Winter Carp Fishing

Winter Carp Fishing – Winter Carp Rigs – Winter Bait

In this article I will be covering basic winter carp fishing tips. If you’re brave enough to endure the winter conditions in pursuit of carp, then hopefully this article is helpful to you. I will be touching on winter carp rigs, winter carp bait and locating carp in winter.

winter carp fishing

I will start by saying that location is even more important when winter carp fishing, compared with summer carp fishing. Carp are very active in the summer and move around the lake a lot, meaning being on the fish is still a huge factor but it’s not game over completely if you aren’t. When winter carp fishing you have to be on the carp, otherwise you may as well go home. Location is so very important in winter as carp are dormant and usually hold up in packs in certain areas of the lake, usually where it’s most comfortable for them. Location is probably the hardest aspect of winter carp fishing as the carp can be hard to find due to them rarely showing themselves. There are a few go-to areas when fishing in winter, the first of these is snags; in the winter carp love spending time tight to islands and snags; it’s a comfortable area for them as it protects them from the elements meaning it is a perfect place to hold up. Deep water in cold conditions and shallow water in warm conditions; When it is a warm day don’t overlook fishing in the shallows, this area will be warmer and the carp will want to spend time in this area.

This leads me onto using zig rigs in winter. When thinking of winter carp rigs not a lot of people think of the zig. The zig rig is seen as a summer only tactic but it can and has been great for catching carp in winter. Carp will spend their time where it is most comfortable, there will be a certain depths that they find warmest and if you can position a hook bait in this zone then you’re in with a fantastic chance of catching a winter carp.

scopex fruitWinter carp bait – It is advised to use bait sparingly in winter, a huge bed of fishmeal boilies for a day session isn’t advised. Carp will be less active and thus less hungry for a big feed. It does depend on the lake and stock of carp but I would recommend fishing over only a handful of bait when the rods are in the water. Pop ups are particularly good in the winter, especially the bright ones. Using a single pop up is great as it allows you to cast to different areas frequently; this is a good thing to do when winter carp fishing to find where the carp are holding up. A bright pop up will also be mouthed by curious carp even if they aren’t feeding at the time, coupled with my favorite Hinged Stiff Rig and the result is a carp in the back of your net.


Winter carp rigs

Winter carp rig – IQ combi blowback rig


Winter carp rigs – Many carp anglers like to scale down their end tackle in winter, I’m not really one of them. The mouth of a carp does not get smaller in winter so I see no reason to use a smaller hook, this is just my opinion on the matter. My winter carp rigs do differ from my summer carp rigs in that they are usually shorter, let me explain. In winter the carp will be moving slowly and not feeding with much gusto, this is in contrast with summer when the carp are whizzing about tearing up the lakebed. A short rig is more likely to hook a carp when the carp are barely moving. Short carp rigs also suit my winter carp fishing tactics, when winter carp fishing I mainly use single hookbaits and small PVA bags; I much prefer to use a short rig when carp are feeding on small patches of concentrated bait.

Feeding times in winter also take place and they can be very specific. On a lot of lakes you will only get a bite at a certain time in the day/night, in my experience i’ve found 11am-4pm the most common feeding times. If you can, look back at past winters on your lakes and try to find out when the carp usually get caught. This will be extremely helpful as it means you can focus your fishing around these time frames and don’t have to spend pointless hours in the cold.

I have found that the best lakes to fish in winter are the ones that remain fished with a steady stream of bait going in. A lot of lakes tend to ‘shut down’ in winter as people stop fishing and as a result no bait is going in, this forces the carp into a dormant-like state making winter carp fishing extremely hard on these waters.

Winter is probably my favorite season for fishing, the carp are at their biggest and they are in amazing condition with lovely dark colors! However I will finish by saying if you are not comfortable when winter carp fishing then you will not enjoy it, remember you’re fishing to have fun.  My biggest tip is to make sure you are warm and have plenty of food, warm drinks and shelter. This means wearing multiple layers of clothing and having plenty of hot meals and fluids on hand. Thanks for reading, go catch yourself a winter carp!