Fish Movement in Winter

theartist

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I have a couple of carp in the canal near me that I see on my commute most mornings, well they are not mine of course rather someone else's as being bright white and pottering about in the Grand Union they have most likely outgrown someone's pond. I have not fished for them but have put a bit of feed their way whilst watching them for a few minutes each day.

Being so noticeable I have been able to observe them over the winter and some of their behaviour traits have surprised me. The main one is how static yet active they are, it sounds like a contradiction but these two fish are always in the same spot each day - an overhanging tree with lots of cover. There are lots of such features along this cut yet they prefer this one. Despite staying in the same spot they move around the tree almost non stop as I have been there on the coldest of mornings and they have been moving about, not rooting about or with any great haste but always on the move nonetheless, even with a heavy frost and ice I have waited patiently and sure enough they have ghosted into view at times before disappearing then popping into view again, smashing any perceived thoughts that these fish would be dormant in such low temperatures.

Another surprise was how high up in the water they always are, even on the coldest mornings at first light they are cruising around about 1-2ft from the surface, they are there later in the day too. All of this could be a Koi thing but even so I've found it interesting

Do you have any thoughts or examples of fish movement in winter?
 

markg

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Only that my mate who had an out door pond about 12ft, 6ft and 8ft deep full of big goldfish that I think are carp family. They just lay dormant at the bottom of the pond when it gets really cold. They don't seem to hardly move.
I walked in my local park and the carp which are always in one spot during the summer, where they are fed from a platform. They completely disappear for most of the winter when it is cold even if food is thrown in. You cannot fish it but I guess there are about 40 carp in there up to about 10/15lb ish.
 

steve2

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I was looking in large fishpond recently approx 50’x10’ there were no fish in be seen. That was until I spotted them shoaled up by a dead lily bed they all appeared to be asleep or in semi hibernation. If I hadn’t seen them I would have said the pond was empty.
 

markg

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I have been surprised to see a few crucian carp caught on the HDYGO thread recently. In my experience they completely shut down after October to March but that may just be an indication of it being fairly mild for the time of year but I am still surprised by it.
Could we ever work it all out!
 

john step

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There are 3 pools on a club complex I fish.
1> The carp cruise about all winter about 2 foot down like Robs even not feeding.
2 The carp sit in the deepest part under a sheer bank.
3 The carp gather in a group in this shallow lake and can be seen as a dark shape when the water gets very clear. If you didnt know you could think it was a weedbed.
 

peterjg

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I have found on rivers and canals in winter that roach shoal up really close and this results in long stretches devoid of fish. I used to think that in the colder months that they would be more spread out due to less natural food but that is not the case.

When the rivers are in spate I have found that roach move upstream and not downstream.

Obviously with fishing nothing is set in stone and your findings might be completely different?

As for carp (USUALLY) the smaller ones are more likely to remain active because they are growing fish where as big carp are now just feeding to maintain their metabolism.
 

whitty

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Roach migrate to winterng grounds on many rivers,one prime example is the old Nene at Spalding,it becomes absolutely solid with roach in winter,a match over xmas was won with 53lbs+ of roach,2nd was 51lb+,43lbs didnt make the frame,a mate of mine and Silvers(Alex),Rob Hewison was the runner up,the lowest weight in his section was 30lbs,apparently there was over 1,400lbs of roach caught. Ely town centre has an influx of fish during winter too...
 

markg

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One river that is about 20 yds wide and up to 12 ft deep in the middle for about 1/4 mile and then quite suddenly becomes very narrow and shallow for the rest of it. I fished this a lot in the lower stretch all year round; chub seem to virtually disappear from this in the summer. In the winter it is almost like all the chub congregate in this lower wider deeper section, I can catch chub almost guaranteed in the winter here, they seem to be in a few large shoals up to about 4lb which is big for the river, the average being about 2lb. All through the summer, lucky to get one or two small ones and lots of chublets about but none of these big shoals.
I don’t know at what time they migrate up-river because of the close season but they have gone by June 16th
 

The bad one

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Roach migrate to winterng grounds on many rivers,one prime example is the old Nene at Spalding,it becomes absolutely solid with roach in winter,a match over xmas was won with 53lbs+ of roach,2nd was 51lb+,43lbs didnt make the frame,a mate of mine and Silvers(Alex),Rob Hewison was the runner up,the lowest weight in his section was 30lbs,apparently there was over 1,400lbs of roach caught. Ely town centre has an influx of fish during winter too...
And don't forget the River Delph at Welney bridge pool. Stuffed with roach and hybrids this time of year along with predators. My PB Zed 11 03 came from the pool back in the mid 90s.
 

theartist

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I believe these winter movements happen on every single water in the country and it's mainly man made obstructions that stop them being large scale events.

Every now and then though you get fish that buck the trend and you wonder why they are where they are
 

markg

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I believe these winter movements happen on every single water in the country and it's mainly man made obstructions that stop them being large scale events.

Every now and then though you get fish that buck the trend and you wonder why they are where they are
I think there must be many different factors from river to river that determines it all so no two rivers are probably the same. My chub example for instance, I only know it on that river in the way it happens.

Just a note, bridges are good in winter, apparently the concrete warms up in the day and releases heat so the water temperature is very slightly higher but enough to make a difference fish. I would think any concrete structure is good to look for, not sure about concrete canal towpaths but do the fish hug them in the winter?
 

theartist

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I think there must be many different factors from river to river that determines it all so no two rivers are probably the same. My chub example for instance, I only know it on that river in the way it happens.

Just a note, bridges are good in winter, apparently the concrete warms up in the day and releases heat so the water temperature is very slightly higher but enough to make a difference fish. I would think any concrete structure is good to look for, not sure about concrete canal towpaths but do the fish hug them in the winter?
Probably not as the canals usually go pretty clear and the bottom near the towpath is often visible, another factor with winter fish movement on canals is comorants so features often hold the fish and this brings the bridges in to play for that too
 

Molehill

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Interesting thread this as it's something I was about to post myself, winter fish migrations in rivers, but not spawning migrations. Although some species appear to hang about in the same areas , just moving into deeper pools etc. others must travel some distance, but how far do they go? Do they leave the rest of the river near empty? Roach and dace seem obvious species - well, they seem to totally disappear from where I fish :( and I wonder how far up or downstream they travel, possibly miles and what attracts them in particular?
Of course it's a bonanza if you know where they are and can fish there, but fishing other spots however attactive they look seems a waste of time.
 

whitty

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Barbel migrate miles,one particular fish was caught on the Royalty for years appeared on beat two at Throop,or the other way round and nobody really knows why it did the jaunt and it is a fair old way...
 

markg

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Interesting thread this as it's something I was about to post myself, winter fish migrations in rivers, but not spawning migrations. Although some species appear to hang about in the same areas , just moving into deeper pools etc. others must travel some distance, but how far do they go? Do they leave the rest of the river near empty? Roach and dace seem obvious species - well, they seem to totally disappear from where I fish :( and I wonder how far up or downstream they travel, possibly miles and what attracts them in particular?
Of course it's a bonanza if you know where they are and can fish there, but fishing other spots however attactive they look seems a waste of time.
Not sure i would want it to happen but it would be interesting if a few fish were tagged every year and noted when and where caught along rivers just to answer your question.
 

rich66

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Not sure i would want it to happen but it would be interesting if a few fish were tagged every year and noted when and where caught along rivers just to answer your question.
I believe it’s been done with pike. I’ll see if I can find the article


Not the articles I was thinking of but some may find it interesting.


https://pureportal.inbo.be/portal/f...patterns_of_adult_pike_in_a_lowland_river.pdf


(PDF) Patterns of movement of adult northern pike (Esox lucius L.) in a regulated river
 
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Molehill

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Not sure i would want it to happen but it would be interesting if a few fish were tagged every year and noted when and where caught along rivers just to answer your question.
It would and probably answer a lot of questions, be a good PHD project for someone as lots of work to try and understand the why and where of these movements, different species and different river systems.

May also change some of our fishing approaches, if I knew nearly every roach for 5 miles had migrated to XYZ stretch for the winter I wouldn't bother fishing (or buy another angling club ticket!) and same with other species. One would presume many shoal fish will go straight from winter quarters to spawning grounds in the spring/early summer and then spread back through a river system. Barbel seem to go miles to spawn and then back again.
Lots of unanswered questions when ypou think about them - what makes fishing so fascinating - we shall never know it all!
 

The bad one

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Not sure i would want it to happen but it would be interesting if a few fish were tagged every year and noted when and where caught along rivers just to answer your question.
Been done Mark by Dr Stuart Clough & Dr Paul Gardner on the River Frome with dace. One fish went 6 miles up river every night, only to return to the same spot it started from in the morning.
Molehill they, roach and dace, go to Preston Deeps mate on their winter holidays. Returning up river around late March early April. It's a fair sight to see as they run up the weir in their 1000s.

PS The weir is being taken out this year and the start date as decreed by the Ribble Trust is the 16th of March and will take a month to complete. So much for the consideration of the coarse fish migrations in the river. But hey they RT claim to not be game fish centric! Oh really!
 
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whitty

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Barbel travel miles regardless of spawning,the biggest fish on the Ivel was caught at both ends of the stretch in a week once,probably only 2/3rds of a mile,but this is in late February...
 

markg

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Been done Mark by Dr Stuart Clough & Dr Paul Gardner on the River Frome with dace. One fish went 6 miles up river every night, only to return to the same spot it started from in the morning.
Molehill they, roach and dace, go to Preston Deeps mate on their winter holidays. Returning up river around late March early April. It's a fair sight to see as they run up the weir in their 1000s.

PS The weir is being taken out this year and the start date as decreed by the Ribble Trust is the 16th of March and will take a month to complete. So much for the consideration of the coarse fish migrations in the river. But hey they RT claim to not be game fish centric! Oh really!
Fascinating that, 6 miles, fish are surprising; I bet some very interesting findings would be made if more of this was done.
I once saw a big shoal of roach on a small weir. This weir was only about 3ft high, it was actually an EA construction that they used to measure the flow of the water so not a weir as such. These roach looked like they were spawning to me although not sure or they could have been waiting for the level to rise so they could go over the weir, the water was clear and shallow as it run off the weir. Amazing sight but I knew this river well and roach were absent in this upper part, I rarely caught any and this was in the close season so they must have migrated up river to this spot .
 
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