With winter here and temperatures dropping rapidly, many anglers will be looking at their tactics and thinking about cold water baits and fining down their rigs ready for those tricky cold water carp.
So, with thoughts of a winter jet black mirror in the folds of my landing net I thought I’d write a short piece on winter fishing to give some food for thought.
First up is locating the carp (as always). It’s generally known that carp don’t move too far in the cold months and they frequent the same piece of water year after year. With this in mind if you have caught or know where carp have been caught in previous winters on your chosen venue then this would be the obvious place to start. Even on large, deep lakes such as Argal Reservoir for example the fish can be found in the shallower water year after year in the winter. When I say shallower I’m still talking 12-15 feet but this is the shallower part of this particular lake, so don’t discount the shallows thinking it’s too cold and the fish will be in deeper water because this isn’t always the case. Once you have sussed out where they are you can virtually discount the rest of the lake barring some superb low pressure systems and warm weather for the time of year which could get them on the move!
Winter day sessions are usually the way forward for me. I have caught lots of carp during the hours of darkness during the winter months but I really enjoy the winter days, minimal kit and being on the move, regularly re-casting and changing hook baits until I hit the winning formula! I find the sunny days are the best ones and depending on the circumstances the fish will move short distances seeking out the sun, a bit like us really!
I have caught winter carp on all sorts of tactics over the years from snowman hook baits with PVA mesh bags to bright singles on chod rigs, but one tactic that I like is the use of maggots! I’ve not previously written about carp fishing with maggots, so here are a few thoughts and how I go about using them. Carp adore maggots, which must come down to the movement of them, the taste, the ease of digestibility, the goodness and the safety of being natural. The problem for us anglers is presentation and nuisance species such as perch, bream and roach. That said plastic baits can help enormously with presentation adding attractive colours, buoyancy and resistance to any nuisance fish. When I say nuisance fish, and before anyone gets testy, I’m talking little bait robbers, not the specimens because there ain’t much better than a big winter roach!
In Cornwall, where I do most of my fishing maggots don’t really get used in carp fishing due to the high numbers of large bream in all of the reservoirs. Saying that, the cormorants are thinning them out rapidly but that’s a whole different subject!
I fish a small syndicate which doesn’t hold massive carp, but does contain some real dark stunners and has no nuisance fish present. This is an ideal venue for winter fishing and using maggots, no nuisance fish and tap water clarity so I can watch the carp. The bottom of the lake is clear in areas but very soft with lots of debris littered all over it including dead or dying weed and deep pockets of silt. Long running chods work well as do solid bags, however when it comes to fishing the maggots I use an inline lead which is simply adapted to make a helicopter set up. This gives me something to attach a large mesh bag of maggots and also attach the hook bait too, which helps avoid any tangles and helps with casting accuracy. This also slows the lead down as the whole lot descends through the water and touches down softly on the bottom rather than plugging in at high speed! As you can see the photos illustrate this.
Gardner skins or Trickster Heavy braid, however the new Ultra Skin is amazing!” src=”https://gardnertackle.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2006-02-26-20.52.11.jpg” alt=”Hook links are any of the Gardner skins or Trickster Heavy braid, however the new Ultra Skin is amazing!” width=”623″ height=”467″ />
The inline is attached to a length of Gardner CamFlex Leadcore or Camflex lead-free. I also remove the insert from the inline lead and replace this with a Drop Out Lead Insert. On the insert I mount a Covert Safety bead, a Size 12 Covert Kwik-Lok Flexi-ring swivel and another safety bead to form a helicopter set up. I can slide the beads into the position I need to keep the hook link taught on the cast after it has been clipped to the mesh bag. This is a safe method as the swivel can push the top bead off or bounce over the top of it if required in the event of a breakage.
Gardner Wrappers come into their own.” src=”https://gardnertackle.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Glo-Pro.jpg” alt=”When baiting up with the wrigglers keep things as accurate as possible and this is where the use of Glo-Pro and a set of Gardner Wrappers come into their own.” width=”623″ height=”467″ />
Hook links are any of the Gardner skins or Trickster Heavy braid, however the new Ultra Skin is amazing! I use either the Covert Mugga or Covert Chod hook and tie my hook links either KD style, Mag-aligner or if I want popped up hook baits I’ll use pop up boilies in conjunction with a Pop Up Hook Aligner and attach the maggots to the pop up. On all the hook links I use kit from the Enterprise Tackle range of plastics, which will obviously include the fake maggots, but also I’ll use the plastic boilies in conjunction with a match hook so I can hook the maggots on the match hook and pull this into the plastic boilie. This is an extremely fast way to re-bait a rig rather than messing around with floss and a sewing needle, which is fiddly and requires patience! Lastly, when baiting up with the wrigglers keep things as accurate as possible and this is where the use of Glo-Pro and a set of Gardner Wrappers come into their own. Use this kit with confidence because all the little percentages add up and ultimately make the difference.
I hope this little article gives you some inspiration and confidence to get the rods out and have a go this winter. Stick to the days, stay light, mobile and on the move which is far more enjoyable than sitting in a cold dark bivvy!