Like many of us anglers the carp are hiding away, only coming out for small periods of time and trying their best to stay as warm as possible.
Understanding how carp ‘work’ in the colder months is the key to finding out how best to catch them and in this article I will tell you the one, sure-fire, tip to catching carp in winter.
The nights have well and truly drawn in and last night was the worst frost I’ve seen on my windscreen so far this year.
For me though, this has to be the best time to be out catching carp, the banks are empty, the weather is beautiful and because many anglers are unsure how to catch carp in winter, if you know how you can have some awesome days’ angling.
Winter carping doesn’t have to be difficult
Carp are cold blooded, when water temperatures drop so does their metabolism. In turn that means they eat less and use less energy trying to find food so movement is restricted because they simply don’t need to.
That said, the one thing you can guarantee in winter is that carp will seek out the warmest part of the lake and contrary to popular belief that doesn’t always mean the deepest part.
Though the suns rays are in short supply at this time of year, they can still be crucial to locating carp, as is wind and angling pressure just like in the summer months.
Sometimes it’s actually easier to find fish in winter, with less angling pressure following the elements is inevitably the way to go.
In the warmer months, angling pressure can ‘skew’ carp movements, meaning they may not always follow a warm wind or be in the shallows basking in hot sun.
As always, following a warm wind and sitting off the back of a cold one will stand you in good stead.
The first part of the lake to get sun in the morning is always a good bet too, follow the suns rays during the day if spotting fish is proving difficult.
There is one tip though that stands above all the others, one thing that will really help you catch more carp in winter and its exactly the same tip that will help you in summer, find the fish first.
Locating fish is usually fairly simple on most lakes, even at this time of year carp are still more than happy to break the surface layers of the water, especially at first and last light.
Look for ripples in shallow water, cloudy spots, bubbling, bow waves across the surface and fish jumping out of the water.
Spotting one fish in winter is enough to giveaway a whole shoals location, as I said earlier, carp will find the warmest part of the lake so finding one will almost certainly give away the location of others.
The right approach
As carp have much slower metabolism’s in the winter, large beds of bait won’t be as effective in colder weather, though in heavily stocked venues a dozen spod full’s of hemp, maggots and castor can be devastating if you have found the fish first.
Typically though I find myself fishing ‘singles’ – usually chod rigs with hi-viz popups – casted to areas that I have seen fish move or show themselves.
But if you know the lake-bed you are fishing over is clear, gravel or clay with little weed, a very small PVA stick and a fake-corn topped dumbbell can be devastating.
PVA sticks work a treat in all conditions, especially when cast to showing fish, be sure you don’t add high-oil pellets or oil based liquids to the mix as these will just go ‘gloopy’ on the lake bed and not be appealing at all.
Fish based ground-bait mixed with some ground up boilies (not fishmeal), combined with some liquid extracts and compounds are perfect for a really smelly stick.
Tip: Check out CC Moore’s liquid range, Liquid Shrimp Extract, Salmon Amino Compound and Amino 365 are great winter attractors, as are the Liquid Super Slop, Liquid Bloodworm Extract and Feedstim XP.
What tackle do I need?
Generally a lot of anglers ‘fine-down’ in winter, lowering their hook-size, mainlines and hook-lengths, I’ve never really seen the need for this, it’s the same fish after all.
Travelling light is the order of the day, many carp anglers are just realising that catch rates improve dramatically by not ‘pinning yourself down’ to a certain area, staying mobile is more important in colder conditions than ever, because of that the tackle needed is limited.
For me a winters day fishing involves my rod bag or quiver, Greys Prodigy rucksack and unhooking mat with possibly a bucket if I need to carry some bait or want a seat!
If I can get away with ditching the rucksack and putting my end tackle and bait in the bucket, I will.
That really is all you need.
It really works in your favour too, by not taking a chair, brolly, barrow etc it doesn’t take you an hour to move spots, it doesn’t feel like an issue having to pack away to move on and you’re not then hindered by the amount of gear you have to carry.
Get out on the bank and try it, stay mobile, find the fish first and fish for one carp at a time using bait that works as it should in winter.
Here’s a great video on Winter Carp fishing from CC Moore TV.