Top 10 Winter Carp Fishing Tips (Guide On How To Catch Carp In Cold Weather)

Top 10 winter carp fishing tips

Large carp are usually old, wise and can be hard to catch even in the best of conditions.

Couple this with cold weather and wintery type conditions, you add a large degree of difficulty to an already difficult pastime.

In the winter the water temperature is low. In cold conditions, everything slows down and this includes a carps movement and feeding habits.

Carp feed less in the winter and, as such, you really need to maximise every single opportunity you get if you are going to be successful and see a carp on the bank.

In this article, I will take you through 10 top winter carp fishing tips that both myself and many anglers have successfully used to provoke that elusive take and make the pain of sitting in wintery conditions all worthwhile.

Winter Carp Fishing Tips

So the lure and addiction of catching carp has taken over and you have decided to bite the bullet and venture out for a session in freezing conditions.

Check out these top winter carp fishing tips that should help improve your chances of catching.

1. Use smaller baits when carp fishing in winter

In cold conditions, carp move around a lot less. Their metabolisms are slowed down and they expel less energy.

As a result of this, carp do not need to feed as often or as much. Presenting a 24mm boilie in front of a carp that doesn't really need to eat, may cause it to turn its nose up and swim right past.

In winter, I find I have more success with a carp bait that is a maximum of 15mm in size. You could even go smaller if you feel that nuisance fish or smaller, F1 carp won't be an issue.

A bright bait is also a good option as light conditions are generally quite poor in the winter and a bright, easily seen bait can sometimes tempt a bite. In fact using a bright bait is a really key winter carp fishing tip.

I really like the High Impact Wafters by Mainline Baits in the Diamond White version. You can check them out here...

2. Glug & enhance your baits for winter carp fishing

As well as using bright bait, we recommend you try and enhance your bait further by using a glug.

I often see carp anglers using a glug to enhance baits, in all conditions but, for me, it's even more important to do so in cold weather. It really is one of those winter carp fishing tips that gets forgotten all too easily.

If visibility is poor and the carp aren't moving around much, then tempting carp to your bait via smell and taste can only improve your success rate.

The longer you glug baits for, the more of the flavour will seep into your boilie so I always recommend glugging for a minimum of 2 hours before casting out if possible.

A decent glug I have had a lot of success with is called 'The Krill' by Sticky Baits. You can check it out here...

Sticky Baits The Krill Glug

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3. Find the known feeding spots of carp in winter

If you were to be asked, where's your favourite place to eat? you could probably answer two or three of your favourite restaurants.

Carp are similar in the sense that they have some particular areas of water that they visit more often than others to feed.

This may be an area that is rich in natural food or provides cover and a degree of protection for the fish whilst feeding.

Whatever or wherever these favourite areas are, if you can find them and present a bait on them then you are far more likely to be successful.

So, how do you find these known feeding spots? The following 3 ways is what many successful carp anglers use and are winter carp fishing tips that are often ignored by more inexperienced fishermen.

  • Use local knowledge - Observe or ask the local carp anglers of the water and note down where fish have been taken from in the past.
  • Look for features - If you have been carp fishing for a while, no doubt you have fished to and caught from certain features in the lake. This may be along the margins, to an island, to a reed bed, to a gravel bar etc. These features are proven to hold carp so would be a good place to start.
  • Look for signs of fish before casting out - Location is key to be a successful carp angler. If you can find the fish then you have a much greater chance of catching them. So, before you start fishing, take the opportunity to walk around the water and look closely for signs of activity. These may be swirls, bubbles or (if you're lucky) you may actually see carp moving.
top 10 carp fishing tips in winter

Fishing to known holding spots in winter can catch a fish or two

4. Use less loose feed when fishing for carp in winter

As previously mentioned, a carps metabolism is a lot slower in colder water and everything slows down, including their movement and the frequency they eat.

With carp generally eating less, the worst thing you can do is to bombard your swim with a load of bait. In fact this is an important winter carp fishing tip to consider if you want to see more fish on the bank in cold weather conditions.

If the fish do start feeding, you need to ensure that they have every opportunity of finding your hook bait and not fill themselves with your loose offerings.

Single hook baits often work well in winter with many carp anglers choosing this approach to maximise the small window when carp do feed.

I often use a small PVA mesh of freebies when casting out my hook bait in winter that allows a small offering of bait around my hook bait as a ploy to tempt any roaming fish.

This is a great PVA mesh system that many anglers use from the reputable Fox...

Fox Edges Fast Melt PVA Mesh System: 25mm

11 new from £9.99
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5. Re-cast and move your baits often in winter

With a slower metabolism in cold water, carp move a lot less in winter compared to the summer months.

Some study's show carp to stay in the same general area for days in winter before venturing out.

If this happens, it is a case of getting your bait to the fish rather than the fish finding your bait.

I have seen a lot of anglers have success with a roaming approach to their winter fishing and this winter carp fishing tip can be the fundamental difference between success and failure.

Quite often casting to a different spot every one to two hours can be the difference in seeing a carp on the bank or not. 

10 top carp fishing tips in winter

Casting often and moving can achieve success in winter (picture courtesy of angling trust)

6. Hit single beeps

Carp are not as ferocious in their eating habits in winter and can quite often be seen sat stationery whilst sucking in food in the same spot.

If this food so happens to be your hook bait then you will not get the screaming run associated with a carp bolting off when hooked.

You could still, however, receive one or two beeps from your bite alarms generated from the extra vibrations on your line from the carp picking up your bait. 

So, as a key winter carp fishing tip to maximise your opportunities of catching, hit these one beepers as more often than not you will be in.

10 top winter carping tips

As soon as that alarm sounds - hit it!

7. Use back leads

This winter carp fishing tip is related slightly to the previous tip of hitting one beepers.

Because we know that striking at the first hint of a potential bite can be successful, you will want to maximise the number of times that this is an actual take and not a fish swimming into your line.

Having your mainline pinned to the lakebed will ensure it's well out of the way of any moving fish that could cause a false bite.

It also helps in fooling those wise old carp that can spot danger from an anglers line from a mile off!

8. Use an anti-eject rig (one of the key winter carp fishing tips)

So, with slow-moving fish that have a suppressed appetite, takes can be few and far between.

If you do get a take, however, no doubt you would want to make sure that you achieve a strong hook hold and have the best opportunity to land the fish.

To help with this, using a well-tied, anti-eject carp rig can pay dividends.

There are many, modern and popular rigs being used by carp anglers at the moment. If you are interested in these we have a whole article dedicated to the best carp rigs that you may want to check out.

Two of the best carp rigs recommended for winter carp fishing is the blow-back rig and the chod rig.

You can check out readymade versions of these rigs here...

9. Ensure you have the right clothing for winter fishing

Now, this winter carp fishing tip really isn't designed to teach you to suck eggs but you will be amazed how many carp anglers get this wrong.

If you are fishing in freezing conditions and you are just so cold you cannot feel any part of your body, then there's no way you will be able to fish to the best of your ability.

Above all, the sport of angling is, for many, an enjoyable experience. There is nothing enjoyable about contracting frostbite on a 24-hour winter session.

With the hours of daylight also being a lot less in the winter you may have to invest in a suitable head torch if you plan on fishing into the evening.

Also, ensure that you are wearing the best carp fishing clothing that you can afford. This ideally includes a thermal-lined, all in one suit, thermal socks, thermal lined boots a fleecy type hat and a decent set of gloves.

You can also purchase some hand warmers that are great to warm up your hands or feet throughout your session.

10. Ensure your bivvy is up to the task of winter carp fishing

On the subject of comfort, an important piece of equipment to consider if you are to fulfil a longer session in the winter is a shelter.

For shorter, day sessions, a decent fishing umbrella or a brolly system may suffice. But if you are planning an overnight session I recommend you invest in a good quality bivvy.

When choosing a bivvy for winter fishing, it's important for it to have a winter skin.

This is basically a second layer (sometimes called skin), that goes over the top of the main shelter. The additional layer increases the bivvy's insulation properties and can help contain any heat inside the bivvy.

Many of the reputable brands in the fishing industry produce bivvy's that are suitable for winter fishing.

A firm favourite for myself and many carp anglers when winter fishing is the Trakker SLX V3.

The main bivvy has an inner capsule and if you purchased the overwrap as well, you have effectively got a triple skinned bivvy that is super warm and great at keeping condensation out.

You can check it out here...

On top of a decent bivvy, it is a good idea to also invest in a bedchair cover and a thick sleeping bag with good thermal properties.

Sleeping bags tend to be rated in 'seasons' with the warmer bags being rated 5 seasons.

My favourite sleeping bag for winter fishing is the NGT 5 season sleeping bag as it really does keep you warm and comfortable even in the coldest of conditions. It also doesn't break the bank!

Final Thoughts

So you've decided to bite the bullet to venture out and brave the elements for a spot of winter carp fishing.

The top 10 winter carp fishing tips in this article, will help you prepare for your session and give you the best possible opportunity to get a carp or two on the bank.

There is one final tip though...

And that is to not get disheartened.

Carp fishing can be tricky at the best of times but in winter, even more so.

A well thought out and patient approach often pays dividends, but if you are not catching, don't give up.

You never know, on your next session you may just catch that PB that will make the trials and tribulations of carp fishing in winter all worthwhile.

Tight Lines!

All of the fishing tackle featured in this article can be found at one of the following online shops...

Total fishing tackle

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