Top 10 Winter Carp Baits
When winter comes along, carp, like most freshwater fish, will begin to slow down to conserve energy. This means they must prepare for winter by fattening up in the fall. By the time the cooler water comes, carp like to be in their wintering areas going after the easiest food they can get their mouths on. Here are my top 10 winter baits to maximize the bite during the slow winter months.
These baits, a favorite among carp anglers are great for areas that you fish frequently. It requires more of a time investment, as well as an ample supply of boilies. Seen as a last resort for some, these baits can become hot at any moment, and when they’re on boilies, the bites will come fast and frequent. Boilies, especially homemade, should always be in your bait arsenal. For the more shopping inclined carp anglers, I like sweeter, brighter boilies.
These boilies by Enterprise Tackle are a great example of both color and flavor variety!
Another popular bait due to their reliable effectiveness are pop-ups. In the winter months the focus turns to the more highly visible colors like pink, purple, orange, red, and of course, white. These baits are especially effective at hovering just above bottom (hence the name). They are also quite durable, being able to stay in the water for long periods of time with little degradation. In addition to their size and color, pop-ups are absolutely jam packed with attractants an important factor when drawing in slow feeding carp.
Hemp is effective year-round. These oily baits are excellent at carrying scent in the water. Along with strong scent carrying capability, hemp is quite nutritional, and carp will prioritize nutrition in the winter. Bring the hemp, and the carp will come to feed, and they will stay until it’s all gone. Another positive to using hemp is that they aren’t as prone to being eaten by non-target fish and wildlife, unlike worms.
Probably one of the best baits out there for year-round carp fishing. Packed with protein and nutrition, these baits are hard for carp to resist. They are also excellent at getting fish to commit to your bait mostly due to the scent and movement presented by worms. Unfortunately, however, these baits are not suitable for heavy lead presentations as bite detection becomes much more difficult. In addition to limited rigging options, worms are also attractive to other fish, which makes it difficult to use in diverse areas. Smaller fish will often nibble off worms well before any carp can get to them. This means that often you will find the worm gone from your line without ever knowing when it was eaten.
One of the few guarantees on this list are maggots. Winter carp will eat maggots no matter the weather. If you are presenting maggots where there are carp, you will surely see success. I recommend using maggots when all else fails as maggots, especially in the numbers needed to pack a mag aligner bag. When used with a mag aligner rig, there is probably no deadlier winter technique.
Corn and carp go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s odd since corn doesn’t naturally find itself in carp waters. Nevertheless, corn is a timeless classic carp bait. Great as a direct bait as well as a bed bait that you fish over with some other style. One of the greatest things about corn is that it is probably the cheapest bait you can get.
Ground bait in the winter is all about attraction using scent. A common go to is to grind up bread crumb or some ready-made ground bait and mix it with liquid attractants. In the winter you don’t have to worry too much about small fish eating up your ground bait. Once your ground bait has been placed fish over it with your preferred method. If you choose the right mix of ground bait and attractant, you should have no problem bringing the carp in and landing one.
Sometimes just throwing on a boilie and casting it out there is not enough. Boilie glugs are a little bit of extra attractant that you can and should apply to your boilies on every cast. Also, you can apply boilie glugs to your ground bait or spod mix as an attractant boost. Another tip is to have multiple flavors of glugs ready so that you can try different scents until you find one that works.
Cold water makes it tougher for baits to naturally scent the water and that makes it harder to attract fish to your location. Using oil-based attractants becomes necessary during winter months. Oils do a better job at spreading scent in the water column. They come in many different scents, so feel free to experiment. Popular oils are hemp, krill and tuna.
Salt and Spices
While salt and spices seem like an unorthodox approach to baiting, they are quite effective year-round. Some people will put salt, and nothing else into a PVA bag. Others will laden their baits and mix with salt. Both methods work very well. Salt will hold form in the winter because of the colder water and thus using coarse grain salts will maximize their time in the water. In addition to regular salt, spices like garlic salt, onion powder, and chili powder do quite well at attracting carp.
There you have it, my best winter carp baits and essentials. It's all about getting scent spread out to attract carp and keeping them there. Colder water inhibits the propagation of attractant throughout the water column so it becomes even more important to come ready with different baits and scented products to maximize your chances at being a successful winter carp angler.