Winter Carp Fishing

Back when I first started fishing winter was a time where I just thought carp didn’t feed. It was wet cold miserable and I just didn’t think it was worth getting out there and trying. Winter was a time where I would sit at home and tie rigs and prepare for the following spring. In more recent years I have realised that carp do feed throughout the year. It is possible, yes it is harder, but there are ways to make it happen for you. You just need slight adjustments to your approach.

At the moment I have two nights ahead of me fishing on a beautiful intimate farm pond close to home. It’s a water that we have fished on and off this year. Somewhere that we have reasonable confidence of catching. Fingers crossed we can make something happen in the next couple of nights. So it’s pretty much pitch black outside now and it’s only 4. 30pm. The nights certainly are drawing in but I just about had time to get the rods back on the spots. They are areas that I have fished in the past. I was just confirming exactly where they were with a lead. I haven’t seen many signs but we will see what happens tonight. Just got some sausages on the go that you stay comfortable on the bank in these colder months. I have got so many layers on I’m not going to get cold. I knew it was going to rain and the weather was going to be rough so I brought my Titan rather than the little Groundhog brolly that I normally fish under in the warmer months. Like I say staying comfortable, dry and warm is essential if you are going to enjoy yourself. Also if you are comfortable you are going to be able to stick at it longer to potentially catch.

I was not expecting this. It’s probably the middle of the night and my rod has one toned. The alarm was screaming and the reel fizzing. I’m hooked into something that is fighting weirdly. It has gone all the way that way all the way round the left. Currently the rod is bent double and it is just zipping around the place. Well it may have wiped out both my other rods. I’m in a bit of a mess right now and there are lines going everywhere. All the rods are off the alarms and its all bit chaotic really. But we have got one in the net and it’s only our first night.Excellent. Well there you go. Whilst I was playing the fish I thought it was midnight or sometime in the early hours of the morning. I went back and checked my phone while the fish was in the net. I’ve only been asleep about half an hour it’s only about 9. 30pm. I got an early night and really didn’t expect to be woken this quickly. Thank you very much carp. Excellent. After that fish I caught last night it got quite a lot colder and the clouds drifted off. The pressure got a lot higher and it got really cold. I was super grateful that I remembered to put the second layer on my Sleep System and this waterproof shroud. Just extra layers that kept me warm last night. Also these little beauties, Super thick woolly socks. I was so grateful I was wearing them as my feet didn’t get cold at all last night.

There is actually a frost on the ground this morning at the other end of the lake where it is open. There is no frost up here but there are overhanging trees and that just keeps the heat in better. Only a couple of degrees but it stopped the frost. In terms of location and why I’m fishing this end of the lake even though it is shallower than the deeper end. A- yesterday was relatively mild in comparison to the last few weeks. And B- there is just so much cover. There are a load of pads and reeds and overhanging trees all of which keeps heat trapped in and provides cover for the fish and places for them to hide.So I have spoken about location and it’s importance. You have to be where the fish are to catch them but as well as that you have to be on the right water in the colder months. There is no point fishing a super deep super massive lake in the middle of winter and struggling and getting upset that you are not catching. It’s better to target a smaller shallower and more prolific venue through the winter, just to keep you catching and enjoying it.

I have been catching one or two fish a session over the past couple of months. I’m chuffed to bits to get one already and I’ve got another night. So another fish would just be a bonus. You have probably heard people say literally 1000 times the most important thing with carp fishing is location and in the winter it’s even more important. Instead of fish being in little shoals spread around the lake like there is in the summer, come winter those fish are often tightly shoaled up and you will find 20 of them, all sat in one little hole somewhere where it is a bit warmer or with a bit of cover and they won’t be moving around very much. Because of this if you find a shoal you have got a really good chance of catching. If you don’t find them your chances are very very slim. In the winter I am looking for the most subtle little signs. In the summer it’s like there’s one there’s one and there are bubbles and clouds of silt everywhere. It’s a completely different ball game when it’s cold like this. I’m looking for a couple of bubbles coming up a reed stem knocking slightly. A flattening on the surface when a fish turns and flattens the ripple on the water.If you do find them you are a lot closer to catching them. I’ve had a walk round the lake and looked in pretty much every spot I have seen fish in the past. The only area the fish seem to be is in the pads and in those reeds. So I’m in the right area I’m confident and I’m going to stick with those areas. I will probably move a rod though towards the reeds as they look really good at the moment. Whilst the rods are all in I’m going to show you what has changed in my approach. As in what I am using now compared to what I was using in the warmer months.

One of the first changes I make is to shorten the length of the hook link. This session I’m using 4 inch long hook links. This is because while we were fishing our local park lake we noticed that as it got colder the carp moved around slower. When they were feeding they would take one small mouthful and very slowly move on to the next, whereas in the summer they would be munch move munch move always looking for more bait. A shorter hook link tightens up quicker and gives more chance of hooking that fish. Obviously with a shorter hook link you have to be careful with the spot you are fishing. I do check and check again to make sure the area I am fishing is clean.

On Ebay today

I thought that was a carp for a second but its only a moorhen ruining my swim. I’ll fish a shorter hook link over a nice clean lake bed. The other thing that you will see in this rig compared to my summer rigs is a slightly smaller hook an a 10mm hook bait rather than a 15mmI just like to use slightly smaller and more subtle approaches when those carp are feeding with more caution and a lot slower. As well as that I will also put less loose feed in. In the summer I am happy to heave in loads of 15mm boilies, flake pellet, all sorts, just to get those fish all grubbing around around on your spot. When it gets cold like this you do have to be more subtle. I’ll use a few 10mm boilies in the swim rather than fill it in with 15mm that fill the fish up quick. Just a scattering of 10mm is a more subtle approach.Last night I didn’t actually feed anything. In fact I just went in with my hook bait and a small bag of pellet. That is less than one handful’s worth of bait. I hadn’t really seen any signs yesterday and I wasn’t keen on filling it in with bait just in case I overfed the areas. That little approach managed to get me a bite. However when it starts getting even colder and I’m talking about the nights getting below zero that’s when I start to fish with maggots. Little PVA bag of maggots with really fine mesh so they can’t escape and short rigs with popped up balls of maggots. I like to fish a 10mm pop-up or a bit of foam with the maggots tied on top. The way I do that is by threading a few maggots onto a sewing needle from my mum’s sewing kit. Thread them on to some thread, tie them off and then that knot goes through the loop in your hair. That gives you a nice hook bait that sits just off the bottom so the maggots can’t get stuck in any weed or anything. One of the reasons maggots are such a good bait when it gets that much colder is because the water goes a bit clearer. Those fish aren’t that keen on feeding but when there are those maggots wriggling around and moving in front of them they are just spurred into having to take a mouthful. They don’t really want to feed but the movement just spurs them on and makes them get interested. Those little PVA bags of maggots to make sure that the maggots don’t sweat or get moist and melt the PVA. I take a bit of Cultured Stick Mix and dust the maggots with that. I used to do it with ground bait but this stuff fizzes up in the water. It clouds the water right up and I think that really gives you a little edge.

Now the next stage is when it’s super cold and I’m talking the lake is pretty much ready to freeze over. It’s icy cold. The fish are just sat there just off bottom they don’t really want to feed. Basically it’s going to be very very hard. Throwing bait at them isn’t going to do you any favours so this is where I go for a single hook bait approach. When I used to fish single hook baits I always used to fish a single 15mm pop-up on a hinged stiff rig. If I saw a sign of the fish I would chuck it out there and hope for the best. Now I am more confident with something like this. One of these Cultured Hook baits. This is a 15mm one and what’s in there is a normal boilie but the outside is covered in coated skin. Now this skin over a few hours depending on water temperature will dissolve into the water.  Bits will be breaking off clouding up the water, pumping out smells taste and colour into the water and I think if you are going to fish a single this has got to be one of the best ways to do it. If you are not sure about the lake bed it is nice to thread on a PVA bag. When you see this underwater it goes up and down through the water column definitely draws them down and gives you a good chance of a bite. So those are my three approaches as it gets constantly colder through the winter. There is one more stage however when things change up even more. When the lakes are actually frozen and there is a lid on them and you just can’t get a rig in the next option is heading down to a river. These very rarely freeze over and they give you the chance of some great sport. Catching perch roach dace chub even barbel. Barbel you can fish for with your carp gear just scale it down a bit. They provide great sport especially on the more productive rivers. That gives you a great option when the lakes are actually frozen over.

Anyway that’s enough talking about tactics for now. I’m not going to catch anything without getting the rods back out. It’s time to tie up a couple of PVA bags get some fresh pop-ups on and get the rods back out. Well the sun is just going down it’s really mild and the lake is looking absolutely beautiful. This low golden light is absolutely stunning and the lake itself is beautiful. That is really why we decided to join. About April May time we started fishing here. The first few sessions got off to an amazing start. In fact my brother Alex went and caught one of the biggest fish straight away. How about this for my first fish from the lake. I don’t think I could have asked for anything better. Following up from that 30lber Alex continued to catch. Not so many big ones but every carp we catch from here is absolutely spotless. I can’t believe it we will be back here very soon. Over the next few weeks we had a few more fish but we ended up getting quite tied up, busy fishing our local reservoir. We fished throughout the spring and warmer months and it’s only really recently that we have turned our attentions back to the Farm pond and started putting in a little bit more time. Over the last few weeks we have done a few sessions here and there, mostly overnighters after work. Because it is small and shallow and you can find the spots fairly easily. it’s quite a good place to do overnighters. You start to learn the areas and you can get rigs back on them even when it gets dark. I have come down a few evenings and got the rods out. I wouldn’t say it has kicked off like it did in the spring but we have had some really nice ones. Did you see that. No look at my feet. I’m filming.  I am cold that is so disgusting.

Right let’s go home. So we have had a handful of really beautiful fish but the highlight, the best that I have caught from here ever has got to be a 30lb linear. The thing gave me a crazy run and I sprinted to pick up the rod. From the off it was fighting harder than anything I’d ever hooked from here. You can see all of the pads moving. It ripped me straight through the lily pads in and back out of the other side. I was wading out there ‘was like oh my god I can feel the fish; that’s a big one as well. My hand rubbed along it’s scales in the middle and I knew there was a big linear in here. I felt the scales and I thought that’s it, that’s the big Lin. I was ripping pads up trying to get it in the net. I had taken the net apart for some reason I think I was feeling how deep the lake was as I was wading. So I had to split the net with my hand lifted the rod up and finally managed to get it in. To say it was chaotic is an understatement but I landed it and my god it was one of the best fish I have caught this year. Beautiful fish. It’s hard to describe the feeling when a fish like that goes into the net but boy was it worth the effort of doing those overnighters. Look at that I just absolutely love this lake. I love the fish and the surroundings. We have gone and caught one of the best ones in here. I wonder how deep it is. I don’t want to let it go. So after that 30b linear I thought things can’t get much better but after a chat with the owner he actually showed us some photos of the other fish that are in here. A handful of commons in particular a couple of stunning 30lbers. If we could catch one of those it would be a dream come true. The important thing is that my rods are out on the spots and I’m confident in the area.

The sun is just setting and it’s super mild. I really hope we get one more tonight. So that’s a bit of an unusual wakeup call really. The left hand rod pulled up tight. I went down and picked up the rod this was the one I cast over towards the reeds. There was this cracking little common on the end. Nothing special and no monster but it’s a bite and I’m happy to catch anything at this time of year. Then I looked round to my right hand rod the one over towards the island and I realised the bobbin was twitching ever so slightly. I picked that rod up and it had this little creature on the end. It’s the smallest carp I’ve ever caught from this lake. That’s the thing with winter fishing you have to take what you get given and appreciate everything that you catch because sometimes it can be tough. Sometimes it can be pretty slow but when you catch something it’s all worthwhile. Even when it is a proper little baby like this. Well as I have been saying al along through this session you have to take cold water carp fishing as it comes. Sometimes it goes good and sometimes it goes bad. This session is an example of when it really does come good. I am very grateful to catch a few fish this session it’s been good fun. It’s been quite mild to be honest for the time of year so I have been quite lucky in that respect.

Hopefully this video inspires you to keep fishing throughout the winter. No matter how cold it gets there are fish that will be feeding  and it’s definitely worth getting out to catch them. When you do get one it is so much more rewarding.