Scott Sweetman's Guide To Days Only

The lake I have been campaigning since last autumn has a day only rule for those waiting to obtain a night permit. During my time on the lake, I've been limited to just a day a week, usually a Saturday between work and family commitments. With such limited time at my disposal, it’s crucial I make the most of it, so my approach is somewhat tailored to this style of angling. Despite only fishing the days, I’ve been lucky enough to catch several carp already from the lake; a lake that I am told can be very challenging, so to get a few fish under my belt already has been a mega result. I’ve acquired a few tactics for this style of angling, ensuring you get the most from your day sessions.

Location - First and foremost it has to be location. This is always the most important piece of the puzzle, but it’s never more paramount than during short sessions through the winter months. The carp will be grouped together, in areas they feel most comfortable. Their movements will be limited, not getting around the lake as much as they usually would in the warmer months therefore, you need to be on them - You simply can’t catch what is not in front of you. The best way to try and locate the carp is by constantly watching the water for any shows, bubbling or even birdlife spooking. Using polarised glasses and safely climbing trees can be a great way to find your quarry, areas that receive sunlight should not be ignored, even in the depths of winter, the fish could be right under your feet. Fishing for liners is also a great way to locate fish through the winter; a semi-slack line with a slight drop on your bobbin will register any line bites, often giving away their location. Try to keep off your phone, keep your eyes peeled and focus on finding those carp.

Travel Light - It seems a simple one but try to get all your excess kit out of your bag and fish off the barrow. Fishing for a bite, there’s no need to carry loads of bait, just a pot of hookbaits and maybe a small bag of free offerings is all you need. You can always leave spares in the van if needed. If you’re travelling light and fishing off the barrow, you’ll be much more likely to move on any signs.

Rigs - As day only fishing usually involves a lot of moving about and casting to potentially unknown areas, I usually fish a simple wafter rig on a helicopter setup, with the bead set a few inches up the leadcore to give the rig a chance to present on any bottom. If I’m getting really soft drops, then I’ll opt for either a hinge stiff rig or maybe a chod rig, which are both ideal for casting to showing fish. For all of my fishing, I favour small leads to create minimal disturbance, so a 1oz lead suits this perfectly. The last thing I want to be doing on a day session is risk spooking the fish, so I want a rig I can cast anywhere and know I’ll be presented. Leading around and plumbing is not the one for days, so keep it simple, keep it quiet.

Bait – When it comes to day only fish, bait choice and application are very important. Personally, I don’t like to use a bait I have to spomb out, which could cause unnecessary disturbance. Therefore, I favour using straight boilie, which I can simply catapult or stick out in small quantities. Fishing for a bite, I keep my baiting to a minimum, not wanting to fill the fish up, but just tempting them to a quick feed. 12mm food-based boilies are ideal for this, making much less disturbance when entering the water and are easier for the carp to digest. For me, it’s all about getting a rig and a small amount of bait into the water as discreetly as possible. PVA stringers or small mesh bags are also ideal for this, perfect when fishing to showing fish or seeking out an opportunist bite.

Bite Time – It is vitally important to try and understand what areas of the lake could give you a bite at what times; for example, I will generally always start in open water in the morning hoping to get the last of any night time feeding spells, then by 9ish, I will want start to look towards possible corners, snags or other areas where they might be going to chill or get some sunlight. These areas are generally good for 10-1pm bite times. You can really start to get in tune with the carp’s habits if you can pick up on the bite times and where they are coming from.

Lastly, just keep positive and motivated. There will always be signs of carp somewhere on the lake, it’s just about working hard to find them then making the most of the opportunity when it arises. Although the thought of getting up at silly o’clock to de-ice the van for a day’s fishing can be grim, I promise you it really can be worth the effort.