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Winter Carp Fishing can be very testing at times and I've personally gone months through the winter without even seeing a fish. Or if I have seen them, then finding the motivation to move onto them is often hard when it's bitterly cold, chucking it down and the winds blowing a hoolie. But through the winter months, a couple of hours in the right spot is better then 24hrs in the wrong one!
First thing about winter fishing, make sure you are layered up and warm, with hot drinks and food to keep your energy levels up. Even if you see fish and you think you are in the right spot, they can soon move off and show elsewhere, so its no good being cold and wrapped up in your sleeping bag, you need to keep your eyes on the water. The same goes for the night, as they're a lot longer in the winter so don't lie in your bed watching a film with earphones in! Keep the sound low so you can hear any fish activity through the night and try to get up at first light because that can be a very productive time. Sit quiet with a hot drink whilst watching and listening to the water ( if you can't see it for mist) to make sure you are on the money.
If you get to a water and you can't see any fish signs or it's a very busy lake and you haven't the time because the pegs will be limited, then look for reed beds or large snags in the water. Carp love places like this, for the safety and warmth they give off, just like on canals, they love to get under moored boats because of the warmth of the hulls. Carp are cold blooded so they are the same temperature as the water. For this reason, they love to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs so if you know the sun is going to come out, try fishing where the sun hits the water and not in cold and dark or shaded spots. I'm not saying you won't catch from places like that but I've done it many times when you think you're on the money under an overhanging bush or tree on an island say, then after a few hours I've moved the hookbait to where the sun's been hitting the other side of the island and its shallower and immediately caught. Also its a myth that carp only hug the bottom in the winter, they can be at all levels. Just like when you go in the sea for a swim, you will always find a warmer spot and that's no different to carp, so never ignore the shallows on milder days or when the sun is out because the shallows will warm up quicker and the carp will visit that part of the lake.
Baiting up in the winter can always be a tricky one but the biggest tip I can give you is to start of sparingly, perhaps a bright hookbait and a small stick. Because carp are cold blooded their metabolism is slow and they don't need much food, also their eye sight can go a bit cloudy so the brighter the hookbait the easier it is to see, that's why yellow has always been very popular. The main key to baiting in the winter is to always keep in mind, once you put it in, you can't take it back out, so little and often does the trick because sometimes just the sound of the bait hitting the water is enough to bring carp into your area.
The last thing I want to say which may go against the grain with a lot of people but please remember this is only my opinion. Slack Lining! I've been carp fishing since the mid 80's and watched many carp swim through and around my lines without spooking them. A lot of times in the winter you may just get, one or two beeps from your alarm on a bite and that could be your only chance. So if you are fishing at long distance or even 30 yards, if your line is slack, pinned all the way along the bottom, left swinging loose off the tips of your rods, running slack over your alarms with your bobbins lying flat on the floor, HOW can that give you the indication you need for a lot of the twitchy winter bites?? The only time i will fish slightly slacker is if I'm fishing very close in, like in the margin and I want to make sure the last two meters is on the bottom. I honestly feel there are too many DVD's and videos out there scaring people into buying products that they don't need and teaching people to fish certain ways just for the company's gain. Also you can have as many experts as you want but there's one thing I can tell you, they will NEVER know what a carp is thinking and it is only their thoughts that they are putting into your heads and not the carps.
I will leave you with this to think about - if you were walking through a wood or down a lane and you walked through a cobweb that you DID NOT see, if you are like me it would spook you and you will move quickly out of the way and rush to rid it from your face BUT if you saw it you would duck under it or go around it and carry on without being spooked! I'm not saying fish don't spook off lines but perhaps they just never saw it.
If you would like any information, you can pop into our fishing tackle shop near Nuneaton any time, or get in touch, we are always happy to talk more about fishing and give you any advice you're after!