Winter Carp Fishing

Best Carp Fishing Baits to use in the winter

Carp fishing is highly satisfying all year around, whether you enjoy a week on the bank, a “quick 24hr” or the achievement on catching your record PB.  Carp fishing is an extremely popular hobby for a lot of carp anglers but depending on when you want to indulge in the sport, it can be a lovely relaxing day or like setting off for Everest when the temperature drops.  During the warmer months, there is generally nothing to worry about but when it gets to winter, all your world famous fishing techniques go out the window and you could be left scratching your head.  Has this ever happened to you?  It is a learning curve for most fishermen out there so we have decided to lend a helping hand.  Here at Bait Hacks, we strive to offer you the best carp fishing bait on the market but how to use them is something else entirely.  So we have put together a simple guide on the best baits to use when carp fishing during winter months.  Even the most seasoned of you may learn a thing or two, or maybe even open your mind to new possibilities next time you go.

How to Find carp during the winter?

The first question you may ask yourself is where can I even find carp when the weather drops?  Carp are known for preferring the warmth but don’t let that put you off, even during the winter they can be easily found if you know where to look.  Carp during the winter still love the same things as they do in the summer, you just may find those places smaller than usual.  The three things to look for in a river is;

  • Somewhere receiving direct sunlight
  • Somewhere with natural food source (weeds and such)
  • Somewhere that can be classed as a hiding place for the fish.

So the best places to look is somewhere that will tick all three boxes, find it and there is a good chance you find your fish.

It is important to remember that carp follow a warm wind and this can factor into your experience, a southern wind will be no good up here in the UK and visa versa globally so something to remember before setting off.

So day you have the weather for it, the sunlight and the will to brave the outdoors, one more thing you need to keep in kind is how the carp will operate during the day.  The sun moves so there is a good chance the Carp will follow suit across all the hidey holes on the lake.  Carp prefer the warmer water so map out the trajectory of the sun during the day to see where the carp are likely to travel to as the hours pass by.  Keep to thick weed areas, tree lines and even shallower water if it is directly under the sun.  If you can keep a head of the warm water, you will have a much better time of things.

Winter Carp Fishing Tips

When it comes to fishing during the winter, there is some things you need to also keep in mind before setting off, that will make a significant difference when it comes to getting the most joy.

1.  if you get a nice sunny day, arrive early and set up in shallow water, that way you are already prepared for when the Carp move into the warmer water and you can have all your prep in place for when that happens.

2.  Be resourceful with your bait, do not put as much as you can on and expect to have success. This is because the carps metabolism is slower during the winter months so they will be less interested in having a feast.

3.  Following on from number 2, use a single hookbait rather than a variety to maximise their effectiveness.

4.  use smaller baits when possible, leave the bigger baits for the summer.  Anything up to 1cm (10mm) is ideal for single baits, so boilies and corn are some of the more ideal solutions (more on them below).

5.  If you use pop up boilies, keep them in the upper third of the water as that is the most common place the carp will be.

6.  Recast recast recast!  During the colder months, you have to go to the fish rather than expect the fish to go to you.  So if you aren’t getting as much luck, recast rather than wait.

So with all that being said, what are the best bait to use?  We have complied several different options and hopefully one of them will be the perfect choice next time you go.

winter carp caught

Best Winter Baits for Carp fishing

#1 – Boilies

Boilies are the most common choice for any fishing trip due to their versatility, sheer range and how easy they are to use.  A boilie can be any flavour you want it to be and they can be easily picked up anywhere you go, an extremely common fishing bait in any shop you visit.  So despite the cold weather, boilies can be still the perfect option if you can customise them to your surroundings.  So what boilies should you use?

Milkberry Boilies Close up macro shot

In the winter months, sweeter flavours of boilies are the best to go with and will offer the best possible catch chance.  This is because the carp are less likely to be openly feeding as they value safety over food.  So a sweeter bait will be much more enticing to them when in their natural environment.  Colour wise, you want to be as bright as possible in the absence of natural light.  So where the summer you would go for more earthy colours, in winter you want as bright as possible, so that includes pink, yellow, white, anything that will stand out in the water.  You can even combine them with pop up styles which can increase the lure of the bait itself when floating in the water.

When it comes to boilies, experimentation is key, even using a PVA bag, there is no sure fire guarantee.  Yet using your own judgement and knowledge combined with mapping out your lake, boilies can be a wonderful choice of bait.

We recommend the SCV bundle or the Milk Berry Bundle


#2- Maggots

If you decide you want to go old school when it comes to your bait, maggots can be another great choice during the winter months.  Providing both a food source for the crap and combined with the wriggling movement of them in the water, sometimes the simplest option can be the best.  Even the slowest moving carp will strike up an interest if they are hungry enough so they can be great for those long days on the water.  You can use fake maggots as well if you want to increase their visibility but then they lose the natural appeal so that is something to keep in mind.

maggots in a spomb

Maggots are also easy to keep during the  cold as they will not spoil like they would do in the warmer weather.  However keep in mind the general issues with using maggots if that is your bait.  Smaller carp can nibble away at them rather than full on bite so they are best used in places that you know you will land a bigger catch.

#3 – Earthworms

Earthworms, or also known as Lobworms and night-crawlers, are another great bait to use during the winter months, especially when it comes to carp fishing.  They are much bigger than maggots and they can provide a much more incentive style bait when areas that is devoid of food sources for the fish.  You can even rip the tail off for a very attractive bait that even the slowest and laziest carp will go for.  Their scent and movement is a brilliant natural bait and you will have a lot of joy if you decide to go down this route.

Lobworms do come with their own downsides that need to be taken into account, especially when you are unfamiliar with your lake.  Other fish will prey on such a tasty treat such as perch so it is not advised to use them where the bait can be poached.  They are much better used in shorter distances from the bank so you can actively keep an eye on what is happening.  Casting them long distances is not advised in case you do have an alternative fish interested.

You can even experiment with this one as well, add them to a hair rig or in a mesh style lure, to protect the bait but maintain its appeal.  So if you decide to go down this route bait wise, let your creative juices flow because the bait itself will be perfect either way.

#4 – Corn

Another very simple bait that can be quite effective during the winter months is corn, it offers all the appeal you need that an artificial bait will offer.  The huge benefits of corn can make it a wonderful choice, from price to preparation to maximise its efficiency.  You can cook fresh corn up and add your own sweetener to them to make them as enticing as possible, use our fishing flavourings , attractants or even molasses to offer a very sweet bait and let nature do the rest.  You can combine them with other baits such as boilies to really add a real draw for the fish.  You can colour the corn as well so a cheap and natural bait could be as effective as your fancy artificial version, which is why many fishermen still use it religiously.

The only downside to corn is that using it singular can mean it is a much smaller bite when compared to a larger boilie or a lobworm so you need to expect the full bite for them to really work for you.

#5- Hemp

Hemp may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to fishing bait, but this natural substance can offer you something truly unique that a worm or a boilie cannot.  For a start, hemp is full of natural oils and although used mainly in other seasons, it can be really useful in the winter too.

hemp winter fishing bait

Hemp can be used by itself as a bait or combined with a whole host of other baits to offer something appealing that can attract fish to its nutritional value alongside that sweet corn or boilie.  You can use hemp as part of a pre bait mixture, alongside other baits and simply as just an additional bait piece.  It may not be as enticing as something directly designed to attract the carp but it can bring its own wonderful additions that make it well worth experimenting with.

#6 – Groundbait

If you are in it for the long haul on the water, a bait that that be wonderful for those trips is a groundbait.  Although not directly a bait itself, it can be great to use when it is cold and natural sun is at a premium to warm the water up.  It does not directly feed the wish but create a environment around your bait to entice fish, especially carp to investigate the area.  It can be home made and packed full of different ingredients that really make your bait something to go to.  It slowly releases particles into the water that , if done right, will get any fish’s attention.  You can pack it with hemp, corn, or any range of sweet flavourings that, when combined with a Lobworm or a boilie, can really make a difference.

The only downside to groundbait is that if you get the ingredients wrong during the winter, it will be a complete waste and ineffective.  So make sure you use this guide to make a groundbait that will be extremely useful during the cold weather.

#7- Bread

in a last case scenario situation, bread when flavoured can be an effective bait if you plan on maximising your time on the lake to be as efficient as possible.  It requires prep work and the bread absolutely has to be sweetened but in a fix or simply when you are unprepared, bread can be a useful bait to use.

The downsides of bread are numerous as you would imagine.  First of all small fish will simply nibble away at it so it is best used for bigger fish only, or if you can replace often.  The lake life of bread is very much limited as well, whereas your boilie can sit in the water, bread will breakaway and become useless so that is something else to keep in mind.  You will need to use firmer bread baits to get as much time as possible out of it, but if combined with a groundbait for example, this could prove to be a cheap and easy alternative when you just aren’t prepared.

So now you are ready to set out on the lakes whilst the weather is dropping if you take some of our advice with you.  Remember, more work is required during the winter but the satisfaction of catching during more challenging times is even greater.  Hone your skills and by the time the summer comes back around, you will be ready to take your skills to the next level.

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