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Winter Plans: Why 99% of carp anglers never keep to them

Do any carp anglers stick it out all winter?

1. The big plan isn’t quite as robust as you thought…

It’s October. Mild. You and your fishing mates are excitedly pinging winter fishing ideas across a WhatsApp group with an hilarious name (‘Syndi-pendent Women’, probably). And it’s all bullsh*t. Dave isn’t going to bait with 10kg of Tuttis each week till Christmas. Tony won’t be tapping up the local maggot farm for mates’ rates. Because the clocks will go back, the leaves will fall off and there’ll be a lot of sport on telly.

2. Easier waters suddenly become more attractive

Your insistence on sticking to the low-stock pit all winter was well intentioned. The chance of frosty glory was your dangling carrot. But then you see your mates larking about on the local commercial pond, bagging doubles on day sessions and getting home for X-Factor and a takeaway. Then it happens; you feel yourself almost involuntarily using phrases like, ‘yeah, just to get a bend in my rod’ and ‘just to get that confidence back, check my rigs are working, y’know?’.

3. Packing away

Ugh. Just UGH! Removing frozen bivvy pegs with cold hands. Rolling up sodden bivvies that won’t dry out till April. Wheel-spinning your bent, over-laden barrow through claggy mud. Get me in the car. Oh no, I can’t drive off for 20 minutes because every window has misted up.

4. Other species

Blame Instagram for making perch look great. And grayling. And roach. Chub? Yeah, they’re easy to catch for likes and clicks. And before you know it you’ve bought a centrepin or a tiny Japanese lure rod. Or just dug out old photos of you with carp, because every day is #ThrowbackThursday between November and February.

5. Other things are happening

Even summer carping took a hit thanks to the World Cup, so what chance has winter angling got against wall-to-wall football on telly? Or a Christmas pub crawl or three? Or just the pub in general?

6. Your mates drop out

You might not be the first of the group to throw in the towel, but it’s no good being stubborn if everyone around you is dropping like flies. Part of the fun of winter fishing is the camaraderie and gallows humour. It’s nowhere near as enjoyable when you have to go solo.

7. The cold

Summer tricks you into forgetting what it’s like to be cold. Like when you’ve not had a big night out for ages and you just can’t recall the pain of a hangover - until it’s too late. Winter fishing is like that morning after. The shock of that first cold session - that unmistakable tightening of your fingernails as the winds bite - leaves you in a similar position scrunched up in bed.

8. The darkness

Those nights don’t half stretch out in front of you as you switch on your bivvy lamp at 4.30pm. There are only so many brews you can make and only so many apps you can cycle through on your phone before it all becomes a little tedious. At least you don’t live in Norway.

9. Christmas lifts you up and brings you down

Christmas is a cruel temptress when it comes to fishing. Financially it’ll ruin you, physically it’ll give you an extra stone, but you’ll also receive something carp related - an inspiring book, or a new piece of kit - which will re-stoke your fires and make you want to get back out on the bank. And it’ll be cold, and the cycle will continue.

10. To the one-percenters, we salute you!

Winter carp fishing is, of course, glorious in many respects. Quieter banks, big fish, crisp mornings, vivid sunsets. The best way for your winter plan not to fail is to keep it simple - fish when you can, fish when you actually want to and grab those opportunities with both hands. Then, when you achieve something in the colder months, you fully deserve to shout about it.