If you’ve never done it before, carp fishing at night can seem a daunting prospect, but given a little thought and planning to ensure you take all the right tackle, it can be an exciting new way to enjoy your fishing and spend even longer on the bank, and in this piece we’ll take a look at some of the tackle you will need.
Firstly, it’s important to differentiate between the occasional angler who might only intend on fishing one or two nights a year, and the angler who wants to be night fishing every weekend. If you’re really looking to get into it, then long term it will pay to invest in items that will last you a long time and are purpose designed to do the job in hand, whereas, if it’s just for the odd occasion, it’s pointless spending big money on something that’s going to spend most of its life tucked away at the back of the garage.
First things first, you need shelter from the elements. This is where a bivvy comes in, a purpose-made fishing tent designed to take you, a bed chair (which we’ll come onto next) and all your tackle, food, and accessories. There are hundreds of different types out there from £50.00 to £500.00, and you’ll find small ones, big ones, and some that would house a car! The small ones are designed for anglers fishing one night at a time (as you don’t need to have much stuff with you). The medium sized ones are for anglers who tend to fish for a couple of days/nights at a time, and the biggest are designed for long stay sessions, for example a holiday abroad where two people might stay in one bivvy for two weeks. To a degree, you get what you pay for, so it helps to do a bit of research into the type that would suit you best, but again, it might be a good idea to get a cheaper one at first – you never know, you might be afraid of the dark!
Next, you’ll need a bed chair. These are a more robust type of camp bed which can pack up really neatly and take less than a minute to erect. They have independently adjustable legs so that they can be set up on uneven surfaces. There are various types out there, the main difference being the amount of legs they have. A slimmer build angler will be suited to a four leg chair, whilst the fuller figure might be better off with a six leg chair which offers a bit more strength and rigidity.
Next, you’ll need a decent sleeping bag. For the serious angler there are bags available which cater for all seasons; you start with a heavyweight bag suitable for winter use, which you can then strip parts off as the nights get warmer in the summer. Again, these can cost a bit, so a quick fix is to get a normal summer sleeping bag and put a cheap camping sleeping bag off eBay or from a military surplus store, which you can stuff inside the other bag to get extra thermal layers.
You’ll also need some light for the job. My personal view is the less you have, the more you’ll catch. If your swim looks like Blackpool illuminations after dark, the carp will quickly give your area of the lake a wide birth, and similarly, it might not go down too well with other anglers fishing the lake. You might want to get a small bivvy or table lamp for reading, making rigs or cooking, but many, like me, who just fish quick overnighters, just have a small torch, either hand held or a head torch.
Aside from all the usual carp gear, that’s pretty much it. Of course you’ll need cooking gear if you’re there for a while, or a plentiful supply of food which does not need cooking. The simple rule is that the more gear you decide to take for a night session, the bigger job it is to get it all round to the swim! So whilst a five course evening meal with cheeseboard may sound a good idea in the comfort of your own home, once on the bankside it’s a different matter, as you need to think about all the pots and pans, stoves and utensils you need to cook it with. Again, you can get some excellent mess and KFS (knife, fork, and spoon) sets from army surpass stores that will have all the bits you need.
Last, but by no means least, is clothing. Always take a little more clothing than you think you’ll need. It may be a hot summer’s day when you leave the house at dinnertime, but come nightfall the temperature will soon drop away and you might well need a decent hoody or coat, and in winter you’ll need a good set of thermals. For safety’s sake, I also keep a fresh set of cloths in the car should I need them. You never know when you’re going to get caught in a shower or, even worse, fall head over heels into the water, and the worst thing imaginable is having to sit there wet in the freezing cold – I’ve done it once – never again!
Finally, give some thought to what your swim will be like after dark. When you come steaming out of your bivvy to hit a run in the middle of the night, it might not be as easy to see the uneven ground just before your rods, or the big hole next to the edge of the swim. Likewise, make sure you put all essential tackle like landing nets and mats where they’re not going to be in the way, but be close enough at hand once you are at the waters edge playing the fish. It goes without saying that safety should always come first, so before it goes dark have a look around your swim to make yourself aware of any potential issues that you need to be aware of after dark.
It’s a good idea to do your first night session with another angler who has experience of fishing at night, as they’ll be in the perfect position to offer help and advice as your session unfolds. Night fishing is a great way of spending more time on the bank, and thus increasing the chances of landing the fish of your dreams, so what are you waiting for? Give it a try.