WINTER CARP FISHING

I think a degree of insanity is required when it comes to Winter Carp Fishing.
Especially when it comes to winter - when you wake in the morning to find your swim looking like this! With the lake solid and the once muddy swim now rock hard, the men in white coats surprisingly did not arrive to take me off to that special place with soft white walls (yes this is me winter carp fishing).



How did it all start

It must have happened around 15 years ago when someone said to me you couldn’t catch carp out of here in the winter. That was it - there’s no such word in carp fishing as you can’t catch carp - if they are in there - then you can catch them, it just takes time, the right moment, the right weather, the right bait, the right rig, the right place, the right equipment – they’re coming to take me away Ha, Ha, He, He.
The main thing that started me carp fishing in the winter was the peace and quiet. Also the fact that most of the carp anglers left on the lake is as mad as me.
Its great to be on a lake after the last of the fine weather anglers have gone home for the winter and you have nearly all the lake to yourself - just me and the smell of wood burning on the stoves of the barges on the canal plus - Tufts, Rats, Mice, the Robins, and the odd Squirrel who ventures out of his bed to raid your Boilies or your rubbish bag (look out I’m off again).
Then there’s the Carp all nice and big and dressed in their pale winter coats all fed up on the late autumn food that all the fair weather anglers put in before they all left - Great!

Equipment

There’s no space in winter carping for being cold . If you get cold go home, for if you are cold you are miserable, if you are miserable you can’t possibly fish well.
Here are some of the main items needed to get yourself through the winter with all it can throw at you.

The Bivvie

A good twin skin type and with a well fitting ground sheet to keep the warmth in and the wildlife out I like the type where you can just use one skin in summer and have the option of using two in winter so I tend to keep away from bivvies where the inner tent is exposed to the elements by having a breathable net at the top with no cover this may cause some condensation problems in cold weather but this is gained back in its versatility.

Clothing

Nice set of thermal boots (place the inners in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night stops the damp getting into then).
I mainly wear mine with no socks I find this lets more air around your foot and helps stop that wet foot feeling.
A good winter suit - I find it best to get one slightly larger so if need to you can put more clothing underneath, some thermal long johns (M&S are the best I find) and plenty of T-shirts to add layers to trap the heat in. This also allows you to control your body heat by taking them on or of when needed.
Some people sleep with very few clothes on but I prefer to keep my suit on at night so when I’m playing a fish and it takes a while to land it, I’m not freezing to death. A good hat scarf and gloves all help.

Sleeping Equipment

The best bag you can buy is the answer to this one. There’s loads of bags out there minus 30 and below is about right with a bed chair cover. This will keep you as warm as toast all night, also hot water bottle - essential for warming up the sleeping bag after having a fish and to get the heat back into cold hands after the photos.
There are now loads of good bed chairs on the market so take your pick.

Cooking

I use L.P.G gas in the winter in a 5kg orange bottle this tends not to freeze when the temperature gets really low, petrol stoves are ok. just that I don’t like them, and normal gas is useless once it goes below minus 3.
The thing is you depend on your stove a lot in low temperatures so I find it worth while carrying a large bottle plus it also cheaper, one of these bottles lasts me all winter at the cost of about £11.

Locating The Carp

Once the weather turns cold location by sight become non-existent so the best place to start is where they were in the better weather so head towards these swims first and don’t be afraid to blank - blanking is a vast part of winter carping especially on specimen carp waters. If you get upset by blanking stay in the warm or go onto a good runs water.As the temperature drops carp slow down their metabolism and partially stop feeding.
In deeper waters they like to sit around the 6ft to 8 ft mark, in shallow areas they tend to get in the silt which I think helps them to keep warmer also they like weed and a good place is in the margins up against the banks where the ground temperature helps them to keep warmer. You need to remember is that a fraction of a degree to a carp in winter is like 10 degrees to us so if they can get some warmth they may well feed remember also that carp are inquisitive and this can lead to there downfall.
But saying this I have caught my biggest carp in the coldest of conditions so it all comes down to you have to be ‘in it to win it’.
Air pressure has a lot of bearing on winter carp. Lows are always the best, highs tend to be harder to catch in but if the carp have forgotten about bait because none has gone in then they are even harder to catch.
A good sign is when other species turn on like this 9lb Tench below caught at One o’clock on a January morning (always welcome is a good Tench).



Bait

I have never changed my bait from summer to winter, I may add dips or change the presentation but I never use another bait to feed the carp and I always fish boilies.
I may change the hook bait for a trickster (Bright colour bait) because, as I said before, carp are inquisitive.

Presentation & Application

Here we go, one thing I try to remember when carp fishing in the winter if you think the fish are in your area try not to scare them off. In the summer you can get away with it after all they’re fairly active and it may not take too much for them to come back, winter is different they are semi dormant. If you move them they might not came back for days or weeks - they don’t like using much energy in winter because energy = loss of body weight which nature is telling them not to use in cold water (That’s my theory of it Ha Ha He He I like talking to trees).
So mark up your swim when you are not fishing. It is a good idea when you’ve located the area to count the turns and write them down - then all you have to do is clip up and cast to that spot next time you fish.
No spodding - if you decide to put a lot of bait in do it just as you go home, carp are not going to eat much in cold condition so baiting up in large amounts is best done before leaving so it’s there for when they decide to feed spread the bait over a large area not just one spot.
This is done for two reasons (1) the fish could be anywhere in the swim just sitting there dormant so there’s a chance that some bait will be underneath them hopefully bringing them down to investigate it (2) its harder for the bird life to find it with small amounts spread over a large area.
Lets get the rods out - I usually use two types of rig - the helicopter or the safety clip rig. Only the safety clip rig uses lead core, the length of your leader should be the length of the biggest fish in the lake.

The Rigs Helicopter & Safety Clip

Well I hope that I may have helped you place a extra carp on the bank even if you just decide to fish a little more in the cold weather - if not great - I get the lake to myself.
Below is a nice 30lb common caught in the howling wind and rain that had blowing straight at me all day in February. The take was around midnight - yes I’m mad really mad - Ha ha he he.

Happy fishing
Tim