Carp fishing is an extremely popular hobby in the UK and across Europe and with the warmer weather of spring just around the corner many anglers will be looking to get back on the banks.
As spring arrives, the carp swimming in our waters will become far more active after months of low energy expenditure throughout the winter.
Fishing for carp in the spring can be a challenging task and especially for beginners who are not familiar with the behaviours of the fish and the techniques involved in catching them.
In this post, I’m going to be guiding you through how to fish for carp in spring.
Carp Behaviour Change
The temperature of the water affects the metabolism and behaviour of carp, which are cold-blooded fish. Carp go into a state of torpor throughout the winter, which causes their metabolism to slow down and makes them less active.
Due to less frequent feeding, carp fishing is typically more difficult during the winter.
Carp begin to emerge from their winter slumber and become more active as the water temperature rises in the spring. Carp need to replenish their energy after a long winter so that spring can be an excellent time for productive carp fishing.
As water temperatures rise into spring with the increase in air temperature, the carp will not only feed more but will also expend more energy and actively visit areas they might not have visited since the start of winter in search of natural food sources.
It will be common to still find carp near features in the water such as weed beds, lilly pads, the margins, overhanging trees or any snags in the water as they feel safe and protected feeding near these areas and they will usually hold an abundance of natural food sources.
Locating Feeding Carp
Locating feeding fish can be the most important areas of carp angling throughout the year and spring is no different. Although the carp will now be more active and feeding more frequently it is still essential that you read the water to spot feeding fish or at least outline where feeding fish may be.
Let’s take a look at some signs of fish that you need to look out for and also areas that will commonly hold fish in spring if you see no visual signs.
There are many visual signs of carp, some that will indicate that they may be feeding over the area, and some just let you know where some of the carp are if they’re moving to new areas or cruising around.
Both can be great at helping you build up a picture of how the carp are behaving when you arrive at a venue, but of course, spotting signs of feeding carp can be a huge indicator of if you’re likely to catch or not.
These signs are what you should be looking for:
- Jumping or rolling: it is common to see carp jumping or rolling on the surface of the water, and they are thought to do this for a few different reasons. One of the reasons is that the carp jump out of the water to push water through their gills and clean any mud or silt that is built up from rooting around and feeding on the bottom. Another reason is to that they are forcing air from their swim bladders to help them change swimming depths comfortably.
- Bubbles can be a great indicator of feeding carp, but you need to know the difference between certain types of bubbles in the water. Sometimes, trapped gasses are released from the silt on the bottom of the water, which will not neccassirly always indicate feeding fish but in some instances they can. If you notice a lot of large or small bubbles from the release of trapped gas, then there may be carp feeding underneath, rooting around in the silt and releasing these gasses. Two lines of bubbles may also be released by large feeding carp as they sort through the substrate on the bottom.
- Ares where the water is more coloured can also indicate feeding fish. As carp usually feed on the bottom and root around silt and mud, looking for natural food sources they can make the water dirty with a lot of suspended silt. If the water is naturally clear but you notice areas of silty water, then there’s a good chance that many carp have been feeding in this area.
- Swirling may also be seen on the surface of the water if the carp are feeding or natural insects or larvae in the top few feet of water. As they pick up one of the creatures and turn away from the surface, a swirl can be created on the surface.
Unfortunately, locating and spotting visual signs of carp or carp feeding is not always possible so it’s good to have an idea of common areas that spring carp may hold up in looking for food.
I’ll provide a list of common places you can find carp in spring below:
- Weedbeds are areas where carp will find natural food sources, safety and more oxygenated water. Fishing the outer boundaries of these areas can be a good place to start if you’re unsure where the carp may be feeding.
- Drop offs where shallow water turns to deeper water can also be areas that hold spring carp looking for food along the bottom. These changes in depth and also water temperature can bring in the fish.
- Underwater features such as sunken trees, rocks and ledges are also areas that carp will hold up against as they feel safe and protected.
- Silt areas on the bottom can also be a good place to look as they will commonly hold natural food sources such as blood worms that the carp will happily rummage through looking for any natural food sources.
- Overhanging trees can provide a food source from seeds or berries falling into the water.
- Inlets and outlets can also be a good place to look as the water temperature will be different here and inlets may wash natural food sources such as warms, insects and larvae into the venue for the carp to feed on.
Baits for Spring Carp
Now that you know how to spot visual signs of carp and where to look if there is none then the next step is to make sure you’ve got a suitable and effective bait for spring carp.
Boilies are probably the most common carp bait used and can be great for spring carp fishing when the fish are looking for substantial feed after long and hard winters.
The round and boiled baits of carp attracting ingredients such as fish meals, spices, flavouring and oils are great at attracting fish into your swim and provide plenty of nutrition to the fish, which should keep them eating.
Boilies are a versatile bait that can be used in many rigs such as bottom rigs, fished as pop-ups just off the bottom or they can even be chopped and mixed with other baits to make a baiting mixture.
If you buy shelf-life boilies and look after them properly, they can last a long time without going off so buying a large bag can be cost effective to last you a good few fishing sessions.
Boiles are generally hard-wearing underwater due to their hard exterior and should stay on a hair rig for long periods of time so you can be sure you’re fishing effectively if your rig is left in the water for long periods.
Sweetcorn is another extremely popular bait for carp fishing in spring.
Carp are attracted to sweetcorn in the water column due it’s sweet aroma and bright colour that will stand out against the more natural colours at the bottom of the water.
Sweeetcorn is also naturally full of amino acids and the addition of salt and sugars in tinned variety are great for dissipating in the water and bringing the carp in from surrounding areas.
There’s not going to be many local shops that don’t stock sweetcorn which is always relatively cheap, so the availability is definitely a strong point of using sweetcorn.
Just like boilies, sweetcorn is a versatile bait that can be used in a variety of different rigs and baiting mixtures.
Another bait that is great for spring fishing is using pellets. Pellets are made from a blend of ingredients that include proteins, carbohydrates, oils and other essential nutrients that the carp need to replenish energy after long winters.
Like boilies and sweetcorn, pellets are also versatile and large pellets can be used as hookbaits on hair rigs or mixed in with baiting mixture and micro pellets are also commonly used for moulding around method feeders.
Pellets will also last for long periods of time between sessions if looked after and stored properly in air tight bags and out of direct sunlight.
The blend of ingredients used in pellets is great for attracting and holding carp to feed but unfortunately, they go soft when exposed to water for a while so be wary when using them as hookbaits.
They can be great when you’re getting quick bites, but if you plan on leaving your rig out for a while, then boilies may be a better choice to ensure the bait stays on your rig.
Rigs for Spring Carp
Selecting a rig for spring carp fishing does not need to be complicated, and generally speaking, all well-placed and presented rigs will catch spring carp in the spring if the conditions suit.
You spend a bit of time analysing the conditions and observing the water to try to pinpoint where the carp may be feeding, as there is no point in fishing a bottom rig if you can see a lot of carp swimming on the surface, for example.
As the carp are going to be feeding more heavily after their winter of less energy expenditure, you should fish with a rig that you feel confident in, but I’ll give a few examples of popular spring rigs below.
The chod rig is a versatile rig that is designed to be fished over nearly any area of the lake, whether it be over blanket weed, deep silt and even over snags.
The chod rig is designed with a lead and a sliding pop-up boilie rig that will slide your line and settle on top of any snags, weeds or other debris.
The chod rig is often thought to be a fish anywhere rig in the way that you don’t need to worry too much about the bottom composition and how the rig is presented once cast.
This can be great if you’re unsure what the bottom is like or you want to fish over or in some light weed where the carp can commonly be found.
PVA Bag Rigs
PVA bag rigs are another great way of fishing for carp in spring. These rigs are usually tied as a simple lead rig that can be tied with Ronnie Rigs, Multi-rigs or even just a bog standard pre-tied hair, should work just fine.
Once the basic rig is tied, a filled PVA bag of carp baits, such as boilies or pellets can be attached to the hook and then cast into your swim.
As the rig settles on the bottom, the PVA will start to disintegrate and leave your handful of free carp bait with your hook bait presented within.
This is a bottom rig that is best fished over clear or light silt but can also be fished up close to features if your casting is accurate.
Targetting carp in the spring can be extremely productive as the fish start to become more active with water temperatures rising and their metabolisms increasing.
They will spend a lot more time looking for food and once they’ve found it will commonly hold in the area consuming a lot of bait or food to boost their energy levels and pack on some weight after the winter.
Knowing where to locate these spring carp is the first step in learning how to fish for carp in winter, followed by selecting the right bait and rig.
This guide should provide a good starting point on how you can catch some carp this spring.
I hope you’ve found this helpful.