Short Session Tactics

A cracking 24lb common from a short evening session

You don’t always have to spend days and weeks in a bivvy to catch carp and over the last few seasons I’ve had some great fishing on short trips. A few hours before or after work during the week can often see the lakes a lot quieter in terms of other anglers and the fish can often drop their guard slightly as a result. To make the most of this style of fishing it’s worth thinking carefully about your approach.
Getting Organised
In order to maximise the time you have at the lake it’s important to prepare as much as you can in advance. I keep everything ready to go at home so I can grab it when the chance for a trip occurs. A small quiver stores my rods, net, sling and banksticks along with a rucksack that contains my tackle box, spare rigs, bait and my camera.
Try and cut back your gear so that you only take what you are likely to need. Travelling as light as possible makes it quick and easy to move to a different swim or area of the lake. I have a small box of spares including extra bait which I leave in my car just in case I have a red letter day and unexpectedly need it.
Timing your trips
If possible I try and time my short sessions with likely feeding spells. Each lake is different, but dawn and dusk can often be the most productive times and therefore tend to be my starting points. I keep a diary containing details on every fish I catch and it’s often possible to spot feeding patterns which can be really helpful in the long term.
Finding the fish
Although location is important on any length of session, it really is vital if you have limited time to get a bite. Having grabbed my gear I usually start on a lap of the lake with the polaroids on, watching the water for any signs of fish. Take you time and be quiet. It’s often worth looking in the less obvious spots; the margins in particular can sometimes be overlooked by a lot of anglers but can be very productive.
If I can’t see any obvious signs of fish I’ll initially choose a swim based on other factors such as the weather conditions, other anglers and possibly past experience at the lake. 
Once cast in keep watching and if you see fish elsewhere then move to them. This is when short session fishing really comes into its own, as by travelling light you can up sticks and move in seconds.
Fishing for one bite
With short sessions my thinking is geared towards getting the next bite, rather then looking for multiple captures. As a result my approach tends to be geared around lots of attraction from small amounts of bait. PVA bags and glugged single hookbaits work well. I’ve also had some good results method fishing, in particular when casting into weedy areas as you can bury the hookbait into the ball of groundbait.