NIGHT fishing will often yield some cracking sport. This Angler's Mail article, by Matt Sparkes, is full of advice to help you catch carp and other fish after dark.
Night fishing is the key on venues which see heavy pressure during the daylight hours can see its inhabitants switch off the feed.
They only get their heads down for a bit of grub during the hours of darkness, when the lake goes quiet and bankside vibrations and crisscrossing lines have disappeared.
The key factor for any all-nighter is organisation. Night fishing can be a fairly miserable experience if you are undergunned for a long night of darkness.
Be sure to go well prepared with the appropriate kit and night fishing can be an exciting and very rewarding part of your fishing.
Sit there with a hot mug of tea and watch the sun rising and you’ll soon be drawn into it – it can be very addictive stuff!
Here are some tips for making your night fishing sessions an enjoyable experience…
1. GET ORGANISED
Carp pools take on a completely different character at night. Having everything ready before the sun begins to set is far better than trying to sort your swim out in the darkness.
Sitting quietly, watching the water with all your kit well organised around you means less bank disturbance and more quiet time to wait for your alarm to suddenly burst into life.
The water can come alive too as canny fish which refuse to feed during the day will let their guard down and begin to confidently pick up anglers’ baits.
2. NIGHT LIGHT
Fumbling around in the inky darkness is asking for trouble when night fishing. Taking a couple of lights with you helps to quickly locate items of kit, tie rigs and bait up.
Modern LED lights are far superior to the bulbs of old. Most LED torches give just enough beam to illuminate your immediate vicinity and you get ten times the battery life compared to old style bulbs. Head torches are tops for hands free illumination.
3. SUMMER SHELTER
Summer nights usually offer pleasant mild conditions, so those bulky twin skinned bivvies can comfortably be replaced by a single skinned brolly type shelter.
Decent robust screw type pegs will secure your shelter against windy weather and storm sides offer that extra protection, should it rain.
This storm shield brolly easily accommodates my bed chair and luggage. It weighs very little and can be easily stored away in even the smallest of rod quivers.
4. CRUCIAL CUPPA
A decent hot meal is very welcome, but a mug of hot tea or coffee is absolutely essential on all night fishing sessions!
I personally wouldn’t even contemplate doing an all-nighter without facilities for making a brew at first light.
Leave those bulky gas cookers for camping holidays and take a single compact burner, small pan and kettle, but make sure there’s enough gas in that bottle for multiple brews – there’s nothing worse than running out of gas when you are really looking forward to a nice fresh cuppa!
5. RACK ‘EM UP
Organising your terminal tackle so it’s ready to go is a wise move. Half a dozen or so tied rigs saves you time in the night, when dulled hooks need to be quickly changed and re-cast.
Here’s a great time saving tip. It’s not easy to hang baited rigs with PVA bags inside buckets or on rig racks with the hook buried in the PVA mesh. Kia Sanger of Todber Manor solves the problem with this modified rack drilled out to take a series of little hooks to suspend the traces from their clips or loops. There’s a magnet with the rack to secure it to the bivvy table or bivvy wall.
6. HELPFUL MARKERS
Accurately hitting pre-baited spots in the hours of darkness is obviously not as straightforward as pin-point accuracy in the daylight hours.
What you need to do to ensure baits land in the desired area is to use a visual marker, decided on in the daylight hours.
I’ve used the big oak tree in the distance as my marker for when it gets dark. It stands proud of everything else and even on those really dark nights I can still see it silhouetted on the horizon – at least I know I’ll be in the general area come nightfall.
7. CLIP AND CAST
Clipping up will drop your rig right on the money and should be done before any night-time casts are attempted.
Don’t forget to feather the cast with your forefinger towards the end of the casts, and don’t forget to remove the line from the clip after the cast either, as this will almost certainly result in your rod arrowing out of the rests and disappearing into the drink, as a hooked carp takes off out of your swim at a rapid rate of knots!
8. SAFE LANDING
Have everything ready to deal with a landed fish on the bank. The last thing you want to be doing is hastily fumbling around in the middle of the night locating your unhooking kit, still stowed away in your luggage.
I place my unhooking station on flat ground, close by, but not in the immediate path from my shelter to my rods – you don’t want to be tripping over them as you rush to strike your rod.
A proper unhooking station should include a substantial mat, some lake water to douse the mat and fish, forceps, antiseptic, sling and scales.
9. LIGHT RELIEF
Handy little isotopes emit enough glow for quickly locating essential items. Many fishing items have recesses for fitting isotopes which will last for years and cost as little as a fiver.
Fitting them to your bobbins is a good idea and gluing one on the boss of your landing net makes it easy to locate in the dark.
Some bivvies have isotopes built in the zips, allowing you to quickly vacate to hit nocturnal one toners. Proper bivvy lights, like the very popular versions from RidgeMonkey, have become popular.
10. RAISE THE ALARM
I’m a light sleeper, especially on overnight fishing sessions, but I’ve got a couple of carping buddies that sleep through just about anything. The last thing you need to sleep through is a screaming run.
Remotes, tuned into your alarm frequencies are ideal for heavy sleepers. You can place them close to your head when you settle down for some shuteye and they’ll stir any angler from their slumber.
11. BED DOWN FOR NIGHT FISHING
Modern bedchairs are the height of luxury. They have fully padded elasticated mattresses, reclinable backs and adjustable legs.
Frames constructed from high grade aluminium help to bring weight down, and mud feet stop you from slowly sinking into soft ground.
This model from JRC costs around £120 and has given me over five years’ good, reliable service.
12. UNDER COVER
Bedding is crucial for a comfy all-nighter. Sub zero nights might call for a jumbo thermal sleeping bag, but in the summer you can easily get by with something far more light weight.
This crash bag, costing £39.99, is tops for fair weather night sessions and takes up little space. On slightly chillier or damp nights I’ll drape this fleece cover over my crash bag to keep the chill and dew off. They’re waterproof too and cost around £35.
13. BED BUDDY
Standard chairs aren’t necessarily vital if you’ve already set up with a bedchair, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and chill out, while you gaze over the water for any signs of fish activity.
This bed buddy is designed to position across your bedchair, helping to avoid the classic problem of bedchair back-ache from sitting hunched forward.
It is very well padded and reclinable, yet still compact enough to be stored within your bedchair.
14. PERFECT POUCH
This is a great little item for night fishing sessions. It’s a bedchair pouch and quickly fastens onto the bedchair frame via Velcro tabs. A main compartment and two outer pockets all zip up for storing those small items you definitely don’t want to be losing – car keys, wallets, phone and baiting tools.
15. SUNRISE SIGNS
The first signs of daybreak can be the prime time for locating feeding fish, whether it’s clusters of bubbles, disturbed silty patches or topping fish.
We all have good intentions of being awake with the larks, but a night of broken sleep can often see anglers snoozing away and missing out on potentially the best time for some action. Don’t miss out – take an alarm clock.
Set it for just before sunrise and get that kettle on, sit back and look out for all those feeding fish.
16. FOOD AND DRINK
Take plenty of grub with you for your night fishing sessions and remember that hot weather will spoil certain foods in no time at all, so store it correctly to avoid a nasty bout of bankside food poisoning.
A decent sized cool bag is ideal. Put a couple of freezer blocks inside and your grub will stay fresh and edible for the entire session – storing it in the shade will also ensure it maintains its cooling temperature.
Bait also needs to be stored correctly. Freezer baits especially spoil in hot temperatures, so include them in your cool bag.
And don’t forget to take plenty of drinking water. It’s no joke running out halfway through a summer session. This container has a 5 litre capacity and sees me through a 24-hour session no problems.
17. BRIGHT BAIT
Baits have the same appeal day or night, but carp obviously rely on their keen sense of smell in the hours of darkness.
Baits can be jazzed up though for added appeal and these small grains of artificial corn actually glow in the dark. Whether it entices more takes is anyone’s guess but it won’t hurt to give them a go and see for yourself.
Glow in the dark baits will glow indefinitely but a quick charge up with your head torch really improves their effectiveness.
18. DIRTY RATS
Nearly all fishing venues have a rat population. A rat or two will make short work of any bait left on the floor, so make it impossible for them to get at it by elevating your bait well clear of the deck.
A decent bucket with a secure lid is a good rodent deterrent, but it’s not fail safe. I prefer to store my bait a good way off the ground, securing it on a long bank or storm stick – just try getting at my boilies now, you ‘orrible little critters!
19. EMERGENCY KIT
A small emergency kit is strongly recommended. My personal kit takes up little space and includes basic essentials such as plasters, antiseptic cream, insect repellent and sun block.
Everybody has a mobile phone these days and they are invaluable in emergency situations. If you don’t have a signal, but need to make an emergency call, dial 112 which will automatically put you through another network’s signal to reach the emergency services.
20. RUNNING REPAIRS
Include a small tube of superglue and some electrician’s tape in your tackle box for carrying out basic bankside repairs. It can save the day, or night, if something vital breaks or falls apart.
A quick dab of glue or some tape can fasten loose rings and temporarily seal small holes in brollies, shelters and waders. You can also glue pellets onto your hair rigs too.
21. SPARE ESSENTIALS
Ever tried to mount a bait on a hair without a boilie needle? I have and believe me, it’s not easy! I now make sure I take a couple of spare baiting tools with me, in case one breaks.
Spare batteries are also worth having, especially for drained head torches, bite alarms and digital scales.
Some dry spare clothes can save the day too. There’s nothing worse than being too chilly, and soaking wet feet caused by dewy mornings can be pretty miserable.
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