With the end of Autumn not far away and the air temperature starting to drop as we move closer to winter, many fair-weather anglers will have already packed up their tackle for winter.
The weather and seasons greatly impact how carp react below the water’s surface and can be a basic indication of how well your carp fishing session will go.
Carp tend not to feed in certain weather conditions but feed heavily in others; with some knowledge of this, you can greatly increase your efficiency.
With each month of the year providing varying weather conditions, everyone want’s to know which month (usually) provides the best conditions for targeting carp.
With December just around the corner, this post will answer your question, “Is December a good month for carp fishing?”.
Is December A Good Month For Carp Fishing?
As far as carp fishing throughout the seasons goes, December is not considered one of the best months for carp fishing.
This is due to how the carp react to falling air temperatures, which slowly start to drop the water temperature around them.
As carp are cold-blooded, their body temperature fluctuates with the water temperature.
Once the water temperature starts to drop considerable (usually into December), the carp’s metabolism will slow considerably. If the water temperature falls below around 3 degrees Celsius, the fish may enter a state of “torpor“.
Torpor is a state of reduced mental and physical activity where they can become near motionless and inactive to conserve energy.
During the winter, natural food sources in the water will be drastically reduced, so the fish will spend far less time on the hunt for food if the water temperatures are above 3 degrees Celsius.
However, experts believe that no matter the conditions during winter that the carp can feed in one small time window every day.
So, although carp fishing in December is not considered the most productive, if you can pinpoint this small time frame of activity and feeding and where exactly the carp are, you can still get some nice fish in the net.
There are also some benefits that come with winter carp fishing; some anglers enjoy the peace on the banks as most anglers pack away their tackle until the better weather returns in spring.
Also, throughout December and the rest of the winter, it can be common for the carp population of a venue to flock to the area of the lake where they feel most comfortable.
This means if you can pinpoint this location and ensure you’re fishing it during a small feeding time window, then you could see some good sport for an hour or two.
So basically, carp fishing is hard in December, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Let’s look at the weather you should look out for to give yourself the best chance of success in December.
Best Weather for December Carp Fishing
Choosing the best weather to fish in December is not an exact science, but there are certain weather parameters that expert carp anglers look out for in the winter to give themselves the best chance of success.
One of the weather parameters that is known to affect how carp behave below the surface is air pressure.
Air pressure is the weight of air pushing down on the ground and is caused by winds far above the ground that pull or push air from the ground.
High-pressure systems generally cause bright and sunny days, and during winter, these are usually the crisp, bright and very cold days.
Low pressure, on the other hand, usually brings milder and overcast days in the winter, and any periods of low pressure in the winter can be great for carp fishing.
This could be because the milder temperatures over a long period should warm the water slightly so that the carp can feel more comfortable to feed and even in the shallows where the water will warm quickest.
Carp fishing is also thought to be better in chances of weather, so any periods where high-pressure systems change to low you could be in with a chance at some more fish.
Light levels are also thought to have an effect on the carp’s behaviour in winter.
December and January can be particularly poor as the sun is low on the horizon and the light levels lower in the water.
Where to Find Carp in December
The shallows are not to be avoided in winter, and during milder spells where the sun can sometimes warm the top few feet of water, the fish can often be found here even in as little as 3ft of water.
Bear in mind that the air temperature will take a lot longer to warm the water, so the water temperature does not consistently fluctuate with the air temperature.
Weeds are also a great place to find carp in winter. These dying weeds can offer some warmth to the fish, and they will also feel safe here, away from angling pressure and are more likely to feed close by.
Also, within the weeds, the wind will not disturb the water much, which is a large factor in how quickly the water will cool, so these areas are commonly slightly warmer and the fish more comfortable.
Overhanging trees and snags are also great places to look for fish during winter.
These are other areas that offer safety to the fish and will naturally hold a little more warmth due to the same reasons stated above.
The wind is another factor you can consider when trying to work out where the carp are hiding during the winter.
This is not an exact science, but often, the carp will gather off the back of cold wind as the cool air isn’t mixing with the water as quickly as the wind blowing towards the bank.
Best Rigs for December Carp Fishing
1. The Zig Rig
The Zig Rig is an excellent tactic for fishing for carp in the cold winter.
The rig presents the bait higher in the water column. It can be deadly on winter carp suspended off the bottom of the water column at different levels, which is a common place to find them in the colder water temperatures.
The zig rig is pretty simple.
It’s essentially a long hook link with a floating or buoyant bait presentation like a pop-up boilie or a piece of foam made to look like larvae or other aquatic insect prey.
Foam usually works better as it holds its buoyancy for a much longer period of time.
Your main line runs to a weight, in this case, we recommend on average a 1 to 1.5-ounce running lead. We also recommend running about a size 8 swivel off of the running lead to your lead line, which should be anywhere from 8 to 10 pounds or monofilament or fluorocarbon line.
You can make the lead line as long as you need, but we recommend not exceeding 10 feet in length, as 10 feet or longer can cause issues in netting or retrieving your hooked fish.
For hooks, use around a size 12 wide gap or kurv shank hook.
2. The Chod Rig
Chod Rigs are great for presenting your bait just above bottom litter and debris, such as leaves of weeds which have been deposited through autumn and winter on the bottom of the water you’re fishing.
Chod rigs can be somewhat tricky to tie, but with a little practice are pretty easy to master.
Most commonly used with a cork ball style pop-up or pop-up boilies, the Chod rig is a single hook rig that is perfect for fishing over a bait spread like boilies on the bottom or simply on its own.
Commonly these rigs are fished using a leadcore leader “helicopter style” with the rig running freely on the lead by using a swivel.
This free-running rig is very effective, with the carp feeling very little to no resistance when it first picks up the bait, giving you a very stealthy presentation. The rig can also be fished “naked” with no leader if desired.
Chod rigs have a much shorter lead line when compared to rigs like the zig rig, only being a few inches in length, just enough to get it up off the bottom a bit, allowing it to not get lost in the debris, but also helping it stand out among the other bait that you might have laying near it.
3. Stiff Hinge Rig
The stiff hinge rig, which was made famous by carp aficionado Terry Hearn, is fairly popular among some carp anglers during the cold winter months but seems to be fairly niche in the carp angling community, with a smaller hardcore following of anglers who swear by its effectiveness.
The rig is fairly simple and comprises two sections: the hook link and the bottom. Whereas other rigs like the spinner rig are fished much closer to the bottom, the stiff hinge rig can be fished anywhere from 1 to 5 inches from the bottom and has more flexibility.
Typically, the boom section is a stiffer material, such as a stranded wire that leads up to the baitlink of 1 to 5 inches in length. But users can also use something a little more on the flexible side such as braided lines, this also allows for the boom to hug the contour of the bottom a bit better if that’s something you desire.
This is a great rig over the spinner rig or other styles of rigs if the bottom makeup is softer or silty, causing the wire section to virtually disappear in the silt and giving a very stealthy presentation.
4. PVA Bag Rig
So far all rigs mentioned in this article keep your bait presentation and varying lengths up and off the bottom of the lake. But that isn’t always necessary, and carp will feed on the bottom in the winter months as well, depending on the conditions and bottom composition, like sandy areas free of debris.
The PVA bag rig is nothing new to carp anglers and is one of the most popular methods by which to fish for carp.
In the winter, we prefer to use smaller PVA bag rigs with small single hooks, using bait such as a single piece of fake corn or a trimmed wafter hookbait, with short rig lengths of no more than 5 or 6 inches.
The hook link is usually braided line, with a leader setup of lead core line at a foot in length.
Once the PVA bag dissolves, you’re left with a small hooked piece of bait amongst your bait pile, giving you a great chance to get it sucked up by a carp, while using the most delicate and stealthy presentation possible.
5. The Mag Aligner
The mag aligner consists of a PVA bag melt of Maggots with a single artificial maggot rigged with a smaller size 8 or so hook.
It’s a simple rig using a larger PVA bag of maggots that canvases the bottom when the bag melts away, with your presentation simply laying amongst the smorgasbord.
This should be rigged with a helicopter style setup, using an inline lead and a large metal ring. Carefully insert the hook point in the bag, ensuring the hook link section is straight, and impossible to tangle and guaranteeing your setup is fish ready every time.
As far as catching plenty of fish, December and other winter months can be a lot more challenging than the warmer months and more specifically, spring and autumn.
As the water temperatures drop, the fish will enter a state of low energy expenditure and usually only feed during one or two small windows throughout the day.
Although December carp fishing will most likely not see you catching bags of carp, it brings its challenges and can help you improve your carp fishing skills with new challenges.
In December, you must locate the fish and try to pinpoint when these small feeding windows are to give yourself the best chance of success.