It’s that time of year again when we start to scratch for the odd take. The carp are at their best weights after feeding up through September and October ready for the winter. Their stomachs should be full on naturals and hopefully some of our boilies as well.
As the days shorten and Winter approaches, both the air and water temperature reduces, slowing down any remaining feeding spells to a minimum. Selecting or guessing the short feeding periods of the carp comes down to an art. Those who master this will have success and the rest will fail.
How do we identify one of these feeding periods which might only be a couple of hours each week?
Maybe it is a short period of low pressure with mild damp weather, long periods of high pressure, a long cold spell or a few warmer sunny days. There is no definite answer. Just when you think you have cracked it and banked a few fish, you can spend the rest of the winter with motionless indicators.
We have all done it but mother nature changes the rules each year. There are so many probabilities that influence the carp’s feeding habits that we have to have luck on our side. I have caught winter carp in freezing conditions, heavy rain and during a long period of high pressure with not a cloud in the sky. The next year, exactly the same conditions and zilch, zero, nothing, a total blank. Why? If I knew the answers I would not be writing this blog.
So what do I think is the answer?
Carp react to natural hatches of insects. I visit my garden pond every day, even during the coldest of days in Winter, and it is when I witness these hatches taking place that I try to get down to the lake. I may not catch every time that this occurs but my confidence would be high and I do not feel that I am wasting my time by casting a line. I will use this theory to try and work out when the best chances of a bite is possible, which usually occurs early morning, midday or the last few hours of daylight. After a couple of sessions a week, as long as the lake does not freeze over, I hopefully will pick up a couple of fish over the winter period.
This winter I will be fishing 2 waters, both for sessions of no longer than 6 hours at a time – more often than not for no more than 3 hours. These waters do not contain a lot of carp and I will be targeting carp of 25 to 40lb. I will also be watching the weather reports and monitoring catch reports from other anglers.
I have already reduced the size of my hook baits and consequently the size of my hooks; 6’s or 8’s Smartpoint SP310 hooks to the knotless knot, short tight hair rigs with a very short hook-link to as short as 3 inch.
My hook-bait boilies will between 9 and 12mils max, with any loose fed baits being either crumbed in a PVA mesh, or boilies of 12 to 16mil on stringers. I will be fishing 3 rods, with at least one being used as a roaming rod, recasting every hour to a different location in my swim. At the end of my short sessions I will introduce a small quantity of freebies spread over a large area.
It is very rare that these tactics fail me, but again, who can predict what this Winter is going to throw up. Fingers crossed we do not have a big freeze. Best of luck to those that are willing to brave the wet and cold, you deserve it.
For lots more posts on cold weather carping take a look here – Winter Carp Fishing Tips