Sorting the Bait as we Approach Winter

Shaun Harrison, owner of Quest Baits, gives us a heads up on his winter baiting tactics…

As the cooler weather is now starting to set in it is time for my annual autumn sort out of my tackle and bait but particularly the bait. From past experience I know that some of the baits that catch me a lot of summer fish will now stop working as effectively with the lowering of the water temperature. Yes, the carp will still eat them but certainly not with the same gusto as they did a month back. There are many reasons for this but on the whole they won’t be seeping out anything like same sort of attraction or stimulation to the fish that they did before the drop in temperature.

Now this really isn’t an issue to me as I have several baits which all have an incredibly long track record in their attractiveness to carp in the winter.

what carp bait to use in winter

Naked Hemp

It really does bemuse me why some anglers make life difficult for themselves by stubbornly continuing to use bait with little thought as to whether that bait is actually as attractive to a carp in the winter as it perhaps was in the summer.

More importantly this selfish behaviour can also stop so many other anglers enjoying sport for a lot of the highly effective summer baits can become almost impossible for carp to digest in the winter, due to the carps cold blooded make up, which gives them a much reduced metabolism, brought on by the cooling water.

Put in simple terms, the carp will eat them if they stumble across them (some baits give out little in the way of food signals in the cold months) but once they have eaten them their bodies struggle to cope with and to digest them so the carp remain full with less need to feed again for what can be a considerable period of time. This actually moves a stage further and can become very harmful to the fish, eventually making them ill and again less likely to want to feed with bait being stuck inside them.

So, for my own angling, the mixed pellet that has been diluted with Maximum Action Pellets will now become just Maximum Action Pellet mixed 50/50 with Micro Feed, a touch of Naked Hemp and a bit of broken (not crushed) boilie. This will form my small stick mixes and a tub of glug will be beaded to the bag to ring the changes and give the stick mix a quick dunk before casting.

what carp bait to use in colder weather

Micro Feed

Boilie wise I will be carrying just Magnum White/Magnum Duo as my main bait with a selection of alternative hook baits. These will be the baits that have also caught me so many cold water fish over the years and will be Fruity Trifle (I have caught more winter carp on this over the years than any other bait), Rahja Spice and Ghurkka Spice (several sizes and a mix of colour in each tub). I have found so many times in the past that a re-cast with something totally different on the hair will often lead to a much quicker take.

Baiting wise, I will be keeping it in small amounts definitely preferring the little and often approach rather than the commonly seen, dump it in and sit on it. Most of this will be done with a Mini Spomb to beat the gulls.

So, there you have it. No secrets that is exactly what I will be carrying. Then again I might just blend a few Chilli Chocolate boilies in with the Magnum’s and of course I almost forgot to mention the essential tub of paste. I use this in mesh bags as well as giving baits a paste wrap at times.

If in doubt with your bait, take it out of your bag. Feeding wrong at this time of the year can affect your angling as well as that of others for weeks to come. You don’t need much bait so now could be the time to try something with a proven cold water track record. All bait is cheap when you aren’t needing to pile it in.

Best fishes
Shaun Harrison


2 thoughts on “Sorting the Bait as we Approach Winter

  1. Paul Cooper says:

    Shaun has a wealth of experience in this particular field and I fully support his ideas around his choice of bait.
    I have witnessed fishing on a 7 acre lake being totally ruined through a winter campaign because of one angler. He decided to deposit 30 kilo of fishmeal baits during January and February. A few carp were being caught on high protein baits and birdy mixes until our man did his deed. Carp are cold blooded and cannot digest fishmeal and oils once the temperature drops. Once a carp has consumed fishmeal bait, it is likely to remain in its stomach until the water warms up.
    Bird seed baits with plenty of roughage in it is the answer, no oils or fishmeal, This along with Ethyl Alcohol flavours for quick leakage in cold conditions will work all winter. I personally still do not over flavour even in cold conditions, relying on the quality of the base mix that I am using.

  2. To be fair some of the LT fish meals can be digested okay by the carp but I choose to er on the side of caution and at the end of the day we can never be sure the fish meals being used are those we are told are being used.

    Simple safe answer is ‘If in doubt – leave it out’!

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