To be successful when fishing in the middle of winter it is essential to keep a close eye on the weather and make your plans accordingly.


If you choose your targets based on river level and weather conditions you’re in with a good chance of catching in almost any conditions. Here are ten tips that hopefully will help you get the most out of your festive fishing.

1. If rivers are low and clear chub, grayling and pike are the ideal species to pursue as they will all feed in even the coldest temperatures. A mobile approach is my preferred tactic as it gives me the best chance of finding feeding fish.


2. Simple is best for chub and it doesn’t get much simpler than link ledgering with big baits like cheese paste or bread flake. By varying the number of shot on the link you can use the current to take your bait under over hanging trees or to the edge of a crease where the chub will be spending much of their time. Keep free offerings to two or three balls of paste or pieces of flake – you want to catch them not feed them and usually if chub are present and feeding you’ll get a bite fairly quickly.


3. Grayling are best targeted with trotted maggots. Try and fish them as close to the riverbed as possible as that’s where the grayling spend most of their time.


4. Sardines are undoubtedly my favourite pike bait on rivers. Fish them under a sliding float set a couple of feet over depth with a drilled bullet to keep the bait in place. Target slower, deeper swims and recast every 15 minutes to search all areas of a swim and don’t be afraid to fish a bait really close in as pike often lie up right under the bank.

5. Barbel love flood water but there is one proviso, namely that the water is relatively warm. Obviously, the key word is relatively and what you want are rising water temperatures. A nice mild westerly wind bringing lots of rain is ideal, whereas snow melt or rain falling in close to freezing temperatures is the kiss of death. Forget big beds of bait in floods, they’ll simply be washed downstream, probably before you wind your bait-dropper in. Instead go for smelly baits and if the flow isn’t too high a feeder packed very firm with groundbait and scolded pellets so that it remains in the feeder for a long time creating a nice trail of scent to lead barbel to your hookbait.



Stillwater fishing can be tough at this time of year but so long as there isn’t an ice covering there’s usually something worth targeting. Whatever species you target bear in mind that often they will only feed for a short spell at a particular time of day. Whilst this is often as the light falls and into the first hour of darkness it isn’t always. Once the better feeding periods are identified concentrate your efforts at these times.

1. Pike are the traditional winter species for good reason – they will feed in any conditions. I have found that the colder it is the more likely it is pike will be shoaled up in a relatively small area, so it is well worth recasting regularly and moving swims to try and locate them.


2. If you fancy carp fishing do yourself a favour and fish well-stocked waters where often carp will feed even in the coldest months. Low stocked waters are hard at the best of times so leave them until conditions are more favourable. Even on well stocked waters fish for one bite at a time and remember time sent locating fish is much more productive than sitting behind rods cast out where there are no fish. As for bait, bright single pop-ups are popular for a reason – they work!

3. Big roach in stillwaters are a great option as often smaller fish stop feeding once temperatures drop so the chances of a big redfin getting to your bait first improve considerably. Look no further than maggots on small heli-rigs fished in conjunction with a swimfeeder if you want a tried and trusted method.


4. Big perch will feed in most conditions, but I have found milder conditions are much better. Lobworms or raw tiger prawns fished over a bed of casters and chopped worm is a reliable tactic.

5. If time is short an hour or two with a lure rod is always worth a go. Even if you catch nothing you’ll feel better for making the effort!