Top 5 winter tips for commercial fisheries

Winter is a tricky time for any type of fishing but particularly so on commercial fisheries where by the carp seem to almost shut down once the water temperature drops. With that in mind below are my top 5 tips to hopefully get you a few extra bites this winter.

1. Less is more, when it comes to feeding

The age old adage of you can take it out but you can’t put it back in has never been truer. For that reason I always like to start off with a softly, softly approach as opposed to catapulting or potting bait all over the swim. A little trick that I often use at this time of the year when pole fishing is to have two swims, say at angles of 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. I can then feed one swim very negatively, i.e. just five or six grains of corn and a few pellets, whereas the other can be fed in a more positive manner. This way you can quickly work out whether the fish want any amount of bait or not. The same trick also works on the tip in that even when bomb fishing I like to feed somewhere in the swim either by catapult or by putting a few feeders in at the start. Then I can cast around with a bomb looking for fish, whilst dropping on the baited area every hour or so to see if any fish have arrived. What normally happens is that I’ll catch a few by casting around then in the last hour the baited spot will produce a few bites, just as the light fades.

2. Bring out the bread

If I had to pick one bait to get me a bite on even the coldest of days then it would be bread. Fished either up in the water on the pole on a snake type lake or alternatively popped up off the bottom on the straight lead in open water. Starting with the snake lake a piece of 8mm punched bread dobbed up and down the far bank is deadly once the temperature drops and the water goes clear. Normally the piece of punch is fished anywhere from half depth right down to just a couple of inches off depending at what level the fish are feeding at. The idea is to just work your float up and down the far bank with a piece of punch until you find the fish. A simple but very effective tactic. On the tip three pieces of 8mm punched bread popped up off the bottom has saved my blank more times than I care to remember. Normally I like to start off popping the bread up about 18 inches and then vary the length of my hooklength until I find the fish. I think there are two reasons bread is so successful in winter, firstly it’s white and stands out in clear water so the carp can really home in on it. Secondly being soft a carp can literally just slurp it in, in other words it doesn’t require any effort to eat it.

3. Identify the safe zone in your swim

Another great tip for winter, particularly on snake lakes or venues containing F1 carp is before you start fishing identify what I like to call a safe zone within your peg. What I mean by this is mark a likely looking area in your swim either to the left and right and leave it well alone for at least 3 hours of a 5 hour match. What will happen is because you don’t fish this area and there is no disturbance the F1’s and even carp will back off into this safe zone because they feel safe. In fact the longer you can leave the area alone the more fish are likely to move in. Then when you do go on it you will be able to have a brilliant last hour whilst those around you are all struggling. This is a trick I use a lot and it rarely fails to work, its vital though that you don’t feed the area or get tempted to go there too quickly as if you do you will simply push the fish out of your swim before they get the chance to settle.

4. Keep disturbance to a minimum

 Once the water goes clear then the carp in particular will become extra spooky. For that reason the less commotion you can make at your swim the better. Plumbing up on the pole should be done as quietly as possible. And when fishing the bomb unless I have to I will never cast out before the match. The reason being casting a bomb out repeatedly to get the right distance before the match starts only serves to push any fish that were in your swim out again. Better to let everyone else around you cast out whilst you sit there with a wry smile on your face knowing that they are going to push any fish in the area into your swim where there has been no disturbance. Then once the match does start make every cast count and don’t be too keen to cast again. I always try and work out how many bites I’m going to need to win and then time my casts accordingly. For instance if I’m only looking for ten bites then two casts an hour in theory is all I need. In this case though I would look to cast every twenty minutes depending on bites. Also if you are fishing the straight lead and getting no signs, don’t keep casting to the same spot. Try casting about as when its cold carp tend not to move around much so it’s up to you to go to them as opposed to waiting for them to come to you.

5. Always take some sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is another great bait in winter, in fact I would go as far as to say its better in winter than in summer. The reason I feel corn is so effective in the cold is purely down to colour. Being bright yellow it stands out fantastically well in the clear water and is extremely visible, thereby acting very much as a target bait that carp can really home in on. In my experience when it comes to feeding corn in the colder months then it’s definitely a case of less being more and often I will kick a swim off with just five or six grains and feel my way in from there. On the subject of feeding, casters are a great bait to feed in conjunction with corn. The reason being casters attract smaller species such as roach and perch and whilst it maybe carp that you are targeting I’m a big believer in feeding fish stimulating other fish namely carp into feeding. So by getting smaller silver fish feeding the carp will be drawn into the swim in order to see what’s going on. Lastly when fishing corn on the hook most anglers fish a single grain, whilst this will catch fish if you are struggling try two grains as more often than not this will produce a bite if there is a carp present. The only reason I can think that two grains of corn are better than one is that it’s a bigger more visible bait which grabs the attention of a feeding carp far quicker. Try it for yourself as it certainly works for me.