Angler’s Mail news editor Thomas Petch (pictured) brings you ten tips that he's seen really work.
WINTER carp fishing can be tough but it’s a fantastic feeling to get a fish of any size in these tough conditions. But follow these ten tips and you should get a few fish on the mat…
1 RIGHT WATER
Choosing the right venue in winter is vital. This week’s Angler’s Mail magazine selects recommended accessible waters in every region.
For winter carp success, you really want a lake that is very well stocked with plenty of big singles, doubles and a few 20s to maximise your chances. Not every fish will feed every day so the more mouths the more chances of one of them opening.
On top of that try and find a well stocked water that fishes well in the winter as some waters even though packed with fish can be a struggle.
2 LIGHTER LINE…
The lighter you fish the more bites you get no matter what species you are after and winter carp fishing is no different.
Waters often go gin clear in winter so you really need to really win your bites.
In snag-free waters scale down to a quality 8-10 lb main line and similar traces. For hook lengths I like Drennan Double Strength in 10 lb breaking strain which is pre-stretched and very fine but make sure you change it after every single fish. 10 lb fluorocarbon traces have also caught me lots of winter carp.
3 … AND SMALLER HOOKS
Small hooks are a must for hair-rigging in winter.
Well-stocked waters might appear easy but they’re often very heavily fished and the carp are tackle shy all year round but in summer they’re hungrier and you can get away with cruder tackle.
In the colder months, it can pay to scale down to size 10-14s. Most popular carp pattern are available down to 10 but smaller than that you might need to hunt around.
Tiny hooks I like include the classic Drennan Super Specialist Barbel in sizes 11, 12 and 14s, Korda’s Kurv and Choddy in size 12s and Gardner Talon Tip and Mugga again in size 12s.
4 RUNNING MAN
For legering, dispense with heavy 2, 3 and 4 oz semi-fixed bolt-rigs as fish are very lethargic and you want instant bite indication.
Instead, opt for light running leads and for margin and medium range work 1 oz or 1.5 oz is perfect but step up for distance work.
These will let you know straight away if carp or nuisance species are picking up the baits and I’ve found they produce better runs in winter.
5 SUPER BOILIES
Bait insecurities can creep in your mind any time of the year but long blank periods in the winter can really get to you especially when you are new to winter carping.
Luckily there’s some great winter boilies available. My all time winter No. 1 – and many top carper anglers would agree – would be a frozen Richworth tutti frutti. It really is an awesome fish puller even after all these years.
And my favourite savoury bait is Nutrabait’s excellent Trigga Ice either frozen or shelf-life.
6 BE A DIP STICK
Bait dips and glugs also come into their own in the bitterest months and I have great faith in them for winter carp.
Simply use a good ready-made boilie of any flavour and bung it in a dip overnight, for a week or even months and these super smelly offerings can be fished as single hookbaits.
There’s loads of good dips and glugs on the market but I’ve done well on the Richworth Impact dips plus ones from Dynamite, Mainline, Nash and Nutrabaits.
7 OTHER GREAT WINTER CARP BAITS
Although I’ve got great faith in the boilies and dips I’ve just mentioned there’s plenty of other choices for lethargic carp.
Maggots come into their own in winter as small fish activity – especially pesky rudd – reduces and carp just love these grubs.
Bread flake over liquidised bread is also very good and luncheon meat and petfood meat can also score very well. Of the particles, I’ve done best in the winter on corn and hemp.
8 KEEP ‘EM HUNGRY
Carp eat a fraction in the winter of what they do in the summer so you don’t want to overfeed them so keep freebies to a minimum.
If I’m using those dipped baits I often don’t feed a single thing. But if I’m using standard boilies I’ll often use just a small cobweb bag or PVA stringer to introduce a few offerings right next to the hook.
It’s worth keeping a few boilies going in at the end of the session or in prebaiting trips as you want to keep the fish interested and keep ‘em looking for food.
9 MIDWATER MADNESS
Zig rigs – using pop-up boilies straight off the lead on long hook links – come into their own in the winter as carp often rest midwater, not on the bottom as many anglers presume.
If you are not getting any luck on the bottom why not try using zigs on all your rods next session as it will enable you to experiment with different depths and find the fish a lot quicker.
And if you catch you’re first fish at 5 ft then switch all rods over to this depth.
It’s not just small fish that fall to this method but some very sharp carpers have had good hauls of 20 and 30 lb fish on the method.
And make sure you follow the advice of fine end tackle as hooks and trace need to be as refined as possible.
10 WARMER WATERS
Carp will seek out any warmer water in a venue so be aware where they might go.
Bars and margins that have the sun on them all day are always worth a go and dead lily pads and reed beds seem to be a magnet for winter carp.
Whether they feel safer there with a bit of cover or the rotting vegetation keeps the water slightly warmer I’m not too sure about but whatever the reason carp will be found there.
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