Winter fishing - tactics and info on what the actual Fish do in the worser weather

Hertsbloke

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As a returnee to fishing, Ive noe realised I know next to nothing about wild fish behaviour, in particular, how the weather changes this behaviour.

So, now the weather has turned, I need to understand the fish a lot more.

Help me learn how to they behave and whats best to try int he harder months please.

Any links also welcome
 

steve2

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When the water cools down all fish eat a less because they are less active and therefore need less food.
So even on stocked commercials feeding less, smaller baits is normally the order of the day.
A lot of people for some reason switch over from carp to pike why I don’t know because it’s now the worst time of the year for pike fishing and carp can now be caught all year round.
Why they think pike are different to other fish and feed better in the cold is buried somewhere in the mists of time.
 

john step

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I would say exactly as above as Peter fishes in Herts canals which get more challenging when the colour drops out in the winter.
You must settle for less. Sometimes a few bites from small fish will be enough on a hard day.

There are some waters where you are more likely than others to catch in winter. Experience and talking to other anglers will find these "go to" waters.
On a canal for example they are likely to be in urban stretches.
Some lakes have a deep part that attracts fish in the cold.

I ALWAYS have worm with me in winter. Its surprising how a small piece of worm on a 16/18 to 1.1bs bottom will get bites when a maggot has been ignored. Chop a few up and scatter round your float for best effect.

Join a club to plug into the grapevine. I used to live in Herts and fish a large Herts club waters. Some of the very best barbel/chub/roach fishing was when my landing net had frozen to the ground.

Often there is no point in early starts. Midday to dusk can be the very best few hours.

All the written advice on here will not be as good as getting boots on the ground and observing and fishing.
 

s63

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And wrap up warmer than you think you might need to.
 

john step

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When the water cools down all fish eat a less because they are less active and therefore need less food.

A lot of people for some reason switch over from carp to pike why I don’t know because it’s now the worst time of the year for pike fishing and carp can now be caught all year round.
Why they think pike are different to other fish and feed better in the cold is buried somewhere in the mists of time.
In reply to Steve. I fish for pike in winter. I also do all other sorts of fishing in winter. I do this because quite simply there is so much fishing to do and only one life to do it in. Its a very handy way to grab some baits from the freezer and get on my local river which is fisherable when the choking weed has died down.
I agree that carp can be caught all year round now. The trouble comes this time of year for me insomuch I have had so many by now ( not bragging just truth) that I just avoid them until the summer.
 

Philip

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Some fish are more active in the cold than others so if you want a few bites it makes sense to target those. Chub for example are widespread and will feed on the coldest day and are big enough to put a nice bend in the rod.

They are also an excellent fish to learn about things like watercraft. If your new or returning to angling you can do allot worse then take a single rod, a few bits of tackle and a loaf of bread down to a local river and spend the day roving around fishing for them. You will learn allot.
 
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Keith M

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Great advice given in the previous posts, but one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned so far is that once the temperatures start to drop through the floor; the fish are less inclined to move around looking for their food as much as they do in warmer temperatures, and they are often more inclined to stay in much tighter and more static shoals, so moving around to different swims until you find them can often make the difference between a good or bad day.

On the rivers and streams they are also a bit less inclined to chase after their food quite as much as they do in warmer temperatures; however if the temperatures have been steady or rising for a couple of days (even when it’s still very cold out) the fish can be a little more inclined to move around looking for morsels of food moving past in the current; but still not as much as they do in warmer temperatures.

Beware of things like rain or snow melt which is coming off of busy roads during the winter months as well, as this can sometimes be the kiss of death.

Keith
 
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xenon

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I only fish rivers during winter (come to that, I only fish rivers full stop) because the flow means the fish are expending energy to hold station so have to feed whether they like it or not. Agree with above comment about fish becoming much more localised so a roving approach with big smelly baits (cheesepaste, meat) should give results. If you have not had any interest after 20 minute there is probably no one home so move on. Wrap up very warm-sitting around in sub zero temperatures is no joke if you are cold. Take some food/drink. I would also target one river/stretch and get to know that like the back of your hand rather than running around here there and everywhere.
 

whitty

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In essence fishing(particularly float fishing)is about creating competition for your bait by feeding,in winter as Simon says feed needs to be reduced to create said competition,at times feeding one to six maggots every cast is best,but also bait choice is important,you will notice Simon will be posting catches where the predominant bait is punched bread and liquidised bread feed,great as water clears,baits such as pellets are less effective,apart from on regularly fished commercials and even then frugal feeding is best,that said many matches have been won just casting a straight lead and a single grain of corn around the peg,searching where the carp are lying up in the cold.
 

markg

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November can be good for Roach and Rudd if it turns milder.When it's really cold in December Chub are my only target really, they will feed quite well sometimes even in the coldest weather. The roach can come back in January and February can be good for Carp if it starts to turn milder but Chub fishing can be good right up to the close season, some of my best catches have come in those first couple of weeks in March. Just a general thing as you never can be really sure but it's a pattern I have seen most years.
Pike and Perch are an option but I don't fish for them much so other advice is better to follow where they are concerned.
Bread crust and cheese are my favoured baits in winter but others will work, maggots, worms etc. I do try sweetcorn as well which does work on a good day but maybe not so much in the winter but worth a try sometimes.
Some of it will depend on other factors such as bright sun and clear water or muddy water and overcast skies, the latter will be better and if the temperatures stay stable for a spell I find the fish will feed more reguarily, they dont like fluctations in temperatures I find but always get out and have a go especially for Chub.
Lots of different good advice here in the thread so maybe apply it to your instincts a bit based on what your fishing and what you like to fish for plus how you like to fish.
 
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ian g

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One fish I have noticed when fishing in winter , time of day can make a big difference . I mainly fish for perch and they will often just switch on for a short period when it's a bite a cast and then either move on or switch off . I'd probably concentrate on a particular section of water to start with and build up a picture of how the stretch fishes in different conditions , certainly worked for me.
 

nottskev

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Some of the best fishing can be in winter; equally, some waters can get almost impossibly hard. You may have to get up early to get a peg on some Wye stretches, the winter fishing is so good. Meanwhile, you can have a mile or two of river to yourself where I live.

The general advice about locating more tightly shoaled fish, feeding them more cautiously, and expecting shorter feeding spells later in the day is definitely right. And there's no substitute for having a walk around to look, asking locally and testing it for yourself.

There isn't always an obvious answer to winter conditions; sometimes the fish are just less active and the fishing less productive. I was out yesterday, with an FM member who certainly knows how to catch fish, on a stillwater we've fished a couple of times in the couple of weeks since the latest floods and first hard frosts kicked in. We've spoken to the bloke who runs the fishing, chatted to bailiffs and gamekeepers. We've walked round and scrutinised all the pegs from the point of view of wind direction and - it's in woodland - how much sun will fall where and when. Between us we've tried half a dozen pegs, waggler, pole and tip at all kinds of depth and distance, and maggots, pinkies, flake, crust and corn. Yesterday, neither of us could get a bite between 10 am and 12, and the flickers of life between 12 and 3pm got us a total of a dozen bites or so and 5 fish between us. The contrast with the fishing before the weather changed is huge, and if there's a trick to catching more at the moment, we couldn't find it. It was still enjoyable fishing, but the fish appear to have switched off.

On the brighter side, if you get into fishing natural waters in winter you'll find fewer others around and a special kind of pared-down beauty to the waters. By the time we get to December and January, expectations get adjusted and any bit of success is appreciated. There are a couple of little rivers nearby where, if I go out at 2pm and fish til 4pm, I can get 2 bites and a chub, or even, on a red-letter day, 3 bites and 2 chub, and come home feeling like that was a good day's fishing!
 
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Keith M

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Even when your waters are completely iced over it can sometimes be worth visiting a water (with a camera or a pad and pencil instead of a rod) looking for the locations of any melt holes in the ice situated above submerged springs that might be there, so that when the ice has gone you are aware of where these springs are; as these relatively warm springs can be magnets for feeding fish during the coldest of months as the temperatures will often remain fairly steady throughout the whole of the year (see pic below showing typical signs to look out for).

Welcome to Verulam Angling Club

Keith
 
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silvers

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Yes- but not always .... is a good maxim.

I'm also a river floatfisher by preference.
I usually feed more in the winter than in the summer because
a) I'm fishing more productive venues such as the Wye, Sever or Old Nene at March
b) These are also "bigger" venues so need to attract from a wider swim
c) I target chub more in the winter and you can "give em a gallon" as the saying used to go. TBH it's more like 5 pints usually for a 5 hour match.
 

john step

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I forgot to say. If you want to find roach on a normal level river or a stillwater take a walk at dusk. I promise you will see them topping.
Also on walks you will see fish scatter. Pike and perch are there scattering the fish because thats where the fish are.
 

whitty

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Yes- but not always .... is a good maxim.

I'm also a river floatfisher by preference.
I usually feed more in the winter than in the summer because
a) I'm fishing more productive venues such as the Wye, Sever or Old Nene at March
b) These are also "bigger" venues so need to attract from a wider swim
c) I target chub more in the winter and you can "give em a gallon" as the saying used to go. TBH it's more like 5 pints usually for a 5 hour match.
Don't fish the Ivel then Alex,when we used to fish the Trent in its hayday,a gallon of bronze,or 6 pints of caster,in the summer,in winter you would carry 4pints wouldnt expect to use 2,let's be honest,you wouldn't throw much bait in the Old Men's in summer,the fish aren't there,the Wye is solid,but I wonder how many reasonable weights are thrown away by feeding for sixty to eighty pounds,look at the Ouse,I've never thrown a gallon in in five hours,sometimes four pints,normally 2/3,to me it wasn't the quantity,but the regularity,how many times have you fished a decent peg,had 15/20lbs of chub,framed and gone away chuffed,often you should have been gutted,most of those days you and I left sixty or seventy pounds still munching our feed,fish are crafty and turn away from our hookbait countless times,I remember Alan Brown pleasure fishing down chub alley at Radwell,he had four or five ABC lads watching as he sprayed countless pints of maggot out,the chub loved it,didn't catch many though,they were flying around picking up lose offerings and not taking his,he fetched a fly rod out and caught two in three casts before they sussed it again,he caught four and fed nearly a gallon,I sat the next peg up(and not as good a swim as he was on)and had 10,fed a pint and a half,still had them claring about,I fished a 2bb peacock,2" long, fished a foot deep,still had plenty turn away,but maximised fish on the bank,that was summer,I find roach can require more bait,if they're having it in February and March,purely because of numbers,but now,nah,no chance,unless coloured water saves your bacon...

That said I would probably carry four pints,just in case...
 
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silvers

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agreed Alan - hence my first line ... there are rules of thumb and then times when you break them.

When the Ouse chub used to come up in the water freely ... and that's last century really I would use similar tactics to you. Tiny float, not shot down the line and leave some casters out to turn to floaters to balance the hook weight. These days on the Warks Avon I tend to catch them at full depth down the peg ... hoovering up the loose feed. There are so many small fish in both rivers that you have to feed a fair amount to get through to the chub in the summer and autumn.
 

Jim Crosskey 2

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On the brighter side, if you get into fishing natural waters in winter you'll find fewer others around and a special kind of pared-down beauty to the waters. By the time we get to December and January, expectations get adjusted and any bit of success is appreciated. There are a couple of little rivers nearby where, if I go out at 2pm and fish til 4pm, I can get 2 bites and a chub, or even, on a red-letter day, 3 bites and 2 chub, and come home feeling like that was a good day's fishing!
^^^^^^^^^ this!!!! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ sums up my thoughts on winter fishing perfectly. Chub are the quarry, liquidised bread is the feed and bread or cheesepaste the hookbait. Travel light and try to fish as many likely looking spots as you can. After a while you will build up a picture of swims, some are absolutely bankers where you KNOW you will get a bite, others are 50/50 and others still might be a "gambler".... 2 or 3 hours wandering about before it gets dark and maybe half an hour after in one of the banker swims, not long enough to get frozen to the bone, not even long enough for you to really need food or drink. All my tackle is in my pockets and picking up everything to get to the next swim is a decision taken in seconds and executed in less than 2 minutes. And even a relatively modest chub can turn an unsuccessful day in to a triumph. Literally one of my favourite times of the year!
 
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