Carp fishing can be tough and slow going when the winter season kicks in and with the horrible weather settling in; north easterly winds, cold temperatures and snow. The Carp generally slow right up on their feeding and don’t play ball. With these elements set for the next few months, lakes become not so regularly fished and in some cases, deserted. So, with no bait really going into the lake or you can’t put none in because the pond is frozen up the Carp become dormant, making it hard to get a bite and hence why you don’t see many anglers on the bank till the warm weather starts to creep back in again around spring. But, if you are brave enough there can be great results and rewards! This for me is a challenge I love and I enjoy this time of year as it’s when the Carp are at good weights and best of all show their nice winter colours. So, how do you approach fishing this time of year?
For a start to increase your chances it may be best to fish a lake that has a good head of Carp in it or a lake that is known to produce a lot of winter bites and is getting fished a lot as naturally the bait is going in and keeping the Carp still active and feeding, rather than a low stock gravel pit for example that will not be so heavily fished as the Carp are not active. There are many lakes I know where I am best to go for a bite than others. The best way to get this information in my opinion is reading weekly catch reports
There are so many good hook baits to use that work very well during the winter time. Baits like maggots and Hi Viz pop Ups. With a choddy rig approach, fruit flavoured boilies like pineapple or the classic winter boilie, Tutti Frutti. All these work very well indeed however sometimes it pays to be a little different and try using plastic baits like corn which can be devastating however, my most reliable bait for winter fishing off all time is the faithful pepperoni. The results I have had on this stuff during winter time is outstanding. Don’t ask me why but Carp go mad for it. It’s full of flavours and oils which the Carp seem to be attracted to and after fishing with it in the water for 48 hours it still as that meaty garlic smell attractor to it which I believe the Carp just cannot resist. The other advantages with this bait is It turns a lovely colour in the water, like a light white colour similar to lard, it really shows very well on the bottom. Pepperoni is also naturally fatty and has a lot of oil in it which makes it a light bait giving you better hooking when Carp eat it and hoover it up, thread a piece of pepperoni onto the hair rig horizontal ways as Carp find it very hard to reject which I have found giving you the perfect hook hold (an inch in centre of the bottom lip, perfect.)
I’d say the most commonly used winter-time irg is the Chod rig as it is very effective fishing single hook baits and it generally doesn’t tangle as this is the last thing you want when getting a bite alone is hard enough. It’s a rig I would use for my roaming rod where I would cast it around every hour or two hoping it will land on a Carp’s nose and get that bite. It does work well but this approach is taken by most anglers so it may be wise to be a little different?
Like I have stated pepperoni is fantastic! Another tactic I used is what I call the stink bag which is a PVA bag loaded with your rig inside with two pieces of fake pop up corn with tungsten putty so it just sinks. You then put in mixed pellet and boilie crumb into the PVA bag nice and compact then finally poor an oil based flavour into the pva bag so the pellets and boilie crumb absorb all the flavour. I find a fruity flavour a spicy flavour works very well casted into a silt channel areas where the Carp generally go in winter time. When the pva bag melts the baits and flavour sits on top of the silt like liquid lead oozing loads of attractions again which I have found the Carp just cannot resist.
This is the most important element to it all winter fishing but the trouble is the Carp don’t really give themselves away and the last thing you want to do is be in the wrong area as you will naturally be wasting your time (No Carp, no bites, no matter what bait and rig you’re using.) The centre of the lake is generally a good bet to start off with, I like to think that’s where you saw them in the warmer month’s cruising through and throwing themselves out the water, they’re still there just now you can’t see them. Another good area to start especially on warmer bright day is the shallow end of the lake or southerly winds as this will be warmer areas for the Carp to go to. I have many times seen Carp move into these areas on bright days and have had great results fishing these shallow areas of the lake and usually find the Carp all shoaled up together giving you multiple catches. Bushes and snags are a natural holding area for the
Carp to hide and hold up for the colder months and, if you’re lucky enough you may see them hiding amongst the sticks. If you still have not seen anything don’t worry just keep active, Carp generally don’t move around much in winter time so go to them like I said earlier a cast a roaming rod every hour or 2 is a good tactic can pay off!
Where the right clothing and keep warm as you want to be comfortable fishing. I have seen people many of times pack up early because they were cold. I can certainly recommend the new Chub Vantage clothing range. Make sure you have plenty of hot drinks too! Good luck and tight lines with your winter fishing.