In my experience no two winter sessions have ever been the same, but one thing always remains the same in my approach to winter carp fishing — never go into a session with a pre-conceived plan!
Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t prep for a winter carp fishing session but more that I don’t expect to fish with a certain rig, bait or imagine I know where the fish are likely to be residing. I do, as I am sure you will, have preferred rigs and baits which always make a good starting point. Just don’t forget that this is the time of year where no rules apply, so take a few options along for the ride as you may just be surprised what works on the day.
The slightest change in weather can have a massive affect on the carps behaviour, as little as one degree increase in the water temp can sometimes be enough to get them feeding again so make sure you change your approach and location accordingly.
I always note down the wind direction for the week prior to my session to give myself the best chance of locating a starting point.
I will normally start my session off in the corner of the lake that’s has not seen any direct wind for the longest period of time as this tends to be slightly warmer water, if this is not available I will start as far away from any angling pressure as possible.
I make a point of not only taking as little as I can get away with but also setting up just enough to catch and land fish, this helps with packing down quickly and moving onto the next peg when necessary. I try and set up away from the banks edge, this is too ensure the noise is kept to a minimum and i always fish my near margin first as this has accounted for some quick bites in the past. At the point I feel the swim is exhausted or my chance of a bite has gone I will move onto the next and continue to do so until I find a swim with a chance of a bite or two.
As the light fades at the end of your winter’s session make sure you keep your eyes peeled, this is normally the time in which the fish are most likely to show them selves so stay mobile and hopefully catch more fish 👊
Winter rigs and bait
For all of my winter carp fishing no matter what time of the season, I use the shelf life boilies from PCF, I find these are just as good as the frozen and they suite my style of short sporadic sessions better as no prior thaw is required and I can keep them in my bucket from session to session without concern of them going bad.
My simple short braided hook link with a critically balanced 10mm PCF pop up is my preferred winter rig, I will on occasion use an artificial maggot as the bait stop to add an additional visual element.
I have used other rigs during the winter to good effect like the maggot ring but I will always go back to what has worked well on previous winter sessions if I’m not catching.
The hook bait choice will normally start with a Crystal white on one rod and a Twisted orange on the other, these will then change throughout out the session until I receive my first bite. This is used in conjunction with a small PVA bag or just simply dipped into some glug.
I always tie up a few small bags the night before the session to minimise the set up time in the first swim of the day, these normally consist of four boilies crushed up or some maggots.
If I am fortunate enough to find an area of the lake with a few fish, then I will apply a small amount of bait to gauge the response, the mix for this would consist of crushed and chopped Sweet amino boilies with a little rock salt and a good helping of the matching liquid.
I have found that less is definitely more when it comes to winter baiting so keeping it bright and boosted for the best results.
My top winter tips
On all of my winter carp fishing sessions i stay mobile, now this doesn’t only help you locate those elusive winter bites but also keeps you warm and when your warm you will be far more receptive to those subtle signs of carp activity.
Go open minded, just because a specific approach has worked all year doesn’t mean it’s a good winter one, make sure you take a selection of bottom baits and pops in various colours to maximise your options and chances.
Use social media and the knowledge of anglers who may already be fishing your chosen venue to locate areas that fish have recently been caught from, also make notes on locations that you catch fish from on previous session as carp are creatures of habit.
While fishing your chosen venue use a slightly tighter line that usual, this will allow you to receive line bites which will give you a better idea if any fish are in your swim.
Finally don’t ever come away from a blank session being disappointed that you didn’t catch, use each and every session as a stepping stone to unlocking the code to your venue of choice.
Always remember it’s never too late to wind in and move on a show no matter how small it may have been, one minute in the right spot is worth a day in the wrong.