The winter months are a great time to be on the bank, with the fish in prime condition and less anglers on the bank it can be the most enjoyable time of year as long as you can withstand the cold conditions! It’s important to be prepared and comfortable otherwise you won’t want to be there, this means plenty of warm clothes and anything that will make the experience of long nights and cold weather bearable be that a radio, iPad, TV etc.
Nights are not always needed
If you can work out the feeding times of the carp on your target venue then you may not even need to endure the long, cold nights. On many venues the feeding window in winter is often very small and often in the day time so day sessions may be the way forward for you.
Getting the rods out just before first light for a winter day session.
Use autumn to learn…
Fishing a lake throughout the autumn period can help you learn a lot as the fish will give themselves away and be looking for food as the colder weather begins to set in. This activity can give you a picture of where you need to be to keep the bites coming throughout the following winter months so it is always worth making the effort to watch the water as much as possible through autumn. I remember a few years back I got a winter ticket for a local lake, which started in December. A few mates had full summer tickets so I would pop in to see them for a few brews during October and November enabling me to watch the water and start building a picture of where the carp were grouping up for the winter, this helped massively when my ticket started in December as I already had the location part of the jigsaw puzzled in place!
Learning through autumn can make a big difference.
The baiting game
Bait is another very important aspect as you will want something that is suited to the cold conditions, something that the carp are going to be able to easily digest. For this winter I am using the Manilla from Sticky Baits. It is a bait that is designed for year round use but comes into its own during the colder months. In the past on some waters I have got through a surprisingly high amount of bait during this time of year. I find topping up on a little and often basis is definitely the way forward, so there is always something to keep the carp coming back.
Use a bait that has proven winter form.
When it comes to rigs I don’t believe you really need to make any drastic changes to what works well for you at other times of year. I think it is important to use a rig you a very confident in and one that you know can reset itself if the fish ejects it successfully. A rig that has always served me well at this time of year is the Hinged Stiff Rig with a semi-stiff boom just to enable enough suppleness for the book to sit nicely over any leaf debris that has fallen to the lakebed.
Use a rig that you have confidence in.
This rig will re-set itself if ejected.
Watch the weather
Keeping a close eye on the weather is a great way to help you choose the best times to be fishing, this can vary between different lakes. For example Bundys Pit in Peterborough goes against the grain and tends to respond better to high air pressure whereas most lakes it would be the low pressure that kicks them off. It is also worth keeping an eye when the warmer spells of weather are forecast and then using some holiday to fish on those dates, on many venues the lakes biggest residents will get caught in January or February during a rare few days of milder weather.
a mid-30 common from a few winters back when the weather was spot on for the venue I was targeting.
When at your chosen winter venue it is still vital to watch the water and look for signs of fish. You may have some gadgets with you to pass the long, dark hours, but during the day time you need to keep alert and watch for any signs of carp, as the smallest sign could just well give you the chance to unlock the code. Normally if you can find one fish during these months there will be more with them!
Features to start with
Snaggy areas are always likely areas to hold the carp in winter as are the deeper areas, however if the sun comes out in the day time then make sure to keep an eye on the shallows as the fish are often very fast to find the warmer water.
As tough as the winter period can be I have found that if you put in the effort the rewards are there, and believe me you only need one bite from the right carp to make the hard effort all the more rewarding!
Get the location right in winter and success will follow as this February cracker proves.