Winter Carp Fishing Tips
By Tommy Flower – November 2013
Well winter has finally arrived with its freezing grip starting to get a firm hold on most of the country with night temperatures dropping below freezing and day time temperatures staying in the single figures. A lot of anglers out there will be hanging up their rods until the warmth of spring comes back around but not me! And I urge you all not to give up just yet.
Winter is a great time to target carp as the banks are empty so you find that its just you against the carp and when that first cold water carp slips over the net and your met with the sight of its stunning dark winter colours you will be gagging for the next and see you braving the cold winter with a smile on your face.
Winter carping does require that bit more thought and effort and there is a very thin line between a successful session or a session from hell and so many fall at the first hurdle. I feel the most important aspect of any winter fishing is to be comfortable. As the saying goes; “Theres no such thing as bad weather, its’ just bad clothing” which couldn’t be more true. There’s nothing worse than being freezing cold and just not wanting to be there and as soon as you start to lose motivation your chances also slip away as you just won’t be putting in the effort. If you keep yourself warm and dry even the fishless sessions will be enjoyable and you will fish just that much better. Apart from the warm clothes, hot drinks and food really do help keep you sane on a cold winters night. Another thing to mention is that winter nights are very very long so I would always recommend a good book or even a portable devise to watch a film, both will help the night pass without boredom and best of all both will keep you awake and alert to any fish movements.
Once the essentials are sorted, the next critical thing in winter carp fishing is choosing the right venue. I spend a lot of time researching waters in the winter and choosing one with a good winter track record will put you a step in the right direction. Forums, fishery websites and tackle shops can all offer good information as to where is producing fish in the colder months, all you have to do is your homework. Over the years you will start to build your own lists of lakes which have done you proud in the winter months and knowing that the carp can be caught in arctic conditions boosts your confidence before you even step on banks thus enabling to fish as well as you possibly could and making your session an enjoyable one.
Getting ready for this article really got the fishing bug biting and I was itching to wet a line and show you that winter truly is a great time to be on the banks. With my own advise ringing in my ears I decided to fish a venue that had a decent track record and better still, one that has always been kind to me even in the harshest of conditions.
I arranged to leave early from work on the friday and had the gear loaded and set off down the M25 by early afternoon but it wasn’t until half way I glanced into the back of the car and to my horror noticed I had no RODS! If you have read my blogs you may have noticed I am rather forgetful but forgetting my rods is a whole new level for me. With a rather long detour to collect my rods I was back on track slightly behind on time but I was going fishing so had a smile all the same. With the light now fading I arrived at my destination Hawkhurst Fish Farm in Kent. The complex holds a few waters but it was the speci lake which my attention would be focused on. The lake in question is around 3 1/2, 4 acres with depths varying from 15ft to 3ft with one end being the deep end and slowly rising to the shallows.
As I pulled up to the lake I saw that it was empty (in the summer you wouldn’t be able to get a swim on a friday night). I already knew where I wanted to be and that was swim one which covered the deeper water and the one swim that I have always caught from in the winter. With the dying sun fading beyond the horizon I decided to spread around 30 baits in a line left to right 40yards out which covered around 40 foot and planned on placing three single hi-vis pop ups among the freebies. When using pop ups I always have total faith in my multi rigs and opted for one fluro pink, one white and one washed out pink. All three colours have served me well.
By the time the last rig touched down it was pitch black and the temperature had started to plummet. To keep myself occupied in the hours of darkness I had bought Pete Springate’s book and with copious amounts of hot vimto I was quite content. It was around 11pm when a carp crashed out which boosted my confidence. Carp tend to shoal up in the winter and normally where you find one its friends won’t be far away. The night past uneventful and I awoke to a cold frosty morning but with a nice hot coffee I was up and scanning the water. It wasn’t long before I noticed a small disturbance not to far away from my middle rod. I wasn’t sure what made the disturbance but something was moving and it definitely boosted my confidence. Around an hour later the indicator on my middle rod lifted slightly which had me hoovering over it, it held up for a couple of seconds and then jumped up again and with that I lifted into a slow heavy weight which just plodded around in deep water. Eventually I had the fish beaten and it slid into the net first attempt. In the winter I find that screaming runs are few and far between with only a few bleeps on the alarm resulting in a fish. The carp turned out to be a scale perfect 25lb common carp that glistened in the morning sun and made my session a great success. The carp fell to a BankBugs washed out pink R1 pop up and I made sure to switch all three rods onto the same for the last few hours.
No more fish came my way but I still had a very enjoyable session and was soon planning my next venture out. Luckily I managed to blag the following monday off work and made plans to visit a little water in kent called Mousehole fishery. I was joined by my mate Rob and we arrived at the fishery at around 7:30am. We had a stroll around the pretty little lake in hope to pinpoint some carp. With a couple of laps done we had a quick chat with the owner who told us that quite a few fish had be seen down towards the end of the lake in deeper water and as luck would have it no one was down there. We didn’t need to be told twice and in double quick time the barrow was heading towards a lovely little corner swim. Me and Rob set up next to each over, my swim covered some carpy looking margins to my left and a good amount of open water to explore while Rob had a nice island to his right and open water out in front.
We knew that fish might be present so didn’t want to thrash the water to a foam and instead I opted to make one or two cast to likely looking spots up the margin to my left and found the bottom was fairly firm and had a decent depth of water so with that out sailed two multi rigs one on a white pop up and the other on a washed out pink pop up. One was cast tight to an overhanging bush and the second was placed to a water inlet which at any time of the year can act as magnet to carp with it bringing in highly oxygenated water. For the third rod I chose to use a KD RIG with critically balanced maggots placed into a solid bag with crushed R1 boilies and maggots.
I kept the rod moving around in open water trying to search out any hungry carp. It was evident carp were in the area with one rolling only moments after and a bait positioned close to the showing fish soon resulted in a screaming take for Rob which turned out to be a stunning 17lb mirror carp. It wasn’t long before Rob was away again with a pretty little single figure common and I was getting my butt seriously kicked.
His action stopped as quick as it started and the afternoon passed very quickly but I stuck to recasting the solid bag every hour trying to search out them carp. I noticed that Rob had both his fish only 20 yards out so I put the solid bag out to around the same distance which turned out to be a good move as only 10 minutes later my bobbin started to dance up and down and I was soon in contact with a lively little carp and eventually a mid double common was being held up for the camera.
Soon after slipping the carp back my middle rod was away with a steady take but when I struck I was met with no resistance and put it down to a liner from fish moving closer and so decided to place all three rods at around 20 yards distance in hope to pick off another carp. The sun was starting to fade and we begun to pack away, as always the rods are left to last and this time it paid off with my right hand rod on the maggots was away once again. Upon lifting into the fish I knew it was small as I felt Tap Tap Tap and it was quickly in the net. What the fish lacked in size it certainly made up for in looks and was a perfect little mirror.
That little mirror signalled the end of our session but we had had a fantastic day with two fish each. We had had a good catch up and kept well fuelled with coffee, hot chocolate and pot noodles. It wasn’t until we were driving home talking about the day when we both mentioned that we had seen a lot of roach dimpling the surface just before we received a take which made us think that even if the carp were keeping low key the roach were giving away their location and its something that I will be paying more attention to when searching for carp in the future.
As for a quick recap of my sessions it shows the importance of location of the carp which is a big factor all year but a crucial one in the winter months. On both sessions I had carp show in the swim which confirmed that they were present and even the most subtle show can give away their location. It was also interesting that the activity of the roach always happened before a bite occurred and I will be paying great attention to any activity on the water from now on when trying to locate my quarry. Another thing to look at is bait colour as on my first session I fished three identical rigs in close proximity of each each other and the only one to produce a fish was the washed out pink, I’m not saying that this colour is the only one that will catch carp just on that particular session it was the one which tipped the odds in my favour. Maybe the next time I go the fish may show a preference for a red one which is why I start on a mix of colours and then swap all rods to the same one which produces the first fish. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed both sessions and never once found the cold weather uncomfortable and even as the temperatures plummet I will still be on the bank hopefully catching a fish or two.
Until next time if its not happening think positive and MAKE IT!!! Tommy Flower