10 Great short session fishing tips

Fishing for a good time but not a long time? Angling Trust blogger and author Dominic Garnett has a host of great tips to get the best from your fishing when time is short. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Facebook page and covid support hub for further guidance and the latest updates.

1. Strike early or late

As the old saying goes, an hour’s fishing at the right time is worth a dozen when the going is slow. “Bite o’clock” can vary greatly between venues, however. While an early start is favoured for summer fishing, the reverse is often true in winter, with the final hour of light and then just into darkness a brilliant time to win bites.

Fishing early or late also helps fit fishing around work and family time (Pic: John Deprieelle)

2. Be ready at a moment’s notice

When you might only have an hour or two to fish, every minute counts and you don’t want to waste time tying hooks or rigs. Having rods already set up and ready to go is a massive bonus in this respect. This is easily done with two piece rods, but do treat yourself to some rod wraps to keep everything tidy and tangle free.

Be rigged and ready and you won’t lose a minute’s fishing time.

3. Everything in its place

If you’re in a hurry or the light is fading fast, your equipment needs to be organised and right where you need it. Get into the habit of keeping your unhooking gear and other essentials in the same place (and returning them there!) every time.

Storing a set of basics, including a spare disgorger, head torch and other bits in the car can help, too. If you fish alone, a simple tripod and self take setup is also a must, suss it out so that you’re quick and efficient with your next catch.

4. Keep it simple!

When it comes to quick hit sessions, simple, fuss-free tactics rule. Lure and fly methods are obviously ideal, but a lot of us make bait fishing more complicated than it needs to be. Go for a maximum of two rods or, better still, focus all your attention on one. Every additional rod will divert your attention and take up more time.

An hour in the right spot at the right time is often enough!

5. Feed with care

It’s easy to overfeed when you only have limited time, so be cautious. Feeding for a bite at a time makes more sense than piling it in, for obvious reasons. A bit of attraction is always welcome- but one good tip for short sessions is to use a touch of groundbait in a feeder or PVA bag, but provide very little food value other than what’s on your hook.

Maximum attraction, minimum feed is a good rule for winter. Often, just a feeder or small handful of bait plus what’s on your hook is more than ample.

6. Have a cast in the town

Towns and cities offer winter hotspots close to home.

There’s a lot to be said for trying the fishing close to home- as many of us have been reminded once again with Covid restrictions! Urban locations tend to be especially underrated, especially in the winter when they tend to maintain slightly higher temperatures.

There may be several fishy locations you can reach within just minutes of your home and work, whether that’s the local pier or the canal. Every minute of travel saved is another spent fishing! Don’t forget, there’s also a great “find fishing near me” feature on the Canal and Rivers Trust website, packed with affordable locations where you live.

7. Try pre-baiting

Another good tip for any locations you pass on a regular basis is to try a little prebaiting. Getting the fish used to free food will often lead to a far shorter wait once you cast out. Just remember that you are encouraging the fish with some light baiting right now, not trying to fatten them up with kilos of bait!

Besides carp and barbel, prebaiting even works for winter species like pike, and a few scraps of fish in likely locations can persuade a big fish to keep coming back for more.

8. Invest in a quality head torch

Late or post-work sessions often involve fishing into darkness, so you must be properly equipped. Rather than go for a cheapie model, treat yourself to a powerful head torch with an adjustable beam that can be dimmed or brightened at a touch. These are much better for fishing and tend to be built to last much longer than the cheapie versions.

9. Hit your local commercial at “last orders”

Of course, with their high stocks day ticket fisheries are also ideal for shorter sessions, because you know you’re never far away from the fish. One excellent time to hit them is from mid afternoon onwards, going just into darkness when anglers leave for their tea and throw in leftover bait.

Carp, in particular, are creatures of habit, and you’ll often find them close to the bank, cleaning up. That said, dusk is also the time to try a prawn for a chunky commercial perch!

Hit your local commercial late in the day to find carp clearing up!

10. Keep a simple diary

Any pattern or successful tactic is worth recording on your short sessions. Fish are creatures of habit and if you are successful once, the pattern is likely to repeat! Rather than leave it to memory, start keeping a basic record of the times and conditions you fish. Whether it’s discovering when “bite o’clock” is or how long after flood it takes the local river to be in perfect nick again, it’s worth remembering.

Make a careful note of time and conditions, especially when you are successful!

Stay safe and keep catching this month!

We hope you’ve been enjoying Lines on the Water recently. If you’re new or just coming back to us, do take a look at some of our other recent posts! From a winter fishing tips special, to expert seasonal advice for clubs and fisheries, we have fresh content and inspiration for you every month.

Meanwhile, our main website also offers a dedicated Covid support section, keeping you up to date with news, restrictions and advice while answering your questions.

Tight lines and stay safe out there!


You can catch more content from Dom Garnett every month in our blog, not to mention his weekly “Last Cast” column in the Angling Times, while his website dgfishing.co.uk also has further photography, articles and acclaimed fishing books, including the Amazon Bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish and the collection of tales Crooked Lines.

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