Monday Top 5 - Winter Tips

Winter can be a brilliant time to be out on the bank. Not only can banks be quieter but they offer the opportunity to catch fish at their heaviest weight and in stunning dark winter colours. However winter fishing can also be tricky with cold water temperatures causing fish to feed less, combined with winter weather and long periods of darkness that can cause anglers to lose motivation and pack their kit in the garage until spring.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this magical time of year on the bank and above all keep you motivated and those bites coming in winter…

Fishing is 90% location, 10% anything else. This is even more so the case in winter. Fish tend to group up and hold in an area of the lake. Their movements are much less pronounced due to the reduction in water temperatures. This ‘holding area’ as winter progresses is often off the bottom of the lake in mid water so never discount fishing shallow or zigs until you locate the fish.

You can locate this holding area by watching the water constantly and moving in response to any signs of fish showing. The other very successful way of locating fish is to fish for liners. Cast into open water and fish a semi slack line. If you get liners in one area move your rods to this area until it results in a bite for you.

Don’t also deny the weather; for example if there’s a warm southwesterly wind the fish may get on the end of it, while if it’s a bright, crisp, sunny day the fish may head to very shallow water as this would be the first to warm up. Always keep an open mind and your head focused predominantly on location.

Species Hunt
I’ve had some of my very best winter days' fishing targeting multiple species in the same day. Rather then being sat behind motionless carp rods waiting for a feeding spell which can be in the hours of darkness, try targeting other species in the same day. Fish such as roach, perch, grayling and chub are often more happy to feed throughout the day regardless of the temperature. These can offer an action packed day with a refreshingly different variety of methods used and waters fished.

Another great change up in the species stakes to produce bites and keep you enjoying the winter is to target predators such as pike, perch and zander. These cold water killers are actively hunting prey fish and, via deadbait, live bait or lure you can have a fantastic day full of bites.

Running Water
We can’t always choose when we go fishing. As the winter takes hold and lakes often freeze or simply stop producing any bites, always have running water and your local river in your plans. Rivers have produced incredible days sport for me, fishing for a huge variety of species when my local lake has been frozen solid. Use bread to target chub or simply trot maggots for all manner of different river species rather than having to give fishing a miss due to the lake having a lid on it.

Equipment & Clothing
There’s no compromise in having quality clothing and equipment in winter. A good pair of insulating waterproof shoes are a must along with some socks for example merino wool or seal skin socks. If your feet are cold you will not enjoy your day and are more likely to go home early.

In terms of clothing, layer up. Build up layers of clothing to trap warm air and keep you warm throughout the day. If you are moving or walking a long way and get warm then you can remove layers, as getting too hot will cause you to feel awfully cold later when you cool down.

In terms of longer sessions the use of a groundsheet, as “uncarpy” as you think it may be, is an essential to help reduce condensation and help add comfort to your time on the bank. Another helpful addition is a bivvy overwrap to help insulate you further on those cold nights.
Finally, let's face it, a hot drink or two or three, along with warm food are a must to keep you upbeat in the winter.

Be Natural
The use of natural baits such as maggots, worms and casters are brilliant for getting you a bite on the bleakest of winter days. A solid PVA bag of maggots or a single maggot on a waggler or pole float have saved me a blank on many tough winter days. Whenever you go fishing, never leave home without some naturals, especially in the winter.

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