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Making the most of very little time (sorting your gear out)

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Basic gear needed all the time

Basic gear needed all the time. the mat may vary.

I have to smile to myself, I have just read a message on facebook which has prompted this Blog. Someone was saying how good it looked for a fish at the moment but they haven’t got a day off for another week. Well, do you really need a day off?

I love short 2 to 3 hour sessions as much as I love fishing longer sessions. To me angling has always been a drug that keeps me sane and just a short fix is enough to leave me feeling contented again, well for a short time at least, but you need to be ready and organised for these short opportunistic sessions just the same as the longer overnight and multiple night sessions. In this day and age of maximizing your time as efficiently as possible it is often useful to take a step back and think.

“Am I actually maximizing it as well as I could be”?

Shorter sessions could well lead to more fish.

As much as I love these short ‘bonus trips’ I like my longer chill out sessions just as much.

I mention this because after years of doing this sort of angling I used to find that I spent most of my ‘would be’ short session bonus trip sorting out the gear and often it is the thought of having to sort this out that puts me off even getting prepared, let alone getting out.

This I guess is where years of angling really does come into its own in as much as I have collected a fair bit of kit which allows me to run with short session gear as well as my session bits. It might seem extravagant but it does allow me to get out a lot more often when the conditions look right for a local trip.

You don’t need to duplicate everything – far from it as I will show. I did that once upon a time and found I really didn’t need to. A lot of the gear I use is the same wherever I go and whatever I fish for. I don’t need to be buying spare scales and spare camera gear etc. These things come with me all of the time, wherever I am angling and whatever I am angling for.

I start off with an absolute bare minimum set up that I am happy to carry on even a 2 hour session. This bag or currently in my case a Small Free Spirit Ruckbox will contain my camera(s), scales, rig pouch, binoculars, a head torch, waterproof jacket, hat or cap, baiting implements, forceps, polarized glasses, fish treatments and that is about it. All I need to actually fish with in most situations and no more. I don’t need to fill it with loads of spare ‘just in case’ items as these can be in the bulkier session gear.

This remains the same and goes with me on short sessions, longer session, over seas sessions, the lot. Everything is in there to allow me to fish proficiently but without lots of clutter on short evening or early morning trips.

chair short session

Normal pre or after work short session gear. Easily carried on the back

For short evening session work this goes on my back with a zip up un-hooking mat over one shoulder containing bank sticks, a flask, and a bit of bait and any other last minute things I feel I may need (snacks, over trousers etc) then a small chair in one hand and my rods and rolled up landing net lashed together in the other and I’m away.

Total sorting out time from suddenly deciding I have a good opportunity of catching a fish is no more than chucking a flask and bait in the unhooking mat and chucking this with Ruckbox, rods and chair into the motor and gone. No sorting, no faffing. Up and gone.

Bed brolly and bucket added for quick overnighters between work.

These are added for a overnight session.

 Mid-week overnighters

The addition I make is a brolly/bivvy, a large bucket containing extra bait and my brewing kit (or sometimes simply a flask) along with a bit of food (although I usually try and eat before I leave to cut that right down to an absolute minimum as well). The chair is substituted for a bed which has the sleeping bag folded inside.

The bivvy is carried in a quiver system and for anything less than a couple of nights I favour a simple umbrella bivvy system. These fit easily into a quiver and are more than adequate to keep you comfortable for a night and that is from someone who likes bivvy space and tends to go as far as extended overwraps/canopies when spending more time on the bank. I hate in bad weather being bivvy bound with no space when session fishing but for overnighters I find it no big issue.

So the bivvy, rods, landing nets and storm poles go in the quiver and depending where I am angling the barrow sometimes goes into the motor too. So, the simple addition of a bivvy, a bed and a bucket, I convert from minimal evening fishing gear to my overnight set-up. Again no sorting out at home, nothing to be removed or transferred from other bags and only the chair surplus to requirement although if there isn’t a long walk I take that along anyway as I prefer to sit in a chair rather than on the edge of the bed.

Long Session Gear

Session gear and overseas trips

Final items for a long session

All I now substitute is my Quiver and bivvy for a larger bivvy and when the weather is really duff  a Canopy to convert it into a two man size.

Other than substituting the bivvy all that is added to the above is my food box. I like to eat and drink well when on the bank for any length of time and subsequently carry a largish box with me containing all of my cutlery, pots and pans and assorted food.

To this box a cool box is also added in the warmer months. It is several years ago now since I purchased my Icey- Tek cool box and can’t fault it in any way. It cost a lot more than I have ever paid for a cool box before but the job it does is incredible. I have had food left over with ice still visible 3 days after loading it and using it (lid opened each meal). For a box that simply relies on the frozen gel packs from the same company I find this amazing. Anyway plug over but they deserve it and before anyone asks I paid the full recommended retail price for my box. They are even available in a proper carp fishing green! Oh yes – the 55 litre is the smallest size a wine bottle stands up in!

I have to smile to myself, I have just read a message on facebook which has prompted this Blog. Someone was saying how good it looked for a fish at the moment but they haven’t got a day off for another week.

Well, do you really need a day off?

a 30 plus from a quick overnighter

From a quick overnighter between work 20 years ago

The words above aren't anything new I have dreamed up. I have been doing quick overnighters and grabbed the odd hour for almost 40 years now.

Finally, a small Carpy Multi-Bag carries my emergency extras I think I might need but rarely do. This tends to live its life in the car.


I never wanted this article to be a how to do it and you should follow how I do it piece. All I wanted to illustrate was how easy it is to switch between 2-3 hour sessions through to overnighters and on to full blown sessions.
I would love a pound for the amount of times I hear that someone ‘can’t be bothered’ to sort out their gear for a quick midweek trip. Hopefully the above shows you don’t need to if you organise yourself properly in the first place. Quite simply never mix gear in the same bag you will only use on a long session with gear you need every session. Work the ‘add on’ principal, rather than the re-sorting of gear and you will be left trying to work out whatever the big deal was.

It is so easy to become a tad more proficient.

Anyway, I must shoot, I’ve got to make a flask, chuck some bait in the un-hooking mat and I’m off!

Best fishes

Shaun Harrison

About the Author: Shaun Harrison

shaun profile pic

Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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