Fishing for carp in spring is arguably the best time in the year to catch them. This blog post is going to go through some of the popular tactics, gear, and rigs for spring fishing. To help you answer the question of how to catch carp in the spring.
Why Is Spring a Good Time to Catch Carp
As the sun starts giving off warm rays, the land becomes reinvigorated after the long winter, so do the bodies of water and the fish in them.
Fish like carp, being cold blooded creatures, start becoming more active as the water temperatures climb. As a fish’s blood and body temperature start to climb, so does their appetite due to an increased metabolism, meaning they feed more frequently as the temperatures climb.
If you’re fishing at the time following the spawn, the feeding activity is increased even more, with the carp feeding with a voracity that may not be matched at any other time of the year, with the exception of in the autumn at peak times and conditions.
This is due to the carp recovering after expending vast amounts of energy during the spawning process, coupled with an ever-increasing metabolism. To recover this lost energy, they eat and eat frequently, and for anglers, that’s always a good thing.
Spring Carp Locations
When the days grow warm, and temperatures start climbing in spring, carp will seek out the warmest waters on the lake. These areas will be shallow, like dark bottom bays, flats, and areas close to or directly up to the banks.
If you live in areas that get a substantial amount of ice on the water over the winter months, this movement to shallow water can happen very early, even when there is still ice on the lake’s surface.
Other areas that carp will really key in on are inlets or outlets. Creeks and rivers with small tributaries will certainly see an influx of carp as they travel up these tributaries in search of food or feed on the organic detritus at the mouth of the tributary as the current constantly feeds food to the main river, making it a conveyor belt of food to carp.
Other locations in river systems that are great carp spots are shallow eddies, cuts, bays, or flats that have slack in the current. These areas warm up quickly due to lack of current and typically have soft dark bottoms due to debris gathering in these areas from the current movement just outside of them.
Canals and small shallow bodies of water will likely warm up faster and thus have actively feeding carp. This can be a sharp contrast to larger bodies of water with more depth, as these lakes typically take longer to warm up. Keying in on the warmest bodies of water first in the early spring will lead you to the most active fish in the area you live.
Weather and Spring Fishing
Weather can have a massive impact on spring fishing, and knowing what the weather will do to feeding activity will aid you as an angler by allowing you to know when and where you should fish.
As we all know, the weather in the spring can swing drastically in terms of temperature, this coupled with weather such as overcast days or rain can impact feeding activity for days.
During subsequent days of warm weather and the fish becoming increasingly active, the fishing is great, but all it takes is a cold front to turn off the positive feeding of carp. Cold spells that last for 2 or 3 days or even longer will drop the water temperatures again, and in many cases abruptly.
When this cold front moves through, the high pressure accompanied with it can put the fish in a negative or neutral feeding mood, and they might seek deeper water in some cases. This can shut down the spring bite for a week in some cases, and feeding won’t accelerate again until stable, warm, and sunny weather returns.
Stable sunny and warm temperatures are key to consistent success as an angler in the spring. This is great for us, as we get to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather while having some of the best action all year.
Bait Choices for Spring Fishing
As mentioned earlier, carp will be ramping up their feeding and will be keen to eat just about anything. If this is the case, larger offerings can be a great baiting tactic. So don’t be afraid to use large-sized boilies in the spring months.
Many of you may already know that bright colours can be key in the winter months, but this can also be the case in the spring as well. The reason for this is simple, the bait stands out.
The carp, in many cases, are particularly picky with an amped-up metabolism, and hi-vis boilies are great to grab their attention, leading to an investigation and potentially a bite.
Bait Types that Work well in spring
You don’t have to overthink bait choices too much during this time. Do a little experimentation on your local water and find out what works best.
One type of bait that will always work is bread, bread on the surface is absolutely devastating, and carp just can’t get enough of it. So if your fishing in shallow areas like margins or small bays in the spring with no current, bring a loaf of bread with you!
Hemp, pellets, and corn are great choices for free-baiting in the spring months. Corn especially, it’s cheap, you can get lots of it, and they are brighter in color, which goes back to the whole standing out and getting the fish’s attention aspect that we mentioned above.
The Chod Rig
Chod Rigs are great for keeping your bait up and off the bottom and any debris that might be covering it. And as we mentioned earlier, dark bottom bays are great spots to catch early spring carp due to the heating up faster, but the reason for the dark bottom is usually detritus that has gathered over the fall and winter months.
Keeping your bait up off the bottom can be key in many spring fishing situations, and this rig is great at doing just that.
The hinge rig is great for fishing around clean bottoms, and it’s also great later in the spring as weeds start to develop. Fish the hinge rig with a pop-up boilie to get it just above the new and low vegetation and wait for a hungry carp to come swimming by.
Simple Margin Rigs
If you’re fishing and stalking the margins, you can keep things very simple in terms of rigging and use basically only a hook and some bait. I recommend a size 16 or 18 hook. You will get more takes than with a size 12 in many cases, particularly in clear water.
And bait choices can be anything we mentioned above. Worms, corn, and bread will work wonders, and if you wanted, you could fish boilies with a bait link attached.
Margin Fishing and Stalking
I can’t write a spring carp fishing article without talking about margin fishing and stalking, as these tactics are simply too good to pass up in the spring months.
With the carp being so shallow on a consistent basis as the water warms, it’s no surprise that stalking and sight fishing can be a very lucrative affair in terms of catching fish.
We have an article dedicated entirely to margin fishing and stalking carp in the shallows. It isn’t a complicated style of fishing, and rigging can be as simple as using a hook and piece of bread, but there is still some critical knowledge to know when it comes to margin fishing and stalking, and if you aren’t too familiar with these tactics take a reasd at our full length post on margin fishing for carp.
Spring is one of the best times, if not arguable, the best time to catch loads of carp. There are also many tactics you can use to get the job done as well, from margin fishing and stalking to fishing areas that are holding warm water and forage to hold numbers of hungry carp.
The answer to the question of how to catch carp in spring is pretty straightforward, and compared to other seasons, it doesn’t need to be complicated, although considerations still need to be taken into account and tactics employed to be consistently successful.