I’ve been fishing overnighters for carp for over 25 years. It’s a very effective tactic for anglers with limited time and I’ve learned a lot along the way, so if you are planning such a campaign this autumn here are my top tips for success.
Pick the right water
The closer the water is to you the easier it is – simple, but water choice is far more than that. In order for you to keep motivated when you are tired and dispirited the water must ‘tick all boxes’. Be very honest about what you want from your carp fishing; most things come into play be it size of fish, angler pressure, surroundings and the like but it’s what matters to YOU that matters most so be honest with yourself. Is this what you truly want out of your carp fishing? If it isn’t then you and you alone can change that. For me the water has got to be between work and home, it hasn’t got to be too pressured, I have got to like the surroundings and, lastly, the fish need to be big enough to justify the effort. But that’s me, not you.
Positive state of mind
If you are going to be motivated enough to do it week in week out it’s vitally important to be in the right frame of mind. The more focussed you are the more you are able to fish effectively even when tired, and you will be more likely to push yourself when the going gets tough. Overnighters sound easy but week in, week out they are not – especially when you arrive to find that all of the ‘best swims’ have gone, or similar. So make sure that your mind is on the fishing and not on all of the other things in your life; I have a full time job and a million and one other things to do but I can put them to one side and focus on fishing because I have a positive state of mind, can you ?
Such a simple thing but so very important. You are what you eat and drink and if you want to keep on top of your game then you need to feel as healthy as you possibly can. Drinking lots of water on the way to the lake and on the way back will hydrate you; it certainly stops headaches and helps you keep your concentration levels up. Try to eat healthily with fruit and bagels a lot more use to your body than crisps, chocolate and pizza. Think it doesn’t matter? Well it might not now and again but week in week out you are what you eat and you fish as well as you feel I can assure you.
Focus on yourself, not others
Although it’s tempting to walk around the water asking others what they have and haven’t caught unless that person is a friend and comes to you with advice the only person I tend to trust and to rely upon is….me. The more you do the thinking the quicker you learn to trust yourself and to make the right decisions. Where others are fishing may well guide me where not to fish but I like to trust my own instincts. I guess I am lucky in that being fairly well known and always willing to help others I do get lots of helpful advice when I pull into the car park but in my early years my carping instincts developed because I relied on ‘me’ alone.
Don’t rush things
A trap I have fallen into (and indeed still do!) is rushing to get the rods out. Rushing achieves nothing other than having the baits out for longer, but if they are in the wrong spot, longer is NOT better. Think about the time you have and whether it takes ten minutes, or an hour and ten minutes, don’t rush it. Sometimes you will find the fish and can be fishing straightaway, yet other times it will take longer. I think nothing of doing two or three laps of a water before I make my choice and even when I do choose a swim I will often sit and wait for the carp to show me the precise spots to put the end tackle to. Then, and only then, does the brolly go up.
Fish for one bite at a time
Even on more productive waters I fish for a bite at a time, not a multiple hit or bust attitude – remember that you are doing overnighters. My usual approach, even when on fish, is to fish single baits to maybe pinch one to start with; sometimes I’ll use a small mesh bag or stringer but certainly no bait for an hour or so. You’d be amazed how many fish that catches me and I am sure it does not cost me any. By adding feed, be it via spod, catapult or throwing stick, what will you achieve? Will it make carp come to you? Will it make them take the hook bait? If the answer’s not ‘yes’ then don’t do it. One bite at a time is the way to go to build up your overnight confidence.
Think long term
Overnighters are a way of life (fishing wise) and if you view them as ‘do or die’ when you go you will soon blow out, fade away and end up dispirited I can assure you. Every time I go I am confident I will catch but even if I don’t I am building up a picture of the water. If I blank then I have fed the fish for free and should have learnt something that I can utilise next time out. I am always honest about my efforts and driving home in the car will go over the session in my head. What did I do and what could I do better? What did I do wrong and what can I do to stop that happening next time? If you are in it for long term success then you will never have wasted your time I promise.
I may not have the ‘tartiest’ tackle in the world but it’s precisely what I need and the best I can find for what I am doing. So the rods are in the sleeves, the shelter is the best one for the water, the bags have everything in order and so on. The last thing I want to do is forget something or find that I am short of anything I need. Spare gear is stored in the car and although it may seem a bit anal as soon as I get home I prepare the gear for the next trip so that if my plans change I can be there and fishing rather than wasting the opportunity.
Usually I try to fish Monday and Wednesday nights but with the tackle ready I can fish any night at the same level, so if I get the chance I can do three on the bounce. Try it if you are not prepared, not motivated and not fuelled and you’ll quickly find you will not be able to.
So many carp anglers cannot see the wood for the trees and get screwed up on rigs to the detriment of the overall picture. Yes, rigs are important but if you are all over the place on them and things are not going right no doubt you will put it down down to rigs…yeah right!
Rigs are just one part and, like bait, if you are not worrying you can concentrate on the big picture which always helps. Hooks need to be sharp, they need to be consistent and the mechanics of the rig need to add up. As many of you will have seen on ‘fish ins’ and tutorials that I attend I have very few different rigs but plenty of them tied up. The Fang and Multi-Rig set up, the Twister and Combi-link setup, some braided rigs for bags and 360’s for special occasions. Razor sharp, properly tied, plenty of them and I know how and why they work.
Not catching? Well if it’s not the rig then it must be the bait…yeah right! I have complete confidence in the Nash Monster Squid that I use and if the indicators are still I know it’s because I have got something else wrong. Once I have a bait I tend not to mess about with it and although I will take a selection of hi-viz hook baits with me usually I fish a food bait of one type or another on a campaign. It may be a cork balled one, it may be a balanced one or double bait but it tends to be a food item to match the one I am applying week in week out. Plastic corn stops can be added for that flash of colour and a small mesh bag of bright boilie crumb can draw attention to the hook bait but when I am feeding a food source it pays to reap the benefits.
So there you have it, ten top tips that 25 years of experience have taught me – good luck!