A Basic Guide to Day Ticket Waters in Winter
As summer turns to winter, most day ticket fisheries find far fewer anglers flocking to their waters. This is a result of both the weather and the theory that carp do not feed in the winter or the cold. However, this is not to be believed. Admittedly, carp do not feed as much during winter compared to the other seasons, as the drop in water temperature leads to a decrease in activity. Though on the other hand, this makes catching them all the more rewarding!
Selecting a venue
The first thing to consider when planning day ticket fishing in the winter, is without a doubt the venue or lake choice. Look for a well-stocked lake, most day ticket fisheries will have at least one. The more fish that are present, the higher the chance of getting a bite or two on these short cold days and long dark nights.
Next, consider the depth of the water. Carp like the warmth of the sun at all times of year and this is especially true in winter. Many anglers believe that during the winter the carp can only be found in the depths, but this is not always the case. Carp can be found at all levels during the winter.
A shallower lake gives you a much better chance of presenting your hookbait close to the fish. For example, if you are fishing on the bottom in 30 feet of water, the carp could be in the upper water layers, meaning your hookbait could be 15 to 20 feet away from the fish. By fishing in shallower waters, you increase the likelihood of having your hookbait close to the carp.
Lastly, do some research on how the specific lake you are looking to fish performs during the winter. Is the lake known to produce captures in winter? Which spots give the best results once the temperature has dropped?
By taking these factors into consideration when choosing a venue and lake, you know what to expect when you arrive. Don’t forget to ask the bailiff on site for advice and information, these guys know the venue inside and out.
Day ticket fisheries see an array of hookbaits, baits and loose feed throughout the year. Tailoring your bait to winter is crucial.
Baits that are easy for the carp to digest, offer good visual attraction or preferably both, make for great choices during winter. This is due to the fact that carp are cold blooded, meaning that they rely on the water temperature to regulate their body temperature. A carp’s digestive system needs to be at a certain temperature to function efficiently. Therefore, in winter when the water temperature is cold, the carp’s digestive system won’t work as well. Using a bait that is easy for them to digest can lead to them feeding that bit harder for a longer period, allowing you to get that all important bite.
Some of the most popular bait choices in winter include:
Maggots can be a deadly bait as a hookbait or as loose feed, particularly during winter. Maggots are very easy for the carp to digest and their movement in the water attracts carp to them.
A bait that is likely to be used year round at day ticket fisheries and one that continues to produce fish throughout the winter is sweetcorn. Sweetcorn again is great in winter due to being easy for the carp to digest, as well as this it is also bright yellow, which provides a significant visual element to your hookbait or loose feed.
During winter, the distance that the carp can see through the water is diminished, this is why a hookbait that is highly visual is so crucial. The most popular colours are yellow, white, pink and orange. These are also known as bright hookbaits and are often fished as a single, meaning they are cast out with no loose feed around them.
By using a bright hookbait that is also extremely attractive taste wise, you make it much easier for the carp to find, compared to a dull hookbait colour such as brown. In my experience I have found that bright pop ups used as single hookbaits perform very well on day ticket venues in winter. Having the bait popped up off the bottom means your hookbait isn’t sat in debris, again making it that bit easier for the carp to find and suck in.
You need to take into account the quantity of bait that you will use in winter too. The carp will be feeding less, so a hookbait and a small amount of loose feed that is packed full of attraction will always be more effective than piling bait in.
With that said, consider the stock level of the day ticket fishery you are on. Some very highly stocked venues and lakes, may require more bait than you think, but don’t forget that you can’t take it out once it’s been put in. Whatever quantity you decide to use, bait up in small amounts and top up after each bite.
Rigs are a highly talked about subject when it comes to carp fishing and this is no different when fishing in winter. As mentioned previously, I get the most from my winter day ticket trips by fishing a pop up rig with a bright pop up hookbait.
There are hundreds of pop up rigs you can use to great effect, finding at least one that you have confidence in is a great start. Despite this, the lead arrangement can make all the difference in the winter. At some point it is likely you will cast into an area where you believe the fish to be, but won’t know for sure what the lakebed consists of. In this scenario, when using a pop up presentation I always go for a helicopter lead set up.
A helicopter set up offers you the best chance to be presented over any type of lakebed you encounter. For example, if the bottom is soft or littered with debris, the lead is able to plummet into it, leaving the hook link free to rest over any obstacles due to its ability to move up the mainline or leader. This movement is determined by where you have set the top bead or the distance between the top bead and the lead.
A helicopter lead set up
Another rig that shouldn’t be ignored in winter and that should definitely have a place in your armoury is the zig rig. The zig rig enables you to present your hookbait anywhere in the water column. Carp are known to snatch at zig hookbaits as they are highly intrigued by them, pair this with a bright pop up and you have a deadly combination for winter carp. Not only this, but by adjusting the length of your zig rig you are able to search the water column at different depths, giving you an extra edge if the fish are off the bottom in a well-stocked day ticket lake.
The right gear
Winter is cold, we all know that. But being cold whilst fishing is not pleasant nor productive. If you are uncomfortable on the bank, regardless of the time of year, you will not be fishing effectively and this will impact your results. In winter this becomes very relevant, the carp are usually shoaled up so being comfortable in the bitter cold is vital in order to spot those signs of where the carp are hiding.
Layering up and dressing appropriately for the conditions in winter is a must. Being able to spot signs of carp on a day ticket venue will more often than not give you the upper hand against your fellow winter anglers. Check the weather forecast for when you are planning on being on the bank, and don’t forget food, water and of course a stove and kettle! Having access to warm food or a hot drink might just keep you on the bank that little bit longer, allowing you to get that take you have been waiting for.
Day ticket fishing in winter really can be enjoyable and very rewarding. Try to swing the odds in your favour by picking a venue that enables you to keep bites coming, choose a hookbait and loose feed that are easy for the carp to find and to digest. Use rigs and a lead arrangement that offer you the best chance of presenting your hookbait to the carp and of course ensure you are comfortable on the bank. Enjoy!