In the UK, with cold and unpleasant winters and (sometimes) relatively warm summer, many carp anglers believe that carp angling is mainly a summer sport and will hang up their tackle and retire to the warmth of their homes until Spring arrives and the weather improves.
Only a few hardy anglers will brave the winter weather in the search for carp, and you can find commercial fisheries and carp fishing waters extremely quiet.
Although this would make it seem that carp can only be caught in the summer, this is not the case.
This post will focus on: can you carp fish all year round and the best time of year for fishing for carp.
Can You Carp Fish All Year Round?
As I mentioned above, YES, carp can be caught all year round. However, that’s not to say this is an easy task, and different seasons and weather conditions drastically impact your chances of success.
For example, during the winter months, when water temperatures drop significantly and there is a reduction in natural food sources, the carp enter a state of low energy expenditure where they may only feed once in a small window throughout the day.
Obviously, due to this, carp are much harder to catch in the winter, and that’s not to mention how much harder it is for us anglers to sit on the banks in unfavourable conditions.
So, when exactly is the best and worse time to target carp, and how can you tailor your fishing approach around these external parameters?
Let’s dive into each season and its impact on the fish swimming below us.
Spring Carp Fishing
Once winter is starting to wrap up and temperatures are starting to increase and remain more stable, the carp will start to leave their sort of winter hibernation state and feed more often.
Some anglers class spring as one of the most prolific times for catching throughout the year, but why is this?
After long periods of cold temperatures through winter, the fish will have been feeding a lot less, so when they get the go-ahead from increased temperatures, they will get back on the move looking for food to replenish the energy and body weight lost over the winter months.
A common mistake anglers make coming into spring is overfeeding. Since they know that the carp should be on the feed, they start by heavily baiting areas in the hope of enticing carp into their swim.
In spring, this is a no-go. As the carp are only just starting to frequent areas of the water again, they will still be hesitant to feed over large patches of bait.
Finding the fish and baiting lightly can usually provide the best results.
If day times temperatures are mild and the sun is out, carp can often be found in shallower waters and around margins enjoying the slightly increased temperature of this water as it warms quicker than deeper areas of the water.
Summer Carp Fishing
When summer is in full swing, and the water warmed significantly with temperatures staying relatively high through the nights, the carp will be at their most active.
Actively searching for any foodstuffs, they find in the water.
I’m sure you’d then think you now have the highest chance of catching fish, but unfortunately, this is sometimes not the case.
Just like you, plenty of anglers enjoy getting out on the bank on warm days throughout summer, putting massive angling pressure on the fish with near constant bait application across the lake.
Natural food sources are also at their highest, with snails, bugs, fish eggs and other waterborne insects hatching daily.
With all the free bait in the water and the carp also feeding heavily on natural sources, they will not be feeding consistently throughout the day.
These wary fish can also become accustomed to typical rigs, baits and suspicious bait patches that may send them to areas of the lake that are either inaccessible to anglers or areas the anglers just choose not to fish.
That being said, though, warm sunny summer days lend themselves to surface fishing which can be a great way to spot and catch fish off the top of the water.
In really hot sunny days, the fish will often proliferate the top few feet of water, basking in the sun and warm water. When this is the case you can “stalk” these fish.
Travelling light with floating baits such as bread or dog biscuits can sometimes entice carp to feed off the surface.
If you find a shoal of carp swimming on the surface near the margins (usually near weeds) through in some freebie floating bread or dog biscuits to encourage them to feed.
If the carp begin feeding on the bait, you can attach a piece to a straight line hook and cast into the carp. Make sure to do this stealthily as the fish will be easily spooked
Autumn Carp Fishing
As the weather starts to decline into autumn with crisper mornings, colder nights and reduced temperatures during the day many summer anglers will have hung up their fishing tackle for another year.
This can result in quieter fishing venues and less competition over the carp swimming below you.
During Autumn, the fish will start to sense the dropping water temperatures that signal winter is not far away.
This can cause them to feed heavily with less angling pressure and to stock up on energy to last another winter.
Some anglers swear by using highly nutritious baits such as large boilie in the Autumn as the fish seek food sources that will help them back on as much weight as possible for plenty of energy over winter.
This provides a great opportunity for getting plenty of fish in the net before the challenges of winter carp fishing resurface.
Winter Carp Fishing
Although you can still catch carp in the winter months, it is the most challenging time of year.
As I mentioned previously when water temperatures drop significantly, the carp go into a state of extremely low energy expenditure.
They feed far less and tend to group up in areas of the lake where water temperatures are slightly warmer or even sometimes up against drying weeds or lily pads, which give off some warmth and provide shelter.
During winter, it is common that carp will only feed for a very short window, usually around midday, where the sun has had the chance to warm the water very, very slightly.
For winter carp fishing, location is key. As they say, “ten minutes in the right place is worth ten hours in the wrong place”.
During winter, this couldn’t be more accurate.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to try swims that are protected from the bitterly cold winds and close to weeds, overhanging trees or other features the fish can get up close against to feel safe and wait out the winter.
In the winter it’s common that large parts of the venue will not see any fish whatsoever until spring comes around.
You should now see that carp can be caught all year round, but different seasons provide varying challenges that will get you thinking.
Where would the fun be if the fish were too easy to catch?
Many anglers believe that spring and autumn provide the best opportunity to get fish in the net, but the truth is, if your approach is right, you can carp fish all year round and still get fish in the net.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, and i’ll get back to you ASAP.