4 a.m. to 10 a.m. - The Key Times!
Terry Hearn talks through how he made the most of work overnights on tough lakes...
I think it was Rich who wrote a bit on fishing overnighters, specifically work overnighters, and the difficulties that come with fishing that way. Believe it or not, I did loads of that in my earlier years, whilst working for the Post Office. Winny Hill, Shepperton, Silvermere, the Thames, and even the Yateley Match and Copse lakes, all saw me packing away at 4 a.m. to get to work for 5 a.m. I remember well the horrible feeling of knowing that I was reeling in at bite time. I also remember how shattered I used to feel driving to work having had next to no sleep—the radio up full blast and every window fully open to stop myself falling asleep at the wheel. I did it, and although I can think of plenty of spells fishing overnighters which left me feeling despondent and as though I was wasting my time, I can also think of a few occasions when they turned out to be worthwhile.
My first ever Yateley carp, the Match Lake’s Old Fish, came on an overnighter just before I was due to pack up and head to work in Kingston Upon Thames. I managed a couple from the Copse on overnighters too, and thinking about it, my first capture of the Car Park Lake’s Heather also came on a work overnighter, by then, while working for Alan Cooper (Cooperman), moulding cable buffers for the marine industry. A single hookbait cast out after dark from the Bars swim, leading to my first ever carp on a Hinged Stiff Link. Coops, and a few of the other lads helped out with the pictures at first light, and I still remember Rob, in his usual way, winding Coops up as we strolled down to the car park: “Surely you’re not making him go to work today—he’s just caught Heather The Leather!” In all truthfulness, I was on cloud nine and couldn’t have cared less what I did for the rest of that day!
That was a good job as it goes, working with Coops and Big Al. Part of my job was filling up the mouldings with hot, liquidised rubber. Instructions were strict all round, protective overalls and glasses, and I had to keep an eye out for any blockages in the hoses, which were fairly frequent given the nature of liquid rubber—stop for a few minutes and the stuff would set. I remember it well because one time I must have taken my eyes off the hose for a few seconds, no doubt chatting away with Big Al, and when I turned round there was a pulsating bulge the size of an apple, in what should have been a slender rubber hose with a diameter of around 15mm! I tried to flick the power switch off, but it was all too late, and it exploded from a couple of feet away, absolutely covering me in liquid rubber. Geez, what a nightmare that was! Coops ran me to the bathroom, laughing, but there was no way that stuff was coming out of my hair, and I ended up having to go to the barbers to get loads chopped off! Funny the things that stick in your mind.
Work overnighters are difficult, especially if you’re stringing a few together. It’s the early pack ups and the driving through traffic that are the killer, but if you’re able to fish through bite time, then quick overnighters can turn out the better way. Has anyone else noticed how on a lot of lakes, weekday nights are now just as busy as weekends?
Obviously it’s largely dependent on time of year, but through the hot summer months I’d much rather fish overnighters, or more accurately the dawns, buggering off for the rest of the day and not returning until evening time. I fish better that way. Often it’s dependent on distance from home, and sometimes whether the venue is one quiet enough for me to feel that I’ve a fair chance of dropping straight back into where I want to go, generally wherever I might have seen them showing that morning before heading for home. Ever increasing road traffic plays its part, too, but whether I’m there for one night or four, a great deal of that is downtime, when you know there’s little point in having the rods out. The important time to have the rods out is bite time, that’s all that matters.
A couple of years back on the Thames I was going for up to five days at a time, staying aboard the boat and popping back for showers at the Marina. I didn’t even fish the nights, the bream were too much of a pain after dark, leaving me feeling exhausted and shattered for first light; and as for the scorching hot afternoons—forget it. I only fished the mornings, 4-10 a.m. through the hot weather, but because I was too far from home to travel back and forth each day, as well as the obvious costs of fuel, I’d instead chill out on the boat, generally anywhere I could find some shade. If I was local, those trips would have been hours long, not days. Sometimes it felt like wasted time, but in reality it was no different to how much of my fishing has been on stillwaters. Learn from one morning’s observations and then wish away the hours until the next, except this time you plan to have traps waiting for them. I’m sure that’s something we can all relate too. There are way more non-productive hours in a day than productive. Half a dozen six hour morning sessions are better than a 48hr trip in one go.
Time and pressure. Of course, that’s what it’s all about, being able to swiftly follow up whatever you’ve just seen and learnt. A week away in-between and it’s pretty much a certainty that things will have changed in your absence. I found the same thing last summer, not on the same scale as Rich, but fishing a two or three nighter each week, feeling like I was in-tune with what was going on, head full of thoughts on where I needed to be and what I needed to do by the end of each trip, only to find that everything was different upon my return. It happened over and over again, and that’s only being away for three or four days, not a full week.
Staying on the overnighter thing, I remember that sometimes just going for an evening walk was better than putting yourself through the punishment of a dawn pack up. It’s been a long time since I had to regularly pack up earlier than I’d have liked each morning, aside from the odd bit of fishing where it was tricky to stay through the days, which Dave Mag touched upon, but I do remember back on the Copse Lake switching back and forth between evening walkabouts and fishing a work night whenever I felt like I was in with a chance. Often I learnt more strolling round, stopping and looking in every nook and cranny, as well as chatting with the other anglers, than I did locked to one place behind a pair of rods.