In the bleak mid winter
Julian Cundiff... Maximise your time One of the biggest problems I find with winter is simply the lack of time you have to catch a carp. Although they do feed in the hours of darkness on most waters I have fished the productive times have been from dawn to dusk. Now if the water is close to home that’s okay but if need to travel to the water ( as I have done travelling anything from 40-200 miles to target my winter venues) then you are going to need to motivate yourself to an early rise and a late return.
No matter which water I am on I always get there at least one hour prior to dawn to give me chance to be cast out before first light and I try to stay well into dark if the rules allow it. So when I fished Catch 22 I had to leave home at 3 am to get there for 6 am and even now at Messingham Sands, on off my local waters, the alarm goes at 4 am so I am cast out for 6 am. So my winter tip is maximise the time you have by fishing as long as possible no matter how much it hurts.
Neville Fickling ....Water Selection The biggest single problem I face in the winter is our up and down weather conditions. Here’s what happens. It rains for days all the drains and rivers are flooded. Then we get a load of frosts so shallow still waters are frozen over. I try and find somewhere big to fish that is not affected by floodwater. Some big gravel pits are suitable venues and most fish well in winter even when part frozen. The same applies to reservoirs. Then I live in hope and wait for the rivers to fine down. These days it usually rains again! This pike fishing would be so easy if it wasn’t for the weather.
Bob Roberts ... Roach Fishing
When it comes to those cold and frosty mornings, when the rivers are running low and clear, there's no better bait for quality roach than a bit of bread. I like to feed a small amount of liquidised bread and used punched flake on the hook. You might think that legered bread will outfish the float but you'll be wrong more often than not. The fish are not inclned to go looking for food in these conditions but a carefully presented bait beneath a light stick float will seek out the fish.
Look for one bite. You are not going to bag up so go easy on the feed and any disturbance. If you don't catch after ten minutes move to a new swim. Be patient, keep on the move and sooner or later you will find a few willing fish.
Martyn Skoyles ... Focus on the Feeding Times
Feeding times can often be a lot shorter over the winter and if you can work out patterns for when the fish are likely to feed it can make things easier. It can be trial and error at first but by recording your results and watching when others are catching it can become possible to just fish short sessions at the most productive bite times.
I remember one particular water I fished a couple of years ago the best time to catch carp in the winter was definitely during the afternoons. However in the mornings I would often see fry scattering and swirls from pike. To maximise my time I started to fish a couple of deadbaits for pike in the morning before changing the rigs and switching over to carp at lunchtime. The result was some great winter sessions, and a lot less time spent sitting behind motionless indicators.
Dave Gawthorn ... Keep it clean
With the water often being a lot clearer during the winter months I like to hide my end tackle as much as possible. However it’s amazing how much sediment will build up on your line and even the best fluorocarbon can suddenly become very visible to any fish in the swim. Cleaning line is simplicity itself, and every few casts I simply wind the line back onto the reel through a cloth. It only takes a few seconds, and you never know, it might just make the difference between getting a take and going home with a blank.
Brian Skoyles ....Be Impatient
I would imagine that many specialist anglers have a lot of patience, and in many situations this, as the saying goes, can be a virtue … but in winter I’m not so sure.
When the water is warm and the fish are active you can set your traps, and wait for the fish to swim into them, but with low water temperatures the fish slow down, need smaller quantities of food, and generally move about less.
So, winter can be the time to be a bit more active … basically be impatient!
When conditions are poor in winter I make every effort to find the fish, rather than wait for the fish to find me. If I’m carping, I do this by switching to high attract, high visibility hook-baits, which I re-cast regularly. If conditions allow I use very light bobbins and watch for any movement on either the bobbin and/or the line as it enters the water. If after half and hour or so, I’ve had no signs I recast to a slightly different area, and repeat the watching process. I use no free offerings with this tactic, I don’t want lots of spare bait in the swim.