This is something I have thought for nearly twenty years, and it is something that has moulded my fishing in this time. Way back then I was match fishing most of the time, but became increasingly frustrated that I was forced to fish at the worst time of the day. How many more, and bigger, fish I could catch by fishing early in the morning and in the evening. This eventually led me to give up the match scene altogether, but those foundations have stayed with me and are what my current approach is built upon.

I read recently that there are no such thing as feeding spells. That fish were just as catchable right around the clock and that it was the pre-conceived ideas of anglers that led to peaks and troughs in our results. WELL EXCUSE ME! But there is just so much evidence to the contrary that this is laughable. Changes in the behaviour of fish around the clock has been so well studied that there is almost endless evidence that fish do indeed change their behaviour around the clock.

Take tench for example. When studied using radio-tracking equipment, tench were found to spend most of the day laying up in dense weed, only venturing out to feed at dusk, and more significantly, at dawn. Indeed, the researchers were able to determine when the tench were feeding. Again, peaks were found at dawn and dusk.

What about dace? Again, using radio-tracking, dace were found to spend their days digesting their food in relatively tight shoals over shallow water. As dusk approached they moved upstream to feed on small invertebrates drifting down from shallow riffles. Around dawn the dace would have another little feed before returning to their daylight residence.

Just a couple of examples of how fish do vary their behaviour throughout the day. These are just static examples though, in real life behaviour patterns differ between environments and throughout the year. So lessons learnt in one environment and with one species certainly cannot be applied to all situations. Whilst there are always exceptions to every rule, there is more than enough evidence both from scientific study and from my own observations to convince me that a few hours spent in the right spot will catch me almost as many fish as a whole day in the same spot.

So if you don't want to spend hours fishing when your chances are minimal, you need to be able to pick your times. Often these will be easy to determine. Barbel fishing after dark for instance, or tench fishing in the morning are traditionally good times that work on most fisheries. I prefer to adopt a more pragmatic approach though and will spend the first few sessions on a new water, and then an occasional session after that, fishing right around the clock. Hopefully, by doing this, I will catch enough fish, or see enough indications of active fish to be able to begin pinpointing the times when they are most active.

Whilst you do get a few stragglers, there is generally one very good period of no more than a couple of hours each day, with perhaps another better than average period when conditions are similar. For example, fish that feed in the early morning will often also have a little feed in the evening. Those that feed around dusk, will also be active at dawn.

With each session you can further refine your fishing times. Some species, pike for example, are very influenced by light levels, and so will often have a feeding spell an hour after dawn. As dawn is not a fixed time, you will have to adjust your fishing times to coincide with this peak.

Most of the time I can get my fishing sessions down to as little as four hours in which I know that I will catch almost as many fish as if I were to sit it out all day. Another advantage of fishing these short sessions is, by careful feeding I can concentrate my feed, and hence the fish into feeding as confidently as possible when they are at their most catchable. Something that I might expand upon another time.

The only thing I need now is a Star Trek style teleportation machine to get me around the country in an instant. Beam me up Scotty!