During the colder months, I like to limit the amount of nights I commit to and look for opportunities within day sessions on busy day-ticket waters. I choose a venue that has a good stock of fish, yet isn’t overstocked – i.e. somewhere that’s still challenging and requires me to fine-tune tactics for success.
My preparation for day sessions starts 24 hours earlier, allowing me to get everything prepared in advance so that no time is wasted on the bank. During winter, you usually have an 8-hour window of daylight so it is obviously important that you do not lose any time.
The venue I am currently fishing is one that I have had success on previously, which is of course a great starting point. Here, I’ve caught particularly well using small Meltz PVA bags of mixed micro pellets with a 10mm freezer bait on the hair. So I tie about thirty bags and ten rigs the night before, and I am prepared for the day session ahead of me. This will vary between venues and if you are fishing a new water you will have to experiment - so if you have previously caught well with a particular tactic on a similar water, you might want to try this as a starting point and prepare appropriately. The key here is simply to get as much sorted as you can before you arrive, which sounds a bit obvious, but you do see some anglers wasting time on the bank and limiting their opportunity as a result.
When arriving at the venue there are a few key points of interest that I always look for before setting up, and these come into practice if I do not see any signs of fish:
1) In which direction did the sun rise and where will it end up in the later stages of the day;
2) Which way is the wind blowing and is it cold;
3) Are there any other anglers on the lake.
For me, these are the three main considerations when arriving at the venue. Once you have this information it makes it much easier to choose an area of the lake. The areas I look for are angler free, receive the sun all day and are generally not on the end of a cold wind.
So, once the swim choice is made I go about getting the rods into position. If it’s a swim I’ve not fished before I like to cover the full extents of the swim, this is easily achievable with two or three rods in a short period of time. I would base my efforts covering different depths within the swim, meaning that the near margin, marginal shelf, middle section and far margin would all be covered during this period. I do this by casting small, previously tied PVA bags to these areas. Recently, I have been covering my bags in the ‘Almighty Almond’ flavour Ectoplasm to give them that extra instant attraction and pulling power, which has been working really well for me.
Once I’ve found a group of fish within an area of my swim and have caught, a nice little edge is to fire out a couple of PVA bags back into the area where you received the bite, while you’ve got the fish in the net. I base this on the same principal of topping the swim up with a spod/spomb during the warmer months just to keep the fish interested. In winter I find that using a Karpult caty allows me to fire the PVA bags out quietly, which is less abrupt and usually holds the shoal within your swim without scaring them away. This has worked particularly well and gained me valuable time when dealing with the landed fish. At this stage, I reach into the net, unclip my hook length from my lead clip, and attach my ready tied rig and PVA bag and cast back into the area of action within minutes, the main difference being that my small parcel of food is doused in Ectoplasm prior to casting, which makes it the most attractive bait in the swim, usually resulting in another quick bite.
To summarise, the most important aspect on short winter day sessions is to make the most of the window of opportunity while the fish are within the confines of your swim. This means being prepared before your session and making your hook bait and presentation the most attractive it can be – then you’re onto a sure winner!
Until next time…