think a degree of insanity is required when it comes to Winter Carp
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).
did it all start
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!
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
Here are some of the main items needed to get yourself through the
winter with all it can throw at you.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.