Carp Fishing in Winter

WINTER FISHING IS often more of a battle against yourself rather than the fish. This time of year the long nights, rain, cold winds and Christmas parties all give you an excuse not to go! But the rewards can be there for you – not just the fish, but just being there!

Preparation is the key

Make sure your tackle is ready, so when you get there you spend as little time as possiblein the cold and rain getting sorted out. Don’t forget lots of hot food and drink to keep yourself comfortable, and plenty of warm clothes. It’s all been said before, but it amazes me how many people you see huddled under a brolly, cold and wet, that end up trying hard just to stay warm, and then packing up early because they are uncomfortable.

What follows is a brief diary of a day trip

I know roughly what tactics I’m going to fish, that most of the swims have similar features, and Ill be looking for similar bottom conditions, so I’m tying up the rigs ready.

The rigs are going to be fairly simple, shortish (for me) Mantis or fluorocarbon hooklinks, largish hook and a heavy lead.

I’ve changed the way I approach winter rigs recently, aiming to hook anything that picks the bait up, rather than trying to get more takes with a less efficient rig, if you see what I mean. Time will tell if it makes any difference! If you haven’t done before, it is also an idea to see how your PVA dissolves, especially if you’ve had it a while and it might’ve got damp. Just leave a bucket of water outside overnight and chuck a bag in. I use Kryston’s ‘Melt-Ex’ bags as they do melt quickly in the winter, including the knots.

I’m going to be using a choice of chopped boilies, maggots, casters, corn and Peperami as hookbait and taking a kilo or so of pellet for extra free offerings. Both the pellet and boilies are Essential Baits ‘Creamseed Mix’ but the boilies have been rolled to a different recipe.

Bait selection
Bait selection

As it will be totally dark when I get there, I’m going to start off with small bags or single baits to see if I can get a quick bite, casting to spots I’ve got marked down in my diary – or just dropped in the edge if I forget it! As it gets lighter I can maybe have a bit of mooch about to look for feeding fish, and also start to apply the bait properly if I think it warrants it. All I need to do now is load the car, go to bed and hope I can wake up in the morning!

At the lake

Well, after a great party last night, waking up was a bit harder than I thought (I’d had a lovely time with Stella), and the rain is hammering down, driven by the storm force winds. It was tempting to stay at home and watch the cricket but I forced myself out!

The drive to the lake took longer than normal, due to all the trees, branches and floodwater. Luckily though on arrival the rain stopped, and as I got up late I can have a decent look around because it’s nearly light.

I jump into a swim that I’ve never seen anyone fish before, but its right on the end of the wind and I can see some bubbling right in close to the bank. The three rods are baited, two with boilies snowman style in a PVA bag of chops, pellet and caster, the other with popped-up corn with a PVA bag of maggots and caster. I didn’t want to put any bait over the top of the hookbaits as there was obviously fish there.

As it got lighter, the bubbling slowly stopped, but there had been a fish crashing to my left so I moved a rod to cover it. I also started spraying maggots and pellets over the other two rods, half a pouchful every 20 minutes or so to see if I could induce a take, but no luck. I tried a zig-rig on the rod to the crashing fish – which was still showing – just in case the fish were holding mid-water, casting every 15 minutes or so with different colour/flavour pop-ups.

A fish that just likes a jump

I decided to move all three rods a swim to the left so I could put all three rods towards where the fish was showing so a quick dash between showers and I’m fishing again. The fish was still crashing after I cast out, right over the baits, so I put it down as one of those fish that just likes jumping!

The weather was all over the place, one minute calm with bright sunshine, next minute gale force winds and torrential rain as the squalls moved through. It was not exactly ideal as I don’t think the fish can settle when its like that, they seem to want a constant during the winter, whether that’s hot or cold, calm or windy doesn’t seem to matter – they just don’t like it changing all the time.

It’s now midday and all the food and drink I brought with me has been finished, so to keep my mind off the hunger pangs I reel in to have a wander up the other end of the lake. I wanted to see if there was anything on the back of the wind, as the other three people who are fishing are fishing on the end of the wind, and no-one else had had a take.

A move

About two thirds of the way along it was calmer due to the wood behind the far bank sheltering the lake and there was a bit of bubbling under a tree, and some in open water, so I moved the gear along and got settled in. I was just about to cast to the open water spot when I noticed someone had appeared a couple of swims along which scuppered that plan. The bubbling was still going under the tree, so I took off the heavy lead and put on a 1