As winter approached I decided I would fish a reasonably small local lake which held a decent stock of carp; somewhere I could fish short 24hr or 48hr sessions whenever I could fit them in with work.

This winter has been exceptionally busy at work in the Angling Direct mail order department, largely due to the milder conditions and of course there’s the Christmas rush. Then there was the spring like conditions through February and March (on a good day) that meant many customers carried on angling. Busy, busy, busy…

The lake I‘d chosen to fish was a bit of a mystery, as I didn’t know what it contained as I hadn’t visited the lake in the summer. However, I had done my homework taken the time to speak to a few people about the lake and they had assured me that there were a few good fish to go for.

In the winter I find that it’s always better to fish a venue with a reasonable head of fish in it for consistent results. Shallower lakes also seem to produce well. Unfortunately, this was not the case on here as it is fairly deep (depths down to 14 foot).

With the ticket sorted I had to think about how I was going to approach catching these carp in the cold winter months. In the end I decided to use the CC Moore Equinox boilies as the main food source – accompanied by their Tigers in Talin. On some sessions I also used a mixture of hemp, maize, tigers, CC Moore Shrimp Pellet, chick peas and the ever reliable Equinox boilies – all covered in a good glug of the matching liquid additive. The mix really did pack a punch of amazing visual colours and a gorgeous scent, which the fish would hopefully find irresistible.

I deployed between 5 to 7 Spombs to start with, and then I topped up again if I caught a fish. I used this combination on one of the spots and on another spot with a light scattering of 15 mm Equinox boilies on their own. Only 50 – 70 baits which I had also been soaked in the liquid additive to boost attraction.

The plan was for one rod to be fished on a snowman set-up consisting of a Sink Skin hooklink (15lb/silt colour) paired with either a size 6 or 8 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip hook. These are a very strong, sharp and reliable hook with a beaked point which I give a few strokes with a Point Doctor before casting. If you haven’t seen Point Doctors they are a brilliant tool that just takes a fine layer of the coating off of the hook and makes it sharper.

With this rig I mounted a glugged 15mm Equinox boilie coupled with a 12mm Citrus Blast Hellraiser pop-up. This combination served 2 specific purposes. Firstly, it takes the weight out of the boilie when the carp sucks it in ‘balancing’ the set up, and secondly for added visual and scent attraction. I like the combination as the hook baits together as they smell absolutely amazing.

To finish off the presentation I hooked on a small Micromesh PVA bag (a bit smaller than a golf ball) which contained one whole and three finely crushed boilies, as well as a piece of Gardner Dissolving Rig Foam. The addition of the bag helped to prevent tangles and gives a small pile of bait around the hookbait for the carp to home in on. The piece of foam in the bag helped me to bait very accurately because when the bag exploded the foam popped up directly above the spot.

If I fished over a bit of debris on the bottom (leaves or silk weed) I also mounted a piece of Dissolving Rig Foam around the hook to mask the hook point. The final piece of the rig jigsaw was the lead arrangement, which was a Covert Lead Clip arrangement.

On the other rod I chose to fish a Hinged Stiff rig. The hook section was tied using a size 5 Covert Chod Hook onto 25lb Trip Wire so the hook section had a slight curve to help the hook twist ensuring it takes hold in the bottom lip. This was attached to Covert size 12 Flexi Ring Swivel with a small piece of Critical Mass carefully moulded on the swivel to ensure it didn’t inhibit the hook section turning.

I prefer to balance my hinged rigs so the rig falls reasonably quickly and sits firmly on the bottom – so that when a fish comes onto the spot it doesn’t waft all over the place. I like the rig so sit steady but also able to be sucked up by a carp with ease; it’s finding this balance that makes the rig even more effective. I’ll add that the Gardner Critical Mass putty is (in my eyes) the best on the market as it sticks to any hook link material very well.

Now for the boom section I used 15lb camo-brown Disruption skinned hooklink around 5 to 7 inches in length; I really love how the colours are broken up on this hook link material and makes it very camouflaged. It’s a very strong hook link and blends into the bottom brilliantly. The rig’s attached to the Kwik-Lok Flexi Ring Swivel using a loop of about half an inch (tied using a figure of eight loop knot and fished on a helicopter setup consisting of Covert components). One last tip is that related to keeping the rig tidy and tangle free – I always steam the boom section to set it straight. Hookbait was a 15mm white or yellow Northern Special pop up, which is flossed to a large rig ring on the back of the hook. I fished this rig in a silty area over a scattering of boilies again with a piece of Dissolving Rig Foam on the hook for presentation purposes. The foam holds the rig up after the lead has hit the bottom, when the foam dissolves the stiff boom section kicks the rig away from the lead and falls nicely onto the spot with perfect presentation.

Depending on weather conditions I switched baiting strategies and the spots i.e. when it was warmer I’d fish shallower, normally around 7ft down the marginal shelf with the mixed spod mix and this proved very effective when conditions were right.

The other rod was normally fished in deeper water with the hinged rig. On trips when the weather was a little colder I’d fish the deeper spots in the middle of the lake but with less bait.

Interestingly enough on a few sessions I received takes from both spots; with two different baiting techniques. I found switching the rods around during each session kept the fish interested and tricked them all the way through the winter.

I mainly fished one swim, down in the deeper end of the lake, where I kept bait going in. I occasionally fished another swim which featured a nice gravel plateau that was around 4 feet in depth. I fished this swim in sunny, high pressure conditions.

I was getting fish from both areas, and over the winter I managed to bank a lot of carp; with most being mid-doubles up to 20lb. The campaign went well and I had some good sport, only blanking on three sessions. In reality I didn’t fish the lake very hard (due to work commitments) but made the most out of the sessions with one or two fish always ending up in the net.

In hindsight I feel this was predominantly down to application of a good food source and good, trusty end tackle. Now coming into spring a new journey begins for me as I’m just awaiting a ticket for a new syndicate water with some good targets to go for. Be sure to check some new blogs explaining more rig and baiting tactics featured on the CC Moore, Gardner Tackle and Angling Direct websites over the next few months.