My fishing this winter has been a struggle. The lake where I have been concentrating my time really does shut up shop during the winter. It hasn’t helped with the fact that the lake was very weedy last year and in places on the lake the weed is still up to the surface, some 5ft of solid Canadian pond weed. I am convinced that the fish have been laying up in this weed throughout the winter due to the extra degree or two of warmth that the weed will hold.

Unfortunately, we have had one of our fury friends (Otter) on the lake this winter which has had at least 4 fish and it is heart breaking to walk round and find the damage these creatures have done. With otters being present I am sure the carp have also been aware of this sort of predator and try and hide, the weed beds being the obvious place. Thankfully the club, after lengthy talks with the land owners have been given permission to fence the lake, I just hope it won’t be too late.

Anyway my fishing.

I have only managed a few short sessions this winter, with work and family commitments, also the lake freezing for 2 weeks I have struggled to find the time to get out. Thankfully I haven’t missed much as there has only been about 8 fish caught since Christmas.

I am lucky enough that I only live a 5 minute walk from the lake and generally walk it every day with the dog. This gives me an opportunity to keep an eye on the, watching for signs of fish and find out if anything is getting caught.

When I have been fishing I have chosen my areas carefully. Getting close to the large weed beds has been a key factor as like I’ve already mentioned I am sure the fish are held up there. I have seen a few subtle shows from the carp and these have always been around the edges of the weed beds.

I have been using the Nut Job this winter, with its sweet aroma and subtle red colour it was the right bait for the winter months. When it comes to bait application I never use a lot of bait this time of year, just enough for a bite is all you need out there. This does depend on the lake you are fishing but on this lake big beds just isn’t the one. I generally use small sticks of boilie crumb with a few grains of hemp mixed in. With hemp in the mix the boilie crumb doesn’t compact as much in the stick which in turn allows the water penetrate the stick and help the PVA to break down quicker.

I very rarely put out any loose feed this time of year but if I do it’s all about flavour and smell than substance. So a couple of small spod’s of boilie crumb mixed with some groundbait and hemp with a good amount of Nut Job Glug has been all I have put out. This produces lots of food signals but not a lot of food, making your hook bait stand a better chance of being picked up. Unfortunately for me this winter it hasn’t been a good one and the fish haven’t been very obliging.

Now we are coming into March I am like a kid at Christmas this time of year. For me it is the most exciting few months when it comes to carp fishing.

Fresh buds are starting to form on the trees, the migrating birds start to return and most importantly the fish are slowly waking up. They will start showing themselves as they try and rid themselves of the leaches that have attached whilst the carp have been laid up in their winter slumber. This results in the fish burning energy which in turn means the fish need to replenish the burnt energy by feeding.

But remember, like us, if we haven’t eaten for some time the worst thing we can do is eat loads as our body wouldn’t be able to cope with it, this is the same with carp. A small meal in the right place, just enough for a bite is the best tactic this time of year.

Working shifts, lates, earlies and nights I have to fit my fishing around these. Going before, after and between my shifts and the odd weekend thrown is what I have to work with. Last spring this really worked for me, getting to the lake having a quick walk round to try and find some fish and then setting up on them resulted in quick bites, most within a couple of hours.

I am intending to do the same this spring to try and make the most of the short feeding spells they have this time of year.

The biggun in the lake, my target fish, got caught 2 weeks ago at 49lb by a good friend so going by previous years it won’t see the bank again for a few months. This has sort of released me from the pressure of being there as much over the next few weeks so I am hoping to get out and give another lake a go to try and put a bend in the rod, something I am in desperate need of!

I will update you over the next few weeks of my results.

Until then, get out there and enjoy yourself and remember, its only fishing.