Winter Fishing at Cosgrove

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Winter is normally a very quiet time on the park for fishing with very few residents prepared to come down and have a go fearing the fishing will be difficult and not worth the effort of sitting out in the cold, but nothing could be further from the truth provided you prepare for the cold and sometimes wet weather. I have fished the lakes during the winter for years now and to be honest it has provided me with some top sport for a lot of different species.

Below are my top 5 tips for fishing at this demanding time of the year.

A beautiful 18lb common carp (one of 5) taken just last week from The Residents Lake!

Tip 1

Personal welfare is one of the most important factors to enjoying winter sport. Whatever the fishing is like if you are cold or wet you will not enjoy yourself and will probably put your rods away until the spring next year!

Winter clothing is all about layers that trap warm air between them. 

Base Layer - I always wear 'Sub Zero 1' thermal long sleeved shirts and 'long johns', these are not only warm next to the skin but also 'wick' away any sweat.

Mid Layer - I wear a 'Sub Zero 2' light fleece layer or a long sleeved Norwegian army shirt. Over this I wear a pair of hard wearing trousers and a fleece 'pull over'. This is the gear I would wear to travel in the car to the park or whatever venue I'm fishing.

Outer Layer - Once fishing I will have on a pair of waterproof 'Salopette' (Bib & Brace) leggings and my fishing jacket that is not only wind/waterproof but if its really cold has an extra fleece inside for extra warm.

Feet, head and hands - Feet are probably the hardest part of the body to keep warm, traditional Wellingtons are about the worst footwear for getting cold feet, avoid them! On most occasions I wear my Danner boots the are an Army/Police style boot but when it turns really cold I wear 'Skeetex' boots that are a bit clumpy but are thermal lined and warm. I always wear a fleece beanie hat on my 'bonce' and if its very cold I wear a pair of neoprene gloves that the fingers fold back so I can still bait up etc.

Make sure you take plenty of hot drinks and food, these will keep you warm on the inside. A flask and sandwiches are OK, but obviously if you have access to your caravan skies the limit with hot food etc.

One last little tip is to make use of your fishing umbrella or shelter to get out of the wind, it make such a difference.

This is my normal winter clothing for a day on the bank

Tip 2

Try fishing for different species other than carp. As mentioned in last months blog the pike fishing can be excellent as can be fishing for roach, perch and bream. These species tend to be a little more tolerant of really cold weather than the carp and tench. Of course even during the winter you can float fish or use pole tactics but often ledger or feeder tactics are more productive.

In the last few years I have found maggots and maggot feeders to be very successful. I initially used maggot hook baits (usually red) and maggot feeders when I was targeting roach but found I was getting 'pestered' by the carp lol, but these were great sport on my feeder gear. 

There are all sorts of different rigs to use with a maggot feeder but in recent winters I've had great success with a 'helicopter' style bolt rig. This is a self hooking rig with a short 3" to 4" hook link fished above the feeder. It casts superbly and fish tend to hook themselves against the heavy maggot feeder. I use 18, 16 or 14 hooks depending on the number of maggots and use 4lb to 6lb fluorocarbon hook lengths as its stiffer and eliminates tangles. One novel twist I use with this rig is a 15lb flouro rig body/leader that is really heavy and helps conceals the rig by keeping the line pinned to the bottom. 

My 'Helicopter' style maggot feeder rig for targeting roach, bream and perch (and tench in the summer)

A truly stunning 2lb 2oz roach I took 2 weeks ago using the rig above with red maggots 

Tip 3

Keep you eye on the weather! The weather has a massive effect on the Park's winter fishing. Most of the lakes on the park are fairly shallow in the 5 to 7 feet deep range and this makes them respond very quickly to changes in the weather and particularly to changes in water temperature. If we are lucky enough to see some low air pressure conditions that brings with it mild south westerly winds then the fishing can be really very good. On the other hand if we get very cold easterly or north-easterly winds these conditions can kill the fishing for weeks on end! High air pressure can mean clear skies and often very cold frosty nights but provided the lakes are not frozen over I have had some quite good sport.

Tip 4

Location, location, location!

Locating the fish is even more important during the winter than at any other time of the year. The fish are not spread evenly around the lake and can in fact be balled up all together in just one area. Often its in or near the deepest part of the lake and this is often out towards the middle. Without any other indications I always fish fairly well out during the winter, having said this keep your eyes open! The fish will and often do respond to any variations in conditions. They will happily mooch into shallower water for a feed given a chance.

Tip 5

For those anglers that love their carp fishing don't hang your rods up for the winter! The park is still open even though during 'office hours'. Depending on the weather conditions this often corresponds to best times to fish anyway and just one nice carp has got to be worth a dabble!

As stated above I always have a least one rod out in the middle of the lake but keep your eyes peeled as my park PB of 31lb came a couple of years ago in freezing late November conditions. The low sun was shining on the far margin area of the lake and I thought I saw a carp roll (it could have been a Canada goose) in that area. It was normally a shallow summer swim but I whacked a pop-up boilie on a 'chod rig' across and 30 minutes later the lump  picked up the bait and 'tootled off'.

This 30 proves fishing during the winter is worth the effort

My three most favourite tactics for carp fishing during the winter are - solid pva bags, high attract pop-ups fished as singles (with no other freebies) and zig rigs!

A 2 or 3oz inline with a 6" braided hook link is perfect for bag fishing

Start by filling the pva bag with a pellet/boilie crumb mix, then put in your hook bait and more of the mix, followed by the lead

Then tie the bag up as tightly as possible, I prefer to use 12lb nylon to tie the top of the bag. Lick and stick the corners in and cut off the excess

The finished bag is now rock hard and ready to cast. For an extra edge I inject the bag with hemp oil or a squirt of Korda Goo

The 'Ronnie Rig' my current favourite rig for presenting a pop-up especially as a single

During winter the carp are not usually right on the bottom and often spend hours and even days sitting in mid-water. These fish are catchable with the use of a Zig Rig. You have to have faith in the tactic but there are days especially in calm 'high pressure' weather conditions that a 'mid water' set zig using my favourite yellow, black or white coloured Fox Zig Aligner's can be deadly.

A stunning late December '21' taken on a 3' Zig and a white foam hook bait 

I hope you found this blog interesting and has given you the incentive to visit the park and have a fish even when the weather is cold!

If you have any questions on this subject or any photos of your catches please contact us on -

Tight lines - Gary S

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Venetian Marina Whilton Caravan Storage Whilton Marina
Cosgrove Park. Main Street, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes, MK19 7JP.
Phone: 01908 563360 Fax: 01908 263615