This month Ian McGrath asked our Academy; “With the colder weather closing in and Carp becoming less active, if there are no signs of fish activity would you go for the deeper part of the lake or regular visited spots from spring summer?”
“Under the current weather conditions I would do neither. Over the last few weeks the UK as seen some extreme weather – especially wind and rain. The atmospheric pressure has been up and down like a yo-yo and, in some instances we have seen some lows never before experienced. All these physical effects will greatly affect our water conditions.
“High wind speeds always has the power to alter conditions and at this time of the year more so than any other. It lifts detritus from lake beds, erodes banks and transports leaf debris into our lakes. This new mix of suspended solids will always effect the chemical composition of the lake and consequently the Carp’s behaviour.
“Add the rain into this mix and you have a perfect situation to bring about change. Rain will reduce the lake temperature and again transport material into our lakes all of which will bring about change.
“Falling atmospheric pressure releases trapped lake bed methane and other hydra carbon gases. I’m not quite sure if it has been scientifically proven that Carp are repelled by methane, but in my experience they do seem to avoid areas where this process is taking place.
“Carp at this time of the year like stable conditions. You are most like to find them in the areas of the lake that remain unchanged or have only been lightly affected by extreme weather. The secret is finding those areas, severe depth changes, large physical features and bank side cover can help isolate certain areas of any venue and reduce the effects of our weather. These would be the areas I would now be fishing. Remember there is also a good chance the fish will not be anywhere near the lake bed so it may be time to get out your zig gear.”
“I am sure we have all seen Koi Carp in people’s garden shoal up tightly during the winter months, hardly moving day after day. Wild Carp will do exactly the same thing so location is key to winter success.
“Start the session with a 60 gram (2 oz) bomb on one of your Carp rods and fan cast around your swim. Once the lead hits the water quickly hold the line tight and the rod tip will go into compression as the lead travels through the water column. The lead will travel at about 3 feet per second so you can measure the depth but what you are looking for is the tip bouncing back and forth as the lead hits a tightly shoaled group of Carp.
“With no warming winter sun on the lake I would start a fishing session using zig rigs at 2/3rd and 1/2 lake depth in the deeper area of the lake, using super bright Zig foam glugged in a strong pineapple dip. This should present the target bait in one of the stable thermoclines where the Carp will want to be and the super high strength pineapple flavour will help overcome the Carps’ reduced sense of sight, taste and smell.
“I load up my reels with fluorocarbon main line at this time of year and will fish with tight lines and the sensitivity of the alarms set to high in an attempt to spot liners as Carp brush past your lines.
“If you do have a bright sunny winter day and the sun warms up a sheltered bay then I would look to fish this area hoping the warmer water will attract the cold Carp into my swim.”
“In my opinion fish location is probably the biggest factor in the sport because as the saying goes, ‘you can only catch what’s in front of you’ and this is even more true in the winter months. My chosen water for the winter is 7ft at the deepest, so as soon as the sun hit’s the water near the reeds I will certainly be looking to locate some fish in this area. I’ve never ignored any spot by the depth because I personally think day/night temperatures will change the behaviour of the fish on a daily basis.
“The best advice I would say is to have an open mind and don’t be frightened to fish shallow or deep areas. One thing I have seen over the last few winter’s is that when the temperature has settled and is constant, fish will gather in an area (deep or shallow) and can hold up for long periods of time – so keep the spots well topped up with bait so the fishes metabolism doesn’t slow down and you’ll be onto a winner. Also I would look at finding a sheltered shaggy corner out the bitter cold northerly winds, even in extremely cold weather I’ve seen Carp holding in depths of 2ft, especially in reeds and snags. Keep your eyes peeled and locate the fish first with an open mind.”