Winter Carp Fishing Tips

Winter is renowned for being one of the hardest times of year to catch carp; the carp just seem to more or less switch off when it comes to moving around and feeding in the winter.

However, it isn’t impossible to catch them and there are some things you can do to tip the odds in your favour. Here’s a collection of my top winter carp fishing tips to help you get more fish on the bank in chilly conditions.

Keep Warm, Dry and Comfortable

Ok so this one sounds obvious and isn’t related directly to catching carp but a lot of individuals become fair-weather fishermen simply because they’ve had bad winter experiences due to being ill-prepared for the cold.

So many anglers look no further than putting on a warm jacket when it comes to braving the frost. A good quality jacket (click here to view my article on the best jackets for carp fishing) is certainly a good start but it is by no means all there is to it.

Being cold and uncomfortable is usually the main reason why anglers avoid getting on the bank during the winter, which is poor reasoning since the discomfort is easily with the correct gear.

Winter can be a great time to finish; it is definitely one of the most peaceful and picturesque times to be at the lake. Don’t deprive yourself of some fantastic cold-weather carping just because you fear the conditions.

A thick, waterproof jacket with a fleece-lining as the place to start. You’ll also want to consider the same when it comes to your trousers. This Trakker Winter Suit with a detachable fleece is a well-priced option for both your jacket and trousers:

Trakker Core Winter Suit

Keeping your head, and ears warm goes a long way to your overall body warmth. Apparently, the majority of your body heat is lost through your head so a is worth wearing.

Losing feeling in cold, numb feet is never fun and can be quite painful at times so you must put some thought into your footwear. I like to wear a good pair of thermal-lined boots.

Keeping your head, and ears warm goes a long way to your overall body warmth. Apparently, the majority of your body heat is lost through your head so a decent hat like this one is worth wearing.

If you're staying on the bank for a night or 2 during the winter, having a bivvy that is going to stand up to the cold and other elements is crucial. If you need a new bivvy, you can take a look at my best carp fishing bivvy article to help you decide which to buy.

Put Some Thought Into Where You're Fishing

Researching a lake before you fish it is always a solid idea but it may prove to be even more important during the colder months when the fishing is generally more difficult. You’ll need every advantage you can get.

The first thing to consider is lake temperature. If the lake is very cold, this will put the carp off of feeding almost completely. As a result, large, deep lakes can prove to be very hard to fish in the winter.

On the other hand, a shallower water could still generate enough warmth to keep the carp active and on the feed.

Once you’re at the lake, you’ll then need to find the carp themselves. Since they tend to move around less in the winter, relying on bait alone to draw them to you is less likely to prove successful.

Often, they can be found shoaling together so if you can pin-point them, you stand a good chance of bagging a couple. Spend some time throughout the session looking out onto the lake for signs of carp.

Adjust Your Baiting Approach

bucket of bait

During the colder months, the carp move about less. Naturally, this means they don’t require as much energy so won’t be feeding as much as they do in the summertime.

The last thing you want to do is fill the fish up early on and stop them feeding all together.

Knowing this information can prove to be key as it should have an impact on your swim baiting strategy. I’m not saying it isn’t possible to catch winter carp over large beds of free bait but fishing with singles and small PVA bags may be a wiser approach.

Opt for using smaller particle baits and groundbait in moderation as a means to attract the fish to your swim without giving them too much

Another great method for attracting the carp to your swim without over feeding them is to use a liquid attractant like this on your baits. These can enhance the smell as well as the colour of your baits to stir the carp into feeding.

The Best Winter Carp Rigs?

Winter carping can become a psychological battle; you know it is going to be difficult and, as this article has suggested, a certain change of tactics is required. However, this fact can also lead to you second guessing yourself and trying methods you aren’t comfortable and confident with.

Of course, switching up and trying different rigs can yield great results but you shouldn’t feel like you need to try anything outrageously different when it comes to your rig just because the temperature has dropped. Generally, if a favourite rig of yours works in the summer then it should also work during the winter.

With that being said, one rig many anglers have had success with in winter is the zig rig. You’ll probably find that carp don’t just stick to the bottom of the lake when it gets cold so using a zig rig will allow you to stick your hookbait in the areas where the fish are roaming.

You’ll have to experiment a bit with the depth to find the fish but once you get it right, you could have a very productive day.

Which Hookbaits to Use for Winter Carp?

In low-light conditions, brightly coloured fluro baits like these boilies tend to do very well due to the way the light interacts with the water and submerged objects. This is because they are designed to “grab” the ultraviolet rays of the sun. On grey, winter days it is these ultraviolet rays that become more dominant.

During the day, when these UV rays are at their peak, it could be wise to test out colourfully vivid fluro baits.

As the light goes down, switching over to a white hookbait might make sense. White tends to be very visible to the fish when the light is low and more likely to stand out in the clear, dark water of a winter lake.

When to Fish

In all honesty, I believe the best fishing time is going to vary from lake to lake so you’ll have to do a bit of research and testing yourself to truly nail it.

There is an argument that I’ve observed to have some truth to it that suggests carp tend to be on the move around first light. I’d imagine this has something to do with the change of light levels in the water and, potentially, temperature.

With that in mind, it could be a wise move to have your lines in the water around this time to test this theory first on a new lake.

Be Prepared to Move

As I alluded to earlier, using your smelliest, most colourful and enticing baits still may not be enough to draw the fish over to you during the winter. You need to be more prepared to go to the carp yourself.

Keeping it light in terms of gear and staying mobile will allow you to spend a bit of time at a few different spots around the lake during your session. This should give you a much better chance of finding those lethargic carp when its cold.

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