Winter carp fishing

Catch carp in the cold 

Andy Piper shares some of his tips and tricks that have caught him winter carp to over 40lbs…

Words and pictures: Andy Piper

Every lake is different in the winter months, but it’s fair to say carp are less active, which makes their location harder. I still constantly watch the water for any shows and without doubt these signs can be very subtle. Maybe just a nose breaking the surface or a tail flicking over is all you see, but that can be all that’s needed to give the location of winter carp away. 

I mainly do day sessions in the colder months and it’s quite usual to see absolutely no signs of fish activity. Experience of the venue will help in these situations, past capture areas or known winter swims with good form. But I’m also happy to fish towards any features, such as the bottom of gravel bars, deep margins, old Lilly beds and sun facing snags are my favourite. 

The extra challenges winter fishing for carp brings is what I love so much about it. More effort in every area is needed for consistency, but the rewards of catching are greater. The fish are in top condition the banks are quieter and in the right day the action can come quick and the chance of a few bites is possible. Last year, in February, on Mustang Lake in Norfolk  I managed four bites in a short day with fish to over 40lb. 

I often get asked about rigs and baits in winter, but what I use mainly depends on fishery rules and the type of venue it is. On weedy type waters I favour a helicopter set up so I can change from bottom bait to pop-up rigs quickly depending on where the fish are showing or held up. A chod rig can be quickly put on if I’m unsure of the bottom or know is weedy. However if the lake I’m fishing is pretty clean all over the bottom, I like a simple in-line lead set up with a bottom bait or wafter hook bait. I keep things simple, tangle free with sharp hooks. My rigs do not really change all year round.

I do use more bait than most others I watch in the winter. The conditions, stock and type of lake will effect how much I put in, but I feel more confident fishing over a nice bit of quality boilie. I use a few different types of boilie, but they are all proven winter baits that have good success in low water temperatures. Fruity or creamy attractors are my favourite. Pre baiting is an edge if possible and I will nearly always put extra bait in when I leave. During a typical winter day session I will usually put 3-5 spombs of boilie over each rod. I want to get the carp confident and I think this helps me catch extra fish, instead of just scratching around for the odd lucky bite. 

Keeping warm and comfortable is not only important to enjoy the winter on the bank but also to fish effectively. I do watch too many anglers hide away in their bivvy all day, but like I said, one carp show you observe can make all the difference between a blank and capture. I will happily move swims if I see something, even if I only have an hour or so left, or have just set up and got rods out. Moving on fish is more important this time of year than any other in my opinion. I keep my kit organised and always turn up with a few extra rigs so I don’t waste valuable time. Feeding spells can be short in the colder months so being prepared is very important.

I hope a few of these basic tips help you out for the end of winter and you enjoy a few more frosty days on the bank before spring arrives. 

Who wouldn’t want to catch a winter carp like this beauty?!