With nearly all of his fishing being overnighters after work, Steve Spurgeon, says preparation is the secret to his success…

It starts before any session, the preparation I mean. Before I even think about heading to the lake, I have certain things ready to rock and roll. By this, I don’t mean the most obvious things like having all of my kit packed and a bit of food and water at the ready. No, anybody can do that. I mean a few more detailed preparations and it starts with having a handful of key items ready and to hand.

Tucked away inside my rod bag (my rods are already loaded with three hinged stiff rigs, by the way) is a small pouch with my essential terminal tackle items. These include hook link, hooks, beads, scissors and a few other bits and, by having them in this pouch no time is wasted getting into my bag and digging out the tackle box. In fact, on overnighters I very often don’t bring a tackle box at all.

Above: Fail to prepare - prepare to fail!

This is the key here, saving as much time as you possibly can by having stuff like this at the ready. Time is absolutely of the essence and every few minutes I can save myself can be used effectively in the best way possible: looking for fish. The moment I get to the lake, unless I’m armed with information that might lead me towards a certain area, the gear is loaded up and I’m off for a look around the lake. Unless it’s pitch black when I get there – in which case I’ll fall back on my Swim Mapper app to relocate spots in certain areas of the lake – I always try and do at least one lap of the lake. The Swim Mapper is well worth a mention here as it can same so much time and makes life a hell of a lot easier then having to try and plumb swims every time, especially with only, say, 9-10 hours fishing time.

Above: Swim Mapper is another massive edge that all anglers should use, not just those of us on limited time.

With such limited time on an overnighter, I want to give myself the best chance of bagging one and I won’t do that by setting up nowhere near the carp. I know that might sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but so many anglers think that on a short session the priority is getting set up and the rods out. This is not the case. No different to when fishing a longer session, location is everything.

Once I’ve settled on an area, then I will waste no time in getting the rods out. As I said, they are usually already loaded up with rigs, very often a hinged stiff rig set up helicopter style. This allows me to be a little more confident in what I’m casting over, as I do not have the luxury of being able to chuck a marker float about the place for half an hour. It’s particularly relevant when casting at showing carp. Its fished naked style, armed with a high-attract hook bait at this time of year, but often with a food bait pop-up once the water warms and I’ve managed to keep a bit of bait trickling in. A few baits over the top and I’m pretty much sorted. At this stage of the year I might even fish singles, but will never really go too heavy on the bait. In the warmer months, or if the lake is fishing particularly well, then I will think nothing of putting a kilo of bait over each rod. At this stage, the only kit off the barrow is my rod bag, which even has two tubs of pop-ups stashed inside it. The last thing I want is to have tackle strewn all around the swim when the light is rapidly fading.

Above: Rigs are already setup on the rods to save valuable time.

Below: High attract hookbaits are the norm.

With the rods sorted and on their spots, the sticks and alarms are sorted and then it’s time to start to unload. However, I will only do this at the last minute, just in case I spot any carp and need to move. If I have work the following morning then a move at this late stage is probably unlikely, but if not then I’ll happily move at any time of the night if I feel it necessary. This is why spending that time at the beginning of the session is so valuable.

By now, time will be moving on and the last embers of daylight will be fading away, so it’s time to get the house up and quickly sort a few essentials.

I won’t bore you with stuff like sorting the camera kit out, having the landing net, mat and carp care kit at the ready, as I’m sure most of you reading this will take all of that as the norm. However, and especially as I like to get into my sleeping bag fairly early once I’m sorted, there are a couple of things I will mention.

Bedchair choice, in my case the Flatliter MK2, is important. This has the sleeping bag element already attached, saving me one job. I’ve also got the waterproof cover on it, making getting it under the brolly less important when it is drizzling as it has been while shooting this feature. It’s all about saving those vital minutes wherever I can. Next up, my boots. I wear the new Fox ones and they really have been designed along the lines of proper outdoor boots and one feature has already proved a godsend. There is a clip on the tongue and a small loop near the laces, which can be joined when the boots are removed. This holds the boot open and literally ready to jump straight into without any messing about. Don’t underestimate this little touch; you won’t appreciate how handy this is until you get a pair.

Above: Another handy item that makes my overnighters that little bit easier.

My other absolute essential is my head torch. Any tying up of rigs for after a capture or maybe for my next session is done on the bank, which means in the dark. I use one of the brand-new MS300C torches which is not only ridiculously bright and can be charged via a USB port, but it also boasts a unique feature in the motion sensor. Switch it to this setting and I can turn it on and off simply by passing my hand across the lens. Handy right?

Above: The motion sensor on the new Halo MS300C head torch is really handy...

Below: Simply wave your hand in front of it to turn the light on!

So, that’s me all ready for the night ahead. Other than even shorter evening sessions in the height of summer, this sums up nearly all of my fishing, overnighters. Without a doubt, the most important aspect of these sessions is being prepared and using the time available to the best of your ability. Too many anglers are put off overnighters simply because it takes them too long to get their gear sorted. Maybe they take too much stuff with them, or even the wrong stuff perhaps. Either way, it needn’t be the case and, with some prior organisation overnighters can be a much easier proposition. 

Below: A cracking common caught on a quick night between two days at work...