Dynamite Baits

2 January, 2024 | Carp | Angler Blogs | Articles

0 Comments

Adam Whittington: Winter Carp Fishing Successes

Adam is back with another brilliant memoir and this time he reveals his recent and past winter carp fishing successes…

Adam says…

Mid-Winter Madness

It’s that time of year again where we chip away at hard butter, every cup of tea steams up the bivvy and reading glasses – it comes to us all – are a foggy menace in the sauna-like environment. The paths around my lake are bad enough year round, but by December they resemble First World War trenches and each barrow push is a lung-busting challenge.

Winter essentially means more effort, tougher conditions, and bites are a rarity on all but the most heavily stocked of venues. As with most things in life, there are some positives to provide balance and the most significant is that a winter carp just seems to mean more. They’re the best of prizes and every one should be seen as an achievement.

When scrolling Instagram, the winter seems to be an endless barrage of throw-back photos of t-shirt clad anglers with warm weather lumps, or frosty scenic shots of immobile rods. Every now and again though, in amongst the knobs drawn on icy bivvies, there will be a picture of a true winter fish and those anglers always have my respect. It doesn’t happen by accident and behind every shot there will have been real determination. Hats off to those of you still at it.

I struggled last winter, hopping from swim to swim, chasing rumours of shows, and never really settling on a plan. I didn’t manage a single bite through November and December and finally got my reward on the night of January 13th, when a big, low-pressure westerly had pushed the temperature to a balmy nine degrees and the rod finally rattled off.

I’d been lucky enough to have had a great season, with a hatful of forties coming my way, but the 37lb common that eventually rolled into my net that night was my favourite capture of the season. Like I said earlier, they just mean that bit more.

January 13th last year. A favourite capture…

I’ve made a few changes this winter and, so far, this has been more productive for me. The first change was a mental tweak, slightly adjusting my mindset by planning only to fish until mid-January rather than flogging at it, two nights a week, right through until Spring.

February and March did hardly any bites at the lake and the rare chances that occurred were invariably to a nasty zig. This has really helped me focus hard on the time I have given myself and I’ve felt that bit more motivated for the job in hand – setting up after work and after dark is graft.

I’ve been putting more thought into location as well and have been drawn to an area that was unfished for most of the year as the numerous lily beds seem to have exploded in number, which provided an unreachable sanctuary area that the carp knew to be a safe zone.

Those lilies have now sunk to the bottom, creating an unseen jungle laying close to the lake bed. In amongst all the collapsed lilies, there are patches of silt, one of which is much firmer, with a lovely glass-like feel when the lead is pulled back.

This is my chosen spot, made even more attractive as it’s generally left alone due to rampant lilies, and also being the longest walk from the car park.

Fishing to a sunken jungle….

Late November saw me in my chosen swim with two rods tight together on the bivvy-sized spot amongst the lilies and a third rod nearer in on the back end of a lovely gravel seam.

My winter baiting approach is based around maximum attraction with minimum food, so a typical mix would be two kilos of finely crumbed CompleX-T, a bag of Sweet Fishmeal groundbait and lots of liquid.

The liquid mix incorporates Evo Hemp oil, Shrimp Extract, condensed milk and Fish Gutz. You wouldn’t wear the stuff as aftershave but it’s bloody good in the mix, with the hemp oil continuing to work well in even the lowest temperatures.

The final piece of the puzzle is red maggots, and I add four pints to the mix to see me through my usual 48-hour session. My top tip for crumbing the boilies would be to add the liquids after you’ve got busy with the crusher – I learnt to my cost that pre-soaked boilies become a cloggy mess very quickly.

Final piece of the puzzle…

It was a very sociable 8am bite on the closer in rod that had me scrambling after a quiet night and the fish felt heavy from the first moment, plodding from one subsurface lily bed to another, shuddering to a halt every now and again, whilst sending up swathes of bubbles from the dead vegetation.

With sustained pressure, the fish kicked free out of each obstacle and eventually settled on doing lazy circles deep under the rod tip. Mentally, I was already preparing myself for where would be best to take the photos when the fish kicked hard away from me, rising up in the water enough for me to see the width across the shoulders, and then the hook pulled.

It never gets any easier, that crushing blow felt with a loss. In true British style, putting the kettle on seemed the only option in such a crisis and it hadn’t even boiled when the tip of a rod to the silt spot bent down and held there.

Within ten minutes, I found myself playing a second winter carp. This one repeated the process of finding the vegetation, sitting there for a minute before moving to the next pit stop amongst all the foliage. The battle ended in my favour this time and I gazed upon a delightful 32-pounder with bronze flanks and a lovely red belly.

Bronze flanks and a red belly…..

The next week saw me arriving at the lake straight from work and engaging in the undignified dance that results from changing out of a business suit into fishing gear in a puddle strewn car park.

I gazed with jealousy at the pristine row of Transporters and Transits whilst unloading my elderly estate car, noting that the lake seemed unusually busy for a Monday. It turned out that some of the vans belonged to the production team and drone operators filming something with superstars Dove and Spooner.

The good news was this meant there weren’t so many anglers present, the bad news was the Korda boys were camped out in my swim – it’s an outrage and I shall send a strongly worded letter to parliament!

Plan B followed and I set up at the other end of the lake, scared Dovey and Spoons would be running around after me begging for selfies. Normal winter service resumed and I packed up some 48-hours later with not a single clue coming my way.

Great news came my way during that week when I heard that my old mate Jay had caught the Big Plated, one of Frimley’s most sought-after mirrors, at a fabulous weight of 51lb 10oz! There’s all the inspiration an angler could ever need in December.

The following week saw me once again tearing towards the lake, throwing women, children and other motorists behind me. With only a few days away until the shortest day, daylight is a precious commodity and whilst the spot is an easy ten wraps away, it really helps the confidence to see the baits drop next to each other, hence the race against time only an after-work angler can really appreciate.

Two rods landed just four feet apart on the silt spot, with another fished to the gravel seam again.

Job done, just before darkness settled over the lake and I was left pondering if 5pm was too early to go to bed! Match of the Day on the phone, dinner out of the way and I reflected that this bivvy life wasn’t too bad.

There’s something great about being warm and dry by a lake whilst the saner side of humanity all hid away indoors.

The sane people are indoors…

I was up at dawn after a decent sleep and untouched rods.

These carp seem to be keeping very civilised hours at the moment though, and it was at half seven, first brew on the go, when the line picked up from the silt spot. These pressured winter fish rarely seem to tear off, so all beeps are worth investigating.

One more beep and I lifted into a solid-feeling fish that managed to avoid the decaying lilies and just plodded about in unspectacular fashion. No complaints from me after scooping up the well-behaved beast, which weighed it at a respectable 39lb 12oz.

Nobody was fishing anywhere near me, so self-takes were sorted with minimal fuss and the rig sent back out, followed by another kilo or so of the crumb/maggot combination. The seamless plan slipped on one of life’s turds during the final flight of a maggot-filled Spomb when hitting the clip caused the braid to part inexplicably.

I watched with dismay as the Spomb sank out of sight, still attached to a few yards of braid and rested right on the spot. My thought process was that it’s unlikely the Spomb was directly on a hookbait, so leave it and keep everything crossed it won’t be an issue should I get a bite.

39lb 12oz self-takes…

Another peaceful night followed and when half seven came around, I was twitchy, feeling that carp generally follow patterns in the winter and it seemed that morning bites were the way just now.

A single beep had my full attention five minutes later – mid winter liners mean something and five further minutes brought what appeared to be a stuttery take on both rods that were tight on the spot.

‘Bloody Spomb’, I thought and picked one rod up, quickly reeling in an untouched bait. Picking up the second rod brought a much better result, with an angry carp giving the usual performance of casting up blankets of bubbles as it thrashed about in the pads and stems some eight feet down.

The battle went my way and a glorious common in full December colours rolled into the net. The scales informed me it weighed 38lb 6oz and made up a brace of true winter fish that’ll keep me smiling into the New Year.

Full December colours…

All the very best to you and yours in 2024!

-Adam

Share this post..