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5 Carp Fishing Tips For Winter (Carp Fishing in Cold Weather)

winter carp fishing tips and techniques

Fishing For Carp When It’s Cold Outside

Have you ever gotten bored while targeting lazy winter bass? Have you seen those ugly behemoths swimming around under the surface? Those are carp, and they can satisfy your winter fishing needs when the bass simply aren’t biting.

Carp aren’t as lazy as other game fish in the winter. They have no problem putting up a hard fight when the water is well below freezing. However, you have to know how to target them.

In this short article, I’ll give you all the tips you need to bring in tons of carp when everything else stops biting.

Winter Carp Fishing Tips

1. Fish Late

If you’re used to fishing in the summer, you’re likely used to waking up early to get a few good fights in. You do not want to do that when you’re targeting carp in the winter. They’re lazy in the morning hours.

Instead, you want to go after them during the late afternoon and early evening hours. They’re one of the few fish species that will become more active when the sun starts to fade during the winter.

I recommend making your first cast around three or four in the afternoon. That’s when I’ve had the most success with winter carp. If they’re biting really slowly, you might want to keep trying until slightly after dark. They tend to start acting as if they just chugged coffee right when the sun goes down. They want to get one last meal in before they settle in for a very cold night.

2. Don’t Go Too Deep

Carp usually feed all over the water column, but they tend to stay near the surface during the winter. That’s unusual compared to bass, bluegill, and other freshwater fish.

If you want to catch a lot of carp during the winter months, you’ll want to use floating rigs and good bait. Don’t try to sink your bait to the bottom. You might catch a random catfish, but the carp won’t bother to go after it.

3. Do Not Sit Around

I get it. You’re cold, your fingers are numb, and you can’t even imagine standing because your butt is literally sticking to your fishing chair. You probably want to keep your bait in the water until you go home. Do not do that.

It may be more difficult to move around when it’s so cold outside, but it’s imperative that you do if you want to catch anything. You shouldn’t have your bait in the water for more than half an hour. If nothing has bitten within half an hour, the carp in that area aren’t hungry.

Just reel your bait in and recast. You’ll get the attention of any carp that are near your bait’s landing point, and your chances of catching something will rise dramatically.

4. Use Additives

Anything that increases the smell and flavor of your bait is a good thing to use. If you’re using peanut butter balls, push corn into them, or dip them in commercial bait dips. You can even use a combination of the two.

Carp may be active during the winter, but they’re still less active than they are in the summer. If you want to have the best chance of landing a massive carp, you want to use every bait enhancer at your disposal.

Foods that leak fluids are also great. Cherry tomatoes are harder to find in stores during the winter, but they work wonders because they quickly release tons of juice into the water, and that attracts carp.

5. Spot Them

If you’ve read my tips for other fish species, you’re probably thinking that I’m beating a dead horse with this one. You’re probably right, but it really is important to spot carp in the winter, and it’s really easy to do.

When most of the plant life dies and rots away, the water becomes exceptionally clear. It’s still hard to spot most fish species, but carp love to hangout on top of the water, and they love to breach the water’s surface like whales do. They’re incredibly easy to see in the water.

Also, they tend to be more social during the winter. It’s easier for them to survive if they huddle together. So, if you see one carp breach the surface, you’ll likely find a whole school of them throwing a party just beneath the surface.

You want to look for shiny scales reflecting light across the surface of the water. If a carp is breaching the surface, you just have to look for a miniature version of an ugly whale. They’re not hard to spot.

Once you spot a carp, try to cast right next to it. You won’t scare it off. You’ll get its attention, and it’ll be a lot more eager to bite.

Final Thoughts

Carp are some of the easiest fish to catch during the winter months if you follow these tips. They’re a lot more active than other game fish, and they still put up a great fight despite the cold water.

If you want to catch a lot of winter carp, you’ll want to try all of the tips I’ve listed, and you’ll want to stay focused on the carp during each of your trips.

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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