Winter carp fishing tips!
1.Can you catch carp in winter?
Winter can be a really tough time for catching carp, but that isn’t to say that with the right knowledge they aren’t catch-able, because they certainly are! There have been numerous big carp landed over the years well into the depths of winter, and not just big carp, but some big hits too. So yes, you most certainly can catch carp in winter, even if half of the lake is iced over too. The cold weather and therefore cold water temperatures doesn’t automatically mean that the carp will stop feeding. But what will happen, is due to carp being cold-blooded, their internal temperature drops as the water temperature drops. The lowering of the carps’ internal temperature reduces its metabolism, and so with a reduced ability to digest food, the carps’ need for a food source is much lower. With the reduced metabolism and need for food, the carp will often sit motionless in the water in an attempt to keep its internal temperature as high as possible.
In general, this means that carp are not inherently impossible to catch in winter because they can be caught, it just means that it may be more difficult, and may require you to be more active as an angler and approach fishing for the carp in a slightly different way.
2.Do carp stop feeding in winter?
As mentioned above, the carps’ metabolism and digestion is significantly reduced, meaning that carp aren’t dependent on a regular food source, and they won’t need large amounts of bait to feed on either, because their digestion has slowed down. But the carp will continue to feed, at some point during a 24-hour cycle, the carp will feed. Typically the time period in which a carp feeds in winter is significantly smaller than the warmer months, but once you can find the time period in which they are feeding, the carp can become relatively predictable, meaning you only need to fish effectively for the one or two short periods in which the carp are feeding. What you will find in winter, is that when you locate one carp, you have normally found a large shoal. Carp typically shoal together in winter and stay in large groups that are close together, so if you are lucky enough to locate and catch a carp in the winter, there is a good chance you could very quickly grab another bite too. It is absolutely key to be prepared to fish during the carps’ short feeding spells. All waters are different, but I have found that in winter, their feeding spell can typically be the last hour of light in the day, and there may well be another short feeding spell in the morning. But being prepared for the hour or so that they do feed is key. So that means you need to have spare rigs tied and ready to go out as soon as possible, as you really need to maximise that short feeding spell. If it is taking you 30 minutes after catching a carp to getting the rig back out on the spot, then that means you could have missed out landing more winter carp.
3.Where is the best place to catch carp in winter?
Catching carp in the winter can be difficult and locating them in the first place can be extremely hard. With carp being cold blooded and the water temperature dropping dramatically in the winter, this can significantly affect the carps metabolism and feeding habits in the colder months. Winter carp will often sit relatively dormant in the deeper water when the temp is below 2 degrees Celsius, if you ever look at carp in a pond in very cold conditions you will notice they shoal together and sit tight to deepest part of the pond. They will replicate this on a larger scale in the lake you are fishing. With this being said, the better times to fish in the winter are often the milder spells, with the water temperature increasing the carp will switch on and feed more frequently. They may feed twice a day for example at very specific times, for less than hour at a time.
I can personally vouch for the specific feeding times, last winter I fished a water in a very cold spell, and we did manage to get lucky with a bit of a mild weather coming in during the session. In this period I moved around the lake casting single high attract hook baits around for a couple hours at a time. In one swim I started to get a few line bites at around midday, followed swiftly with two takes and I landed two carp within the hour. I decided to stick it out in this swim, and landed another carp just before dusk. The same pattern repeated itself over the next few days, it appeared that the carp had shoaled up in this corner of the lake, and would feed at a certain time in the day if the water temperature switched them on. This proves that location is very important in the winter and moving around to find the carp is essential when they aren’t showing themselves by topping out due to them being less active. If you turn up and sit a three day session out in one swim and you aren’t on the carp you are wasting your time. You should also use your watercraft, if there have been several days of warm weather, and the sun is up on the day in which you go fishing. The shallow areas of the lake may well be worth a look, after all the shallow water is the quickest to warm up!
4.What is the best winter carp fishing bait?
When the water temperature drops, the baits solubility decreases which means the breakdown rate of the bait slows down. This then means that any attractors within the bait release slower. In order to combat this, you want to avoid using high oil baits, it is worth avoiding baits such as high oil fish meals and instead opting for something which is low in oil and is a more soluble bait with greater breakdown effects. A great bait for this would be something with milk proteins like the Mainline ‘Cell’ range. High attract hook baits such as pop ups, which are bright in colour and can be boosted with a non oil based attractor can also be a winner in the colder months. Especially with the carp not feeding so frequently, when they do come down on to your bait, you want your hook bait to be one of the first which they go for on the bottom. PVA bags, can be used in the winter but the break down rate of the PVA can slow down in the colder water temperatures, but they can still be used to great effect throughout the winter.
Another cold water winner can be zig rig fishing, with the water temperature changing at different depths the carp can often be found in the warmest layer of water. In deep lakes this can be a very effective tactic, if the lake has depths of up to 15-20ft, the carp could well be swimming in the upper layers of the water or mid water where it may be warmer. There is a chance they are also feeding in these depths, so using a tactic like an adjustable zig rig could work well, changing the depth by one to two feet every couple of hours to try and find the depth they could be feeding at.
5.Do all carp lakes fish well in the winter?
Some carp fishing lakes are known for not being great winter waters, this can often be due to the nature of the lake. If you are going to be doing some day ticket fishing in the winter, it would make sense to fish a venue with previous winter form. Some waters which are shallower than others can fish better in the winter due to the water warming up faster than deeper lakes. The carp are more likely to be closer to your hook bait and could potentially lead to more bites on a shallower water in the winter.
Cold winds in winter can often be something that you don’t want to be fishing on the end of, as most of the time carp will not be feeding on the end of cold winds. For instance in the summer it can often be worthwhile to look on the end of a warm southerly wind, but in the winter this will turn into a cold wind, making that area of the lake less hospitable for both the carp and for you. It can be extremely beneficial to take note of the weather forecasts, not only for temperatures but also for wind speed and direction. If you know a cold wind has been pushing in one direction for a while, there is a good chance the carp could be sheltering out of this wind on the back of it. But if temperatures start to increase and you get a warm front and warm winds, finding where this would potentially push the carp on your lake would be well worth doing.
6.Dress appropriately when fishing in the winter!
So you have done the hard part and got all of your gear to your chosen venue and you are in your swim of choice. The last thing you want to do is get cold and uncomfortable. You need to be appropriately dressed, wearing thermals, warm socks, a woollen hat, some warm outerwear like salopettes and a warm thermal jacket should suffice as outer layers. This will make the whole experience a lot easier, setting up, packing down or moving. The last thing you want to be worried about is staying warm whilst you are trying to concentrate on fishing. It would also make sense to take a warm beveridge in a flask or take a stove and some equipment to make a warm drink or meal on the bank. This is another good way to keep you warm throughout the day whilst you are fishing.
About The Author
CEO & Co-Founder
Being out on the bank and catching a fish is just a bonus for me, what I really love about angling is it provides us with the ability to be at one with nature and appreciate what most do not get to see. I discovered my passion for angling at the age of 9 and it has never left me, carp fishing has always been the core of my angling but I will never turn down the opportunity to target other species and enjoy what our waters have to offer.