Carp fishing in winter is a challenge for sure…

This is a tough question. As choosing the best carp bait in the summer can be hard enough, so picking a bait that you hope will catch you fish in the winter can be even more challenging. That said I think that there are few a baits that will do the business, but for me the best carp bait for winter has to be sweetcorn, closely followed by maggots!


This Mirror Carp might not be the biggest in the world at 16lb but I was well chuffed with the result. It was a freezing cold day, the temperature didn’t climb above zero degrees! I caught this fish on two grains of fake corn.

I think it’s fair to say that Winter carp fishing is a challenge at best! At worst it sometimes can be a bit of a nightmare.

I’ve spent many winter days carp fishing, when it’s been that cold my fingers are nearly falling off and I’m sitting there freezing thinking to myself what the heck am I doing here when I could be somewhere nice and warm; like in a pub with a nice pint in my hand 🙂 We’ve all been there right?

The main thing to remember when you’re winter fishing is to keep warm. A good waterproof bivvy with a twin skin to keep in the heat is essential. The two man bivvy below is an excellent buy and and is a perfect choice for those cold days.


ABODE EURO 2 MAN PRAM HOOD BIVVY SYSTEM 5000 TWIN SKIN £139.99 – keep the heat in and the cold out on those freezing cold days – click image to view details

To find out more about carp fishing bivvies then click here to read my post on what I think are the best bivvies for value for money.


Apart from the cold though there’s something special about fishing in the winter. Some people just think that you’re blame barmy (like my fiancee) but I think without doubt catching a carp in the winter is probably the most satisfying, purely down to the fact that catching carp in the colder months is often very difficult.

Carp feed a lot less in the winter…

A carp’s metabolism slows right down so they tend to feed less and when they do it’s usually on smaller baits. A couple of maggots or a nice single grain of sweetcorn are great winter carp baits. Maggots are more of a natural bait and are small enough but more importantly are alive and moving which I think is a big attraction for carp especially in the Winter.

For me using fake plastic baits in the winter is the best choice. The main reason being is the confidence that you get knowing that the plastic baits cannot be eaten and so will always be present on your hair rig – this is a very important factor! The below fake baits have an excellent variety of baits perfect for all year round fishing.

Plastic Fake Baits

Fake Baits including sweetcorn, maggots and dog biscuits. Click image to find out more.

You don’t even have to use live maggots on the hook, you can use fake maggots if you want and they will do the job just as good – red maggots have given me the best results. One of the problems with using live maggots is that they do tend to lose their life quite quickly as the water is so cold. That’s why it’s always a good idea to try and keep the maggots as warm as possible before putting them on the hook. A bit difficult I know when you’re outside but try and keep them sealed at the very least.

I remember back in the day anglers used to put single maggots in their mouth to warm them up in the winter, to make them more lively, before putting them on the hook. This doesn’t happen anymore due to the obvious health risks – well I don’t think it does anyway!

Vango - Folding Gas Stove

Vango – Folding Gas Stove only £20.55 with 60 customer reviews [usr 5.0] – click image to view more details

One essential piece of equipment especially in the winter is a good little gas stove so you can make a nice brew and cook some food! Keeping your energy levels up in the cold is very important. The above stove is one that I’ve selected and is highly rated – click on the above image to read all the reviews.

What baiting methods to use in the winter…

Another problem I’ve experienced with using live maggots is the bitter cold weather, as it can be a pain trying to hook on maggots when you can barely feel your fingers 🙂 If you’re planning on using a bunch of maggots then a maggot clip would probably be best to use.

Sweetcorn however is a much easier bait to work with. The beauty with sweetcorn is the colour, texture and taste which the carp find irresistible no matter what time of year it is. I’ve caught a lot of carp on sweetcorn in the winter months and for me it really is a top bait. I usually fish just one grain of corn directly on the hook if I’m float fishing or if I’m fishing with a lead approach then I will always use a fake piece of corn. I will usually try the fake red corn as well as the standard yellow corn to see which gets the best results.

Winter Carp Setting

Carp Fishing in the Winter.

Another important factor to consider when using smaller hookbaits is that you won’t get pestered so much by smaller fish as they will tend to showl up in areas of the lake, hopefully away from where you’re carp fishing. Obviously if you used this approach in the summer months you tend to get hammered by the nuisance fish which is why most carp anglers avoid using smaller hookbaits. Apart from in certain situations i.e. when you stalking for carp in the margins after you’ve managed to locate them.

A couple of other baits which have caught me quite a few carp in the winter is bread and luncheon meat or Spam. But again use only small pieces on the hook as this works better. Trust me you’ll have a lot less success using larger hookbaits like a large boilie or pellet, well in my experience anyway.

If you do intend to use a boilie or pellet as a hookbait then I would suggest using a bait no larger than 10 or 12mm – click here to view Mainline Response 10mm or 15mm Sweetcorn Boilies at just £2.60 for a small size bag! A perfect winter boilie.


Another great baiting method in the winter when using boilies is to use High Viz Boilies for even greater attraction. Sometimes using a high viz pop-up as a single hook bait can bring excellent results. I would recommend using a smaller bait such as a 12mm high viz pop-up. Click here to find out more about the different flavours/colours & sizes on offer.

Dickies Waterproof Padded Coverall, Black

Dickies Waterproof Padded Coverall from £51.49 – This will also keep you nice and warm on the those freezing cold days! Click image to view details…

Keeping dry and warm is key when you’re winter fishing. The above waterproof padded coverall is a priceless bit of kit and is a must if you intend to fish long sessions. Click on the above image to find out more and to read over 90 customer reviews!

If you are interested in buying the NEW FOX 2 PIECE CARP WINTER SUIT – JACKET, BIB & BRACE which is one of the most popular on the market then click here to find out more.

Winter Carp Fishing Bait Recipe Tips.

Boilies are still a great winter carp bait. As already mentioned if you are using boilies then the secret is to use smaller boilies on the hook i.e. 8mm or 12mm boilies. I would tend to use small pva bags of pellets and crushed boilies and that’s it – no other free offerings! Remember carp feed less in the winter so loading the swim with bait is not the way to go.

Making your own boilies especially for the winter months is always a great option. It’s really easy to make your own boilies these days with the different dry base mixes on offer along with boilie making tools – check out my post on making your own boilies to find out more.

One of the best boilie dry base mixes on the market at a very good price is from Starmer Baits. They do various sizes from a 900g which will set up back £6.00 up to 25kg which is only £48.00 – great value!Stammer Baits - Boilie Base Mix

They also have the following great flavours:
50/50 Protein Base Mix
Big Fishmeal Base Mix
Green-lip Mussel Base mix
Hempseed Base Mix
60/40 Birdseed Base Mix
Chopped Mixed Nuts base Mix

What areas on the lake are best to fish in the winter?

This is a question that gets asked a lot. But for me it’s all about knowing the water that you’re fishing. It’s no good rocking up to a lake for the first time in the winter because you have no idea about the lake, it’s depth and where fish like to hold up etc. You will have an impossible job on your hands and your chances of catching are probably zilch. If you do catch it will probably be by pure luck more than anything else.

I always find that the best swims in the summer months will more often than not produce results in the winter as well. Obviously I’m not talking about areas of a lake that has two feet of water which might be good in the warmer summer months, but I’m talking about areas where there are underwater snags or other features like islands and gullies that usually attract carp.

Korda Pop Up Maize

Korda Pop Up Maize comes in a variety of colours and is one that I use a lot – click image to view more details.

Also if you have knowledge of the lake bed and it’s contours etc…you will know where the deep holes are which are perfect places for carp to hold up in the colder months. Sometimes it can simply be just too cold for the carp to feed, it happens, and your fishing session will end in a blank. Trust me you will get plenty of them when you’re winter carp fishing it comes with the territory.

For me the best time to fish in the winter is when the temperature lifts slightly; it might only be a couple of degrees, but that can be enough to get the fish feeding. I don’t tend to go fishing when the temperature drops suddenly by say 5 degrees or even 10 degrees, this can be a bit of shock to the carp and they will usually stop feeding.

Anyway good luck with the winter carp fishing and remember to wrap up warm, that’s my number one tip! 🙂

Winter Warmers Camo Snood And Gloves Hunter Fishing Gift Idea

Winter Warmers Camo Snood And Gloves Hunter Fishing Gift Idea – Click image to view more details on Amazon.

Remember to keep your head and hands warm day and night with this camo snood and gloves. These gloves have a feature where the thumb, index and middle finger can be velcroed down so you can prepare rigs etc with ease without the need to remove the gloves. Click here to view more details.

NOTE: All prices are correct at the time of publishing this page.


8 Responses to What is the Best Carp Bait for Winter?

  1. John says:

    Hi Ade,
    What would be your best bait for winter fishing if you had to choose just one?

    • Ade says:

      Hi John,
      For me I would probably have to pick Sweetcorn. For the simple that it’s a highly attractive small bait. I’ve caught more carp on Sweetcorn in the winter than any other bait. But don’t dismiss maggots or small highly flavoured boilies, these have also done the business for me!
      Hope this helps.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for your comments Ade. What about fishing pellets in winter, any good?

    • Ade says:

      I do sometimes use pellets but more as a bit of groundbait than as a hookbait. Alternatively I might use a bit of hemp just to keep the carp interested. If you’re using pellet as a hookbait then I would use a small pellet say 8mm – a red dynamite pellet would be a good choice for me.

  3. John says:

    Ok thanks for the advice.

  4. Mick says:

    Have you ever tried lob worm during the winter months and if so how did you get on?

    • Ade says:

      I haven’t actually tried using a lob worm but I have tried a bunch of red blood worms and had a lot of success with them. Natural baits are arguably a better choice of bait in the winter. If you are using a lob worm then I would suggest cutting the worm into a few pieces and using a maggot clip to hook all the bits of worm on. This way the juices from the worm will act as a great attractor in the water. Also it’s worth attaching a piece of fake red or yellow sweetcorn for extra visual attraction – that should work a treat!

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