Winter fishing for carp

Winter fishing for carp

Carp Are Sport

If you are a fresh water fisherman, like catching big fish, want the best chance of catching a fish and don’t mind if the weather is cold then the humble  carp will  give you the best chance of putting a fish on the bank.

Carp are hated by many anglers because they are considered a nuisance fish, destroy fresh water environments and eat the eggs of our native fish species.

All of this is true!

…..but they are more plentiful than most other species, are not choosy about what they eat and grow very big. Not only that but every time you catch one you do the environment a favour by removing if from the system.

So why not target carp if you want to do a bit of fishing in winter when our native species are very quiet?

Where To Fish

If you don’t want to travel too far then the best way to find out where the carp are is to read fishing reports on the water ways nearest to you. There are plenty of reports available if you do a bit of online searching…

… so find out if carp have been caught in the water you want to fish.

Most big lakes and almost all rivers and creeks will have a population of carp in them. For instance, the Plenty River flowing through the North-East suburbs of Melbourne has plenty of carp. At some points the water is less than 20cm deep and I have seen carp splashing through these areas as they swim towards deeper water.

People catch big carp in this waterway so don’t rule out any places until you do a bit of research.

Fishing Gear For carp

 Once you know the fish are in your chosen water the next thing you’ll need is tackle strong enough to handle big fish.

Carp don’t fight nearly as hard in Winter as they do in the warmer weather but a big fish can still run hard, especially if you fish running water and they use the current to get away.

Unless you fish a big lake where longer rods help cast further out then all you’ll need is a 2 to 2.1 m rod and  3000 series reel.

Gear rated for 4 to 6 kg will give you all the power you need  to handle carp in winter. If you fish really snaggy water it would be best to increase line strength to 7kg monofilament line.

Monofilament is pretty abrasion resistant and cheap so it’s a good choice for most waters where you have trees, rocks and rubbish in the water that can snag or cut your line.

Terminal tackle  

The best hook size for carp can vary depending on who you talk to. My go to hook is a size 8 kirby (standard looking shape) hook.

 I have caught fish as small as 500gm and as big as 10kg on these hooks so the size 8 caters to most sizes of fish and is big enough to handle different size baits.

The best sinker to use will depend on the water you fish. If you fish more than 5 metres from the bank then a berley cage is the best way of providing weight and also getting berley next to your hook. If you fish close to the bank then you can use a standard lead sinker and just throw your berley in next to your bait.


In Winter the best baits for carp are maggots, corn and worms, in that order. For some reason the maggots work really well in the cold. Other baits like bread, dough….even slugs and snails have a chance of hooking a carp.

If there has been recent rain then worms are a good first choice as they naturally get washed into the water and the carp are always looking for them.

Locating Carp

Once you’ve got your gear and bait ready then actually finding fish is the next task.

No matter where you go always try to think like a carp.

Ask yourself, “if I was a carp and wanted somewhere that provided food, shelter and comfort, where would I live?”

Sounds dumb doesn’t it?

… but if you can answer this question you’ll find fish!

Find Food

The simple thing to do is to walk around and look for areas that will provide natural foods. This can be reedbeds, overhanging trees, inflowing water or weed beds. All these areas will contain insects, snails and aquatic animals.

Find Shelter

Once you’ve worked out the likely food holding areas look for any spots that have shade, depth or cover.

Fish like areas that provide protection from predators. They gravitate to areas that make them hard to see. Overhanging trees, big rocks, fallen trees and deep water offer this.

Carp Love Comfort

Lastly, look for areas that provide the comfort of slow flowing water or  warmer temperature.

In rivers look for the spots where the flow slows down so the fish don’t have to work hard to stay there.

In lakes, look for deeper water.  In Winter the water temperate in the shallows and the upper levels of the water column is cold. The deeper water has the higher temperatures and the carp will spend more time there.

The magic combination is a spot that provides food, shelter and comfort. Find that and your chances of hooking a fish just skyrocketed!

If you can, walk the bank and throw in some bait and berley at a few different spots. Come back later and spend time at each of these spots…..

….you never know, a monster carp may have just come out of hiding and will take your bait!

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