Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Winter Carp - A Good Start to the End of the Year!

The windscreen was inevitably covered in a thick frost due to the temperature dropping to -3 during the night and my finger tips began to tingle as I scraped away at the ice.  Back inside the van with heaters on full blast I shook my head and rolled my eyes as if to confirm I had finally lost the plot, surely I would of been better equipped with the pike gear  instead of my carp gear loaded on board!

I had decided on a winter carp campaign back in the autumn and had been trickling bait in over the past few months on a little and often basis in the hope that the bait would keep the carp feeding in certain areas of the lake.

The ground was hard under foot as I made way across the sloping field, crunching with every step.  As I approached the lake it was clear that at least half was covered in ice, limiting my swim choice immediately however one area of the lake I had been baiting was ice free so this would be by first line of attack.  It is a snaggy area with over hanging foliage, underwater branches and a good depth, perfect sanctuary for winter carp.  Such areas provide the carp with a feeling of safety especially at this time of year when the clarity of water is greater.

The second rod was positioned in the only other possible area not affected by the ice, in open water, rigs were as described in my previous posts and just 4 boilies were placed around the hookbaits.  In these conditions I am normally fishing for one bite at a time, in the colder weather the carp does not digest its food as quickly as it does in the warmer months, so just a very small amount of bait allows the carp to feed but not over feed and ruin my chances of catching.  

The rod cast towards the snags had only been in the water 10 minutes before the bobbin shot off the ground and the alarm let out a short scream, I struck and played my first fish of the day before the hook pulled after about 30 seconds.  It felt a reasonable fish and I was gutted to say the least, you dont normally get many chances in these conditions however it was a confidence boost and hopefully a good sign that the fish were willing to feed.

When carp fishing whatever season it is, it pays to be vigilant, watching both the water and your rods, dont always rely on the bite alarm to inform you a carp has taken the bait.  

The alarm had not come into play by the time I struck into my next fish.  I noticed a knock on the rod tip followed by the line twitching and slowly pulling to the left, instinct told me to lift into it and soon I had my first winter carp of the season on the bank, a spirited common around 5lb.  Not big, however a bend in the rod in freezing conditions.

The next fish fell to the same rod within half an hour, about the same stamp as the first.  When the temperatures drop severely, carp and other fish tend to be more dormant, move around a lot less and in some cases attract leeches or parasites which im sure weve all seen from time to time.  Some anglers prefer to remove them, in doing so can leave a small open wound which is vulnerable to infection.  I tend to leave the leeches alone, it is a course of nature and the carp will knock them off when they become more active.

By lunchtime I had 2 fish under my belt, with the sun shining brightly casting long shadows across the field the ice faded away from the main area of the lake giving way to a mirrored surface.  I felt that the second rod was fishing in "no mans land" and could now reposition it into an area at the bottom of a shelf on the edge of the shallow water and the remaining ice.

I topped up both swims with half a dozen boilies and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.  The frost clung to any area that the sun did not reach and the maximum temperature all day was only 3 degrees.  I believe my chances on this very cold day were helped with 2 key factors.  

Firstly although the temperature got down to -3 that night, it was not a sudden change in temperature.  It had been cold both day and night for the preceding 3 or 4 days prior to me fishing, giving the carp time to adjust to the freezing temperatures. If it had suddenly became cold overnight my chances would of been greatly reduced as the shock would of briefly interupted the carps feeding patterns.  Secondly my prebaiting had probably kept the carp feeding over the last couple of months in certain areas of the lake, which kept the carp visiting these areas in search of food.  I would encourage any angler to put a bit of time into prebaiting whether it be a lake or river, done sensibly, little and often can increase your catch rate over a prolonged period of time.

To demonstrate this, the second rod burst into life within an hour of being on the the prebaited area the biggest carp of the day made its way towards the far bank hoping to reach the sanctuary of the overhanging trees.  It was a strong powerful fish that fought well, with a few heart stopping moments as the line came into contact with the surface ice I was sure it would cut through it.  As I heaved the fish up the bank it was clearly a double and the scales went to 11lb 4oz.

I managed another around the 5lb mark resulting in 4 carp and lost 1.  A good result in freezing temperatures and a lake half covered in ice!  As I wrote in my previous posts I choose my winter venues carefully, I prefer to catch fish rather than sitting for weeks on end biteless, that is not how I want to spend my winter.  These fish are not huge however this venue is still bit of an unknown quantity as far as the stock is concerned so it could throw up a nice surprise.  

Ill keep adding the bait little and often which will hopefully see me land a few more winter carp.