What is the best bait for carp?
Fishing for carp is very different in the summer than compared to winter. This is because carp are cold-blooded creatures, and therefore as the water increases in temperature throughout the spring and summer months, so does the carps’ blood, and with that their metabolism alters significantly. In the summer months, the carp will be much more active, moving around the lake or river searching for food. The summer months can often see a change in feeding times too, with carp typically feeding hardest at first light. This is why it is often the best time to locate carp at any time of the year, but certainly more so in the warmer months. That first hour or two of light is really key to locating feeding carp. It may be easy to find them in the middle of the day in summer, but catching them can often be another matter. This is because in the middle of the day in summer, it often means the hottest time of the day, and with that, the carps’ temperature increases, and so they can often be found basking in the shallows or in the weed beds, and not expending much energy. But as the light level drops and those weed beds stop releasing oxygen, and instead start consuming oxygen, it becomes a harsh environment for the carp, and typically the carp will head out of these areas to other parts of the lake to find food.
That isn’t to say that you can’t catch carp in weedy areas at night, or in the day. It completely depends on the water you are fishing, and how those carp behave, as every lake and the carp within it can behave slightly differently. So the real key is looking and studying what these carp are doing. I can recall numerous times, fishing an extremely hard and very big pit, fishing for a group of carp in the summer in a bay filled with weed. Getting a bite was nigh on impossible, even though the carp were there, and that was most probably because they were using it as an area to rest and bask, rather than to feed. We only had bites in that area when the weather considerably changed. So with the change in the carps behaviour and feeding times, they can often change their feeding habits too. With the increase in water temperature and sunlight, the weed can start to flourish, there’s an abundance of insects hatching, and the mussels and water snails all become much more active. These natural food sources are now much more accessible to the carp, and they provide a huge amount of nutrients too. I’ve often waded through weed beds, grabbed a handful of weed and it is absolutely full of natural food sources, with water snails, fry and larvae covering every inch of the weed.
You will often find during the summer months, that you can have carp feeding right over the top of you, but a bite will never materialise. That can often be because the carp are so fixated on a natural food source such as a mussel or bloodworm bed, that they simply won’t feed on your bait. But choose the right bait, and your chances can increase significantly. Pre-baiting can often be a game-changer in the summer, finding those spots that they are feeding on, and regularly applying bait to that area, can really switch the carp onto your bait. Particles can be a real winner in the summer months, it is much closer to their natural food sources, and it will keep the carp grubbing around for a long time too. I find a good general mixed particle, with plenty of hemp, maize, tiger nuts, salt, some real fishy oil such as salmon oil, can work wonders in the warmer water. Don’t be shy about thinking outside of the box when it comes to using natural baits in the summer too. You can purchase water snails online, and use these in your mix, or as I have often done in the past, I have walked the margins collecting a load of mussels. Crush these up in a bucket, and add them to your mix. Mussels really are a carps favourite and best food source. Fish a couple of tiger nuts as a hook bait over the top of the mix, or even some maize or plastic corn, and you can be on to a real winner.
As previously mentioned, particles can be a real winner in the summer months, but make sure they are prepared correctly. Any dry particle must be cooked and prepared. To save time I would recommend buying particle from known prepared particle providers such as Monster Particles. But particles aren’t the only best carp bait in the summer. Boilies can be a real winner too.
Again, it’s important to note that nearly all boilies will catch carp, and most of the time catching a carp comes down to being at the right place at the right time. But, having the right bait will no doubt increase the chances of catching at the right time. In the summer, I tend to focus much more on oily fishmeal boilies that are much darker in colour, rather than the milk protein varieties that I use in winter. In the warmer months, these oily baits really come into their own, as the water temperature means they are much more soluble, and so they can break down more easily, making them easily digestible to the carp. They can also give off a great layer of attraction too. Using an oily bait, or even just an oil additive can create a slick on the surface of your spot when the fish begin to feed on it, a very welcome sight to wake up to in the morning! When looking for a suitable summer boilie, a good option is to go for a fishmeal bait, dark and rich in colour and also rich in nutrients. But ultimately, use what you are confident in, confidence and location will catch more carp than using a different boilie.
A real stalking winner. A mixture of oily pellets, my favourite are just some trout pellets, an amazing bait to use whilst stalking. Take a bucket of pellets with you when you walk the lake or river and just drop a handful of pellets in some likely looking margin spots. Look for clean areas where you could safely present a bait, and then check up on these areas during the day. Carp absolutely love trout pellets, and they can be a real winner when carp fishing in the summer months. Fish a cut down boilie on the hair, over the top of the pellets when you find a spot the carp are comfortable to feed on, and this can often win you a quick bite. Trout pellets can also be used to great success in a PVA bag. Use a tight mesh PVA bag with a small handful of trout pellets, and fish a bright pop up over the top or a match the hatch style bait if you prefer, cast to showing fish, and this can also be a massive edge to catch more carp in the summer, especially on sort sessions. Trout pellets are a real classic carp bait and one that you will see time and time again in fishing videos from old to new. Definitely one of the best carp baits.
As the warmer summer temperatures brings around an increase in the water temperature, this often means the fish can be found in the upper layers during both day and night, in order to spend as much time in the warm water. In order to catch carp that are not feeding on the bottom, the best approach is to use zig rigs. Zigs can take some time to get used to, and typically means you need to be much more active as an angler, regularly changing the depth of your zig rig to find the depth at which the carp are feeding. This can be done by staggering the depths of your zigs and changing them accordingly every hour. Often using a variety of baits can help too, try using black foam on one rig and bright foam on another. Pop-ups or zig bugs can equally be as effective on a zig too, so it really depends on what the carp are feeding on, the best way to find out is to trial different hook baits at different depths and see what works best. When fishing zigs, they can be super effective as a single hook bait, or you can spomb a cloudy mixture over the zigs, which creates a cloud full of attractants that hangs in the water column, making the zig area much more attractive. Have a look in the tackle shop or online for cloudy spod mixes, they are normally pretty easy to find. In the summer months, the carp will typically be found in the upper water layers, nearer the surface, so when starting with zigs, the best place to start is a couple of foot from the surface.
One of the best carp baits for summer can actually be a dog biscuit. The amount of carp I have caught on a single dog biscuit is crazy. Once again with the warmer temperatures, the carp will often be found sunning themselves either in the shallower part of the lake or in the surface layers. In both cases, firing some dog biscuits (Chum mixers) either soaked in salmon oil or just dry (out of the packet) can very quickly get those carp feeding. Carp that were previously sunning themselves, can all of a sudden be found ‘pac manning’ the dog biscuits on the surface, creating a frenzy. If the carp are further than catapult distance, try a throwing stick, and if that doesn’t reach the distance, don’t be afraid to use a spomb to get them out there. Another great tactic is to fill some PVA bags with dog biscuits to create extra weight and catapult those out to the areas. As a hook bait, you can simply hair rig a dog biscuit that has been soaked in oil to make it softer and easier to hair rig. Other known methods are to glue the dog biscuit to the hook, or my preferred method is to simply cut down a pop up into a similar size and shape to a dog biscuit and hair rig this. I often find it lasts much longer and can be more visible to the eye too.
In general, there are some great summer carp baits that can be used, but it really depends on the situation you find yourself in, and where and when the carp are feeding. So really there is no best carp bait for summer, instead, you need to focus on finding the carp, and understanding where they are feeding, and then you can figure out the best bait to use, and hopefully, this blog will help you to make those decisions much quicker and with more confidence. Don’t forget a simple bright pop-up as a hook bait fished over a bed of bait, tight or spread over an area, can be a winner both winter and summer. Play around with tactics and baits and see what works best, but I’m certain the bait tips supplied here will increase your chances of landing a summer carp. Tight lines and stay out of the sun!
About The Author
COO & Co-Founder
With a real competitive background, there is nothing more I love than competing against a lake and it’s residents, chasing carp in hard venues where it really is the angler competing against the target species. I have fished for all manner of species from a very young age, influenced by my brothers, I soon fell into love with carp fishing and dedicated many hours of hard work to outwit some amazing carp along the way. But with limited time you can find me once again fishing for multiple species, and happily catching what comes along!