It is difficult to catch carp during the winter because the fish's metabolism slows down considerably when the water is cold. The fish tend to stay in one place most of the time and feed very little. It is possible to catch the big ones using the right bait and a lot of patience. To find where the fish are gathered, many anglers spread bait rather than concentrate free feedings.
It doesn't take much bait to catch carp in the winter. Boiled baits with spice seem to attract the slow-moving carp. Fish-attracting oils won't work as well in the winter months, because the oil thickens and can even become solid in the cold water. Oils are less soluble in cold water, so dry spices may be the better choice for winter fishing. Many anglers mix dried and powdered spices with a boiled bait to entice the carp in cold waters. Peppermint and vanilla added to bait also attract carp.
Carp leave the deep water where they gather during the nights to feed shallow waters, usually under 4 feet deep. According to the AnglersNet website, a successful winter bait that works in the more shallow waters is a mixture of sweetcorn and curry. Mix one can of whole kernel corn with curry powder in a plastic container and cover. Allow the curry powder to soak into the kernels for about 12 hours or until each kernel has absorbed enough curry powder to turn orange. The bait may be in the water for several hours before the fish are attracted and start to feed, so make sure that the curry is completely absorbed. A couple of kernels attached to a hair rig should attract the fish.
Natural Feeding Flavors
Some anglers find greater success by fishing with bait flavoured to approximate the foods that carp find naturally. Because mussels and crayfish are active during winter months, carp feed on them. The movement and flavour of live maggots are also attractive to carp. Carp are scavengers and often feed on dead and decaying food. Decaying bits of fish added to boiled bait or offered as small free feeding can arouse the carp to feed.
Because the flavour of the bait slowly dilutes into cold water, many anglers use taste enhancers when winter fishing for carp. Carp can be stimulated to feed by the pungent flavours of peppers like black pepper, cayenne and chilli pepper. Liver powder, liquefied liver and yeast extracts increase the solubility of boiled baits and stimulate the fish to feed. Carp seem to be especially attracted to bait that has been sweetened. Sweeteners that often work are aspartame, natural fructose, liquorice extract and molasses. Chocolate malt and the alkaloids found in coffee and Parmesan cheese mixed with boiled bait can stimulate carp to start feeding in cold waters. Alcohol is also highly soluble in cold waters. As such, alcohol can send a feeding signal to the sluggish carp when added to bait.