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Figuring out the best time to catch carp isn’t as straightforward as some anglers would like it to be.
Seasons play a major part in how fish feed. Carp, in particular, respond accordingly to the weather conditions and feed differently through each season.
Fishing for carp needs to be approached differently depending on what season you are fishing in. You will need to adjust your tactics through each of the seasons to increase your chances of catching carp.
Fishing For Carp in Spring
Things can get really exciting when fishing for carp in springtime. Many big carp tend to get picked up during springtime, sometimes lots of big carp.
During the winter, fish tend to rest up and stay dormant.
As the spring comes in and they start to wake up, they will start moving around slowly grubbing for food, so be sure to be on the lookout for fizzing and signs of feeding. Colored up water and crashing will become more regular when spring comes round.
Locating Carp in Spring
Using your best Watercraft skills are vital this time of the year.
Polarized glasses will make a huge difference when looking for carp due to the low sun casting strong reflections on the water.
You will not need a lot of bait straight away during spring as the fish will still be relatively dormant grubbing around for food, so you will need to find the fish before you commit your bait to a particular area. The fish won’t need a lot to tempt them towards delightful food when they are hungry after a long winter.
Single boilies, along with a small PVA stocking or bag will give off enough attraction to pick off the patrolling carp.
Once you find the carp, you can start feeding the swim to try and pick a few more fish off. But be sure to have a stock of bait for you if they switch on and start feeding heavily.
Fishing For Carp in Summer
The summer months, when the heat sets in, will draw the carp into the upper layers of the water.
As the fish will generally be sunbathing in the surface, using floating baits for surface fishing will likely produce a few bites.
Surface fishing can be really exciting too as you will be able to see them swimming around your bait and mouthing your hook bait.
Bait for Surface Fishing
Using plastic floating baits or dog biscuit as a hook bait is your best bet. Plastic baits will stay on your hook longer, but wouldn’t be as attractive as a dog biscuit.
Use dog biscuits and floating baits as free baits to get the fish feeding, and then offer them your hook bait by casting past the fish and drawing the hook bait past their mouths by reeling in slowly.
Bread molded around your hook bait can be an effective method of catching carp as they simply can’t resist it.
For an extra kick, try adding salmon oil or hemp oil to your floating baits – if you can get the fish fighting over the bait, that is the time to offer your hook bait to them.
Check the Pads and Rushes
You will also find the fish basking in the pads and rushes if there are any in the lake, so be sure to free line some bread into them to tempt them out and into your net.
It can be tricky getting the fish out of the pads and rushes when you have a controller float attached, so just having a hook on your line and swinging a bit of bread out will be the best way forward.
Zig Rigs to Catch Carp
Everybody knows that zig rigs can be really effective when the sun is out, so if you see carp in the top layers, it’s worth putting a zig rig on one of your rods and trying to find the carp in the upper layers.
If your ledger rig hasn’t been producing any bites throughout the session, try putting zig rigs on all of your rods, and try to locate the fish in the upper layers.
Put different types of hook baits on each of the rods and mix up the colors. Then use adjustable zig floats and lower them every hour until you start getting bite indications.
Whichever hook bait produces the bite indications, try changing the hook baits on the other rods to match and hopefully, it will produce more bites.
Then, when it goes quiet and the indications slow down, start again in the upper layers and lower the rigs after an hour to find the fish.
Carp will find the warmest part of the lake and tend to huddle around in groups, so if you can find the warmer waters, you will likely find the fish.
Fishing For Carp in Autumn
During the Autumn months, carp will go through a heavy feeding phase in preparation for winter, so be sure to take lots of boilies with you to the lake, or at least have them in your car on standby.
A typical weekend session during the autumn could cost you 5-10 kilos of boilies as the fish will be fighting over the bait.
You might also notice an increase in the average weight of fish you are catching as the larger fish start competing with the smaller fish.
Don’t skimp when it comes to boilie choice, make sure you use a good quality boilie from a reputable brand. Although, this goes without saying and should be the norm.
Heavily baited areas with boilies should be your preference, but don’t be afraid to add particles to the baited area too.
Keep in mind that you may need a couple of nets set up if the fish start feeding heavily as multiple hook-ups happen quite often.
Fishing For Carp in Winter
To me, winter is not the best time to catch carp as they tend to not feed very often, nor move around a lot, so location is really important during the winter months.
You need to be ready to move to another part of the lake at a moments notice.
Hunting around the lake, searching for even the smallest sign of a fish will be a major part of your session if you are going to catch when it’s cold.
You are wasting your time if you turn up at a lake and pitch up at the nearest swim to the car park. Unless you like blanking that is.
It’s likely you will find the fish in the shallow end of the lake during the day, where the water warms up the quickest.
Also, have a look in the lilies and weed beds to see if they are trying to keep warm in the sun.
When you do find them, feeding good quality boilies, little and often, should hopefully tempt them to start picking up a few of your baits.
It’s rare that you will need lots of boilies, so resist the need to put masses of bait into the water as it will likely be a waste.
During the winter, it is very easy to talk yourself out of staying at the lake for longer than a few hours if it is cold.
The longer you spend at the lake, the more chance of you catching fish. So make sure you have a few layers of clothes on and a couple of spare sweaters in case it gets colder.
Having warm food by cooking on the bank and drinking hot drinks will help to motivate you to hang around for longer.
It is a good idea to try roaming setups during the winter months, as this will allow you to cast to showing fish for the chance of a quicker bite. Rigs such as the chod rig and the helicopter rig are my first choice when the vegetation from the trees have fallen into the lake and started to decay.