Right now the biggest com­mer­cial carp are se­ri­ously on the feed. Here’s how I tar­get these lumps


IT might sur­prise you to learn that the com­ing months are among my favourites for carp fish­ing.

Bites can be fewer than in sum­mer, but if you choose your venue care­fully, short day ses­sions can bring heart-warm­ing ac­tion, and the fish tend to be of a much bet­ter av­er­age size too.

How­ever, I would never set out to fish a windswept gravel pit for carp in the win­ter months – life is too short! In­stead I switch to com­mer­cial fish­eries, many of which con­tain fish top­ping 20lb and even 30lb these days. The big­ger fish tend to show up more in the cold – I can only guess that they need to eat more.

Per­haps their senses are a lit­tle less di­alled in when it is cold? What­ever the rea­son, catch­ing the big­ger fish be­comes less of a nee­dle in a haystack right now and if you fol­low my top tips a new per­sonal best could well be on the cards this week.


Bright baits have a strong track record when the tem­per­a­ture is low. The senses of warm-wa­ter species, such as carp, are dulled in the cold – they can lose up to 30 per cent of their sight at this time of year, so it makes sense to use a bait that stands out.

White and pink are the most used colours, but don’t ig­nore bright yel­low, a colour that has fallen from favour some­what in re­cent years.

Many com­pa­nies pro­duce bright hook­bait ver­sions of their most pop­u­lar baits. If a par­tic­u­lar bait is catch­ing well on your venue then try us­ing one of these spe­cials. Of­ten the carp will home in on them faster than the darker al­ter­na­tives.


Don’t be tempted to feed too many bright baits, as they stand out like a sore thumb on the bot­tom, es­pe­cially if the wa­ter is re­ally clear. It’s much bet­ter to fish with just a very at­trac­tive sin­gle hook­abit, than to fill it in.

Re­mem­ber, carp in most lakes have seen enough boilies to know that they are food, so there is no need for heavy bait­ing.

If I feel the need to in­tro­duce some feed I will be very spar­ing – just a hand­ful of bait is all I will use over a day, ping­ing out a cou­ple of baits af­ter each bite.

Re­duc­ing the size of the free of­fer­ings is an­other use­ful ploy. Small 10mm boilies make a great feed, and a larger 15mm hook­bait stands out among them.


Any­thing that makes it eas­ier for a carp to pick up the hook­bait has got to be an ad­van­tage when they are not feed­ing strongly.

Pop-ups are a good choice, es­pe­cially if there are a lot of leaves on the bot­tom. The buoy­ant bait will keep the hook clear of any de­tri­tus, and it only needs to be an­chored an inch off bot­tom to make a dif­fer­ence.

Crit­i­cally-bal­anced slow-sink­ing hook­baits are my first choice in most swims as they present the bait more nat­u­rally than a pop-up. A 15mm bot­tom bait and a 10mm pop-up combo works great, cre­at­ing a slow-sink­ing ‘snow­man’ pre­sen­ta­tion.

Al­ter­na­tively, care­fully core out your boilie and in­sert a small piece of buoy­ant foam to cre­ate a bait that is in­dis­tin­guish­able from a nor­mal boilie.


A hand­ful of both pop-ups and bot­tom baits can be stored in boilie dip in­def­i­nitely. The longer they are im­mersed, the bet­ter the liq­uid will pen­e­trate the skin of the bait and be ab­sorbed, giv­ing a long-last­ing leak-off of flavour.

Al­ter­na­tively, try wrap­ping a small amount of paste around your hook­bait. This will slowly break down, re­leas­ing loads of at­trac­tion into the wa­ter.

I rarely fish with­out boost­ing the hook­bait in this way, what­ever the time of year.

My tests have shown that this sim­ple tip can dou­ble the num­ber of bites I re­ceive.

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