Locating carp at any time of year is by far the most important factor when it comes to tripping them up and winter is certainly no exception, in fact, getting it right in the winter is more important than any time of year.
As the temperatures plummet, the carps metabolism does to and as a result, the fish begin to move very little, often shoaling up in the most comfortable areas of the lake where the temperatures are consistent.
This can make tracking them down extremely hard and unlike the summer where you can often visibly see signs of fish, winter can often be the opposite, whereby not even the faintest signs on the surface are present.
There are certainly exceptions to this and winter, as we know it, can vary from year to year. Weather conditions play a huge part in the winter and even a brief switch to a mild spell will often quickly change the carp’s behaviour.
On the real cold days of winter, where temperatures have been consistently low for at least a few days, chances are the fish will be shoaled up over the deeper water. This certainly doesn’t mean they will be on the bottom, in fact, they spend the majority of the time during the winter up in the layers, sitting at a level most comfortable for them.
These deeper areas are certainly a good area to look in these conditions and certainly don’t ignore zigs, while bright hookbaits will work, zigs will often trip up carp at the level they are shoaled up. The bottom third of the water column can certainly be good on cold, overcast days, whereas the top third can be good on those crisp, bright days.
During those brief warm spells where the sun can often feel warm, you may find fish in the shallower areas of the lake. If a brief spell of mild weather has been forecast, this can often be the switch to get the fish moving a little again and during these periods, they will seek out the warmest water. Bright single hookbaits can be a winner when tripping up fish moving in and out of shallow water.
Norfolk reeds are also excellent in the winter and you will find fish tucked away between the dense reed stems. These stems offer warmth and at times when the sunlight is beaming down on the area, the fish love to sit among this type of marginal foliage. Small PVA bags cast close to the edge of these reed beds can score well I the wintertime.
Finally, if your lake has any overhanging trees or snags, these will often provide refuge and sanctuary for fish during the winter. These areas will naturally hold warmth and provide cover as the water clarity goes clearer during the winter. Snags can be tricky to fish effectively if you haven’t done that type of fishing before, but remember to be sensible, fish locked up with the rod fully secured to areas where it is easy to bring fish away from any obtrusive snags.
Always stay vigilant in the winter; mobility can often be key, especially when fishing out in the pond, as you are playing a bit of a guessing game at times as to where they will be. Maximum attraction and little food is an effective approach; boosted single hookbaits and small bags of crumb will provide enough attraction to bring bites in the right situation.
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