Jimmy Greaves famously said “Football is a funny old game” and those words could so well have been pointed towards carp angling. Winter carping in particular can be a prime example for throwing up unpredictable outcomes during those long dark winter months.
I love my winter angling, always have. I have tried to analyse this on many an occasion when I am sat there with painfully cold toes and fingers that don’t want to set about packing the frosty gear away. Over the years I have justified my winter angling by telling people I love the fact that it is just me against the fish a lot of the time rather than me trying to slot into a decent area amongst lots of other anglers as can be the case during the summer months.
To be honest my love of the winter is much more deep rooted than that though. I love the rawness of it all. I love being out when nature is trying to persuade us to stay indoors. I love the sun rises and the sunsets which so often give a much more powerful image than many of those in the summer. But above all I have the memory and the knowledge that most of my P.B. carp right from the early 80’s have slipped into the net during the winter. Even my biggest fish from overseas have been winter captures. My personal best U.K. French, Slovenian and U.S.A. fish have been winter fish.
Carp feed in the winter, carp have to feed in the winter. If they don’t feed they die, quite simple really. But although they feed, they can be a little particular and surprisingly stubborn some days and often you need to keep ringing the changes to tempt that chance.
With well over 30 years of winter carp catching experience behind me you would have thought I would have certain methods and baits that will work everywhere. Well, I have but I will be the first to admit that no two days are the same and often I have to keep tweaking things with hook bait colour, bottom baits, pop-ups, snow men, trimmed baits, big baits, little baits, it goes on and on but for some reason the carp constantly change in what they want.
Or do they?
I have been thinking about this quite deeply these past few weeks. I have been fortunate to have been catching the fish during a period that I haven’t seen another fish caught, yet the last few have all been on totally different coloured hook baits. Same rig, same flavour, but a different colour and interestingly the last 2 have come from re-casts to exactly the same spot as I had been fishing but with a different coloured hook bait. The simple change in colour has triggered the response.
I have been baiting lightly, just 2 or 3 casts with a Mini Spomb on the actual fishing rod and then the hook link clipped back on and a rig following over the top. My Spomb mix is made from scalded Naked Hemp (hemp without the shell) left to cool back down in the water and then I add various Magnum White/Magnum Duo products…Broken and crushed boilie, Maximum Action Pellets and Micro Feed, then leave everything 24 hours to soak the hemp juice up. White is a superb base colour to fish over. It is a colour that triggers a natural feeding response. Carp eat a lot of bird muck from both ends. Hopefully I need to say no more.
So, although I have the background feed there giving a very clear visual which the carp are obviously homing in on I find I get a pick up much quicker by fishing a different coloured bait over the top of it. Almost the daisy in a field of grass if I were to fish for cows but often that daisy has to be replaced by a buttercup to get a quicker take.
I think what is happening in this situation where the approach that was good enough last trip isn’t working this trip, isn’t so much to do with the method not being right, but more to do with different fish being present. Different things trigger different fish. This is so noticeable when you look at repeat captures of a particular fish on one bait yet another bait will constantly repeat capture a different one.
If it isn’t working for you, keep juggling things around, keep ringing the changes for I have yet to go anywhere where one presentation and one bait will be the best for them all. Some fish like it nailed on the bottom, some like a big bait yet a shoal mate may prefer very small. Keep ringing the changes even when you are catching. You may be surprised just how much more the alarm may ring.