Top Winter Carp Fishing Tips
Carp fishing is much slower in the colder months and so you must utilise the right tactics in order to catch carp.
I often see people ask do carp bite when it's cold or can you catch carp in winter?
To put in bluntly, of course, you can catch carp in winter and in fact, many anglers are incredibly successful this time of year.
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With the following 10 winter carp tips, you will give yourself the best possible chance of catching more carp this winter.
Locate the Carp
During the colder months, the carp tend to stick close together and are much less active. They will often stay in the same area of the lake and it is paramount that you find where the carp are located. You could be using the best winter carp fishing rigs along with the most attractive winter baits and if there are no carp in your swim it will be a total waste of time. During the spring and summer, the carp could move into your swim but this is far less likely to happen during winter.
So how do you locate the carp?
- Keep an eye out for any signs of fish, I find early morning and dusk are excellent times to see signs of carp. It could be a carp jumping, showing carp or even just a few bubbles on the surface. Look for any signs of the carp
- Find the shallow water. The shallow water will be warmer than the deeper parts of the lake and chances are the carp will not be too away.
- Keep an eye out for the snags or features where the carp could hold up.
- Speak to the bailiffs and find out where the carp are caught during the winter. As I mentioned, there are areas of the lake where the carp hold up and the bailiffs are a great resource to ensure you are fishing in the best location
So you have located the carp, what next?
Choose the best winter baits
Carp have a much slower metabolism during the winter and so you need to ensure your hook bait stands out to attract the carp. I would always start off using a white or pink pop up boilies which are highly visible and seem to be the colour that gets the attention of lethargic or shy carp. The bright fluoro pop-ups really stand out from any other bait and will often get quick bites. I am a big fan of the Mainline Fluoro Pop-Ups as my best winter boilies, which are actually available in white and pink in the same pot, if the guys at Mainline baits are selling these two colours together there must be something in it!
Choose winter carp fishing venues
As the fishing is slower during the colder months a good tactic to ensure you catch carp is to pick a well-stocked lake. You may not be catching the biggest of fish but you are giving yourself a better chance of catching carp.
It can be hard enough to go fishing in winter but to blank as well is really going to put a damper on the whole trip.
I would try to avoid the deeper lakes as the water will be even colder than lakes that have more shallow parts. These deeper lakes can become dormant and completely switch off during the colder months. This is not to say you cannot catch carp during the winter but it will be far more difficult.
Try to find out as much information as possible about the lake you are going to fish. Does the lake fish well in winter? It could be the lake has a certain swim that has produced many fish over the years or the lake could be one that is not great to fish in cold temperatures. If the lake does fish well in the winter months, which winter baits are anglers catching with? Try to get as much information as possible before you commit to the venue. This comes back to an earlier point, you could have done everything right but if the lake does not fish well in winter your trip could be a bad one!
Winter carp fishing at night?
Now I am not entirely sure why this occurs but just after dawn and during dusk there is a period when the lake becomes active and these times are a great opportunity to get a bite, so make sure you have your rods at the ready.
Some anglers who are on short sessions may not have even set up at dawn and others who may have had a quite day have packed up and left well before dusk, they could be missing out on their best chance to get a bite. I have found during these periods are also where you can see signs of carp and it could be the realisation you are not fishing in the correct swim, which leads me on nicely to my next winter carp tip.
As I have mentioned and I hope you have taken note, you must be fishing where the carp are located. If you can't see any signs of fish, whether that be showing fish or perhaps in the shallows it could be time to move. If you want to catch more carp in winter you have to be able to pack up and move at any moment so try to ensure you make this as easy a task as possible. Try to bring minimal tackle, do you really need everything you bring on each session?
In the worst-case scenario, where you cannot move to another swim or different part of the lake make sure you re-cast often during signs of inactivity. If you have had no bites or even liners reel in and cast to another spot.
Bait correctly for winter
The carp will not be feeding as vigorously during winter due to the decrease in their activity and so you need to adjust your baiting strategy to suit the conditions. The last thing I would do during the winter is to bait up an area and fish on it. That is not to say this approach is wrong I just choose a different way to fish in the colder months.
So what would be good bait ideas for winter carp fishing?
My tactic would be to fish using solid PVA bags complete with a white or pink Mainline Fluoro Pop Up as my hook bait. This presents the carp with a small pile of food and a hook bait that stands out to hopefully attract the lethargic carp. This tactic also works very well if I am re-casting if I see no action.
As there is often fallen leaves and debris on the lake bed I am comfortable to cast my solid PVA bags pretty much anywhere, obviously within reason, and be confident my rig will attract the carp.
I am also a fan of using maggots this time of year, especially the white ones. Fill a solid PVA bag and attach a maggot clip to your rig, this can attract nuisance fish but is a very good winter carp tip to try.
Fish for a bite at a time, remember you can always add more but cannot take it out!
Change your tactics
- If a certain colour boilie is not getting you bites, change to a different colour.
- If you see no sign of the carp in your swim, find the fish and move.
- Keep re-casting if you have no bites
The key when fishing in winter is to constantly keep trying new tactics until you find something that works, find an approach that has lured a carp. This does require much more effort but is totally worth it when you land a fish.
Choose your best rig
As bites will be far more scarce during the winter you need to ensure you are fishing with a rig you are extremely confident tying and fishing with.
The rig must be tied correctly and be effective at hooking the carp if you get a bite. The last thing you want is to go to all of the trouble of finding the fish, using a tactic that has lured a carp then find the rig has let you down. This is not the time of year to be experimenting with new rigs, leave that for the summer where bites are easier to come by. It does not really matter which rig this is, just one you are familiar with and that you have much confidence fishing with.
Winter carp fishing rigs
So which depth of water do you think the carp are in? If you think about this, the coldest part is going to be the bottom of the lake and so using zig rigs makes total sense. There has been lots of evidence in recent years to suggest the carp spend lots of their time in the middle layers of water during the day in the colder months and this is perfect for an adjustable zig rig approach. I use yellow or black foam as I have caught many fish with these colours over the years.
Start with the hook bait floating on the surface and wind down a turn at a time to ensure you know which depth you are fishing at. When you start to get bites you can easily get back to this exact depth simply by knowing how many turns you made on the reel. This method can be devasting at any time of the year but must be tried when trying to catch carp in winter.
Based on my last tactic, if you are not confident fishing zig rigs then maybe this one should be ignored for now. Get some practice in during the summer, where zigs are also brilliant, and next winter you can smash the zigs.
Short session maximum effort
I have listed lots of tactics here to help you catch more carp during the winter. These tactics do require some serious amounts of effort and so I would recommend shorter sessions during the colder months where you put in the maximum effort in order to catch. Do not sit behind you rods for hours on end with no action or signs of fish, if you are anything like me this will just make you cold and miserable.
Carp fishing can be slower in the winter and it does take some extra effort to get a bite. I find that catching carp in the winter is extremely rewarding, much more so than compared to the summer knowing I have really had to put in some work to catch that carp. You may also find the carp are heavier during the winter after all of the feedings during the warmer periods. You can catch during the winter and even land your self a big carp.
Take these winter carp tips and catch more this winter!
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