Night fishing for carp can be a great experience. A chance to be out under the stars and hopefully bag a carp in the late night hours.
Getting the most out of your overnighters is all about being prepared. This means having the right equipment equipment and fishing smart. Get everything right though, and the rewards are there to be had, particularly if the fish in your venue switch on after dark!
Planning your first night fishing trip? Here are our 7 best tips for when you’re night fishing for carp.
Choose the right swim
It’s common for carp to move to a specific area of the lake at night after spending the whole day milling around.
If you’re fishing an overnighter, you need to know where these hot spots are. As a result, you’ll be able position yourself for the hours of darkness.
Keep an eye on the fish over the course of your sessions, and make a note of where they are being caught from at night. Subsequently, you’ll begin to build up a pattern of the fishes behaviour and pinpoint the better swims for catching carp at night.
This is paramount if you’re someone who does work overnighters. You’re often working against the fading light and doing your usual hour or two fish spotting isn’t really an option! If you know the general zone they head to at night, you’ll be one step ahead.
Preparation is paramount when it comes to a successful night fishing trip. The more organised you are, the more fish you’ll put on the bank. It’s as simple as that.
The last thing you want is to be rummaging around messy bags in the dark, tying up rigs and solid bags after just catching. Everything becomes ten times harder in the dark!
Try to keep all of your essentials to hand, and get prepared ahead of darkness where you can. Have rigs, leaders and PVA bags all ready to go as a minimum. Doing so will help you get your rods out much faster and hopefully put another carp on the bank.
Personally I use a Trakker Bucket with an integrated bits tray, which allows me to keep everything in one place and close to hand. In one side I’ve got all of my baiting tools, and in the other I’ve got made up solid bags and pots of hookbaits. It’s taken my organisation on the bank to a new level.
Remember your far bank markers
An easy one to forget, but one that can really mess with your head after darkness. When you find that perfect spot in the day, be sure to remember and note down your far bank marker.
I always add it in my phone along with a photo of the far bank which just makes things a little easier, particularly if you’ve been moving the rods around.
If you’re fishing three on the spot, things do become a little easier as you have your other lines to guide you slightly on where to cast. It can be difficult to get a decent view of your rods tips at night though. A good tip though is to pull your pod/buzz bars further back in the swim so you can easily see the line exiting your rod tips. (Took this one from Tom Maker!).
Bait little and often
There seems to be an obsession amongst anglers to spomb the lake to death at the start of an overnight session, before identifying if the carp are up for it or not. This can work against you in a few ways:
- It will decrease the likelihood of a carp picking up your hookbait. Even more so if there are not large groups of fish in front of you.
- You may already be fishing over an existing bed of bait from previous anglers.
- You will feel less inclined to move onto showing fish if you’ve just spombed 50 quids worth of boilie into your swim.
That’s why in my opinion, baiting little and often should always be the go to tactic. Get a feel for how the fish in front of you are responding and top up your swim after each fish.
Spombing at night can be an accurate baiting method too. Just remember to clip up at the right distance and use your far bank marker for guidance.
Be ready to move
Don’t feel like just because you’ve set up for the night, that you have to stay in your chosen swim. Remember, it’s fishing, not camping! If during the night you realise that the fish are not in front of you, it pays to be prepared to move.
Don’t be afraid to reel the rods in and go looking for them.
Whist it may seen like a lot of effort, in half an hour you can be completely packed up and have the rods on showing fish in another swim. A couple of hours in the right spot is better than 24 hours in the wrong swim, and you’ll feel an immense sense of achievement if you put the effort in.
This also ties in with being prepared. I always try to keep my things neat and packed away when I’m set up in a swim. Doing so will make sure that you can throw everything on the barrow quickly and be on the move.
Listen for showing carp
Just because the light has faded, doesn’t mean that you can’t still find the carp. It’s not uncommon for them to start showing after dark, even after a day of little activity.
For that reason, it always pays to keep the noise down and your ears on the lake! Sounds seem to be exaggerated in the dark and you’ll quickly begin to know the unmissable sound of a carp boshing. As we’ve previously mentioned, if things are going quiet in your swim, don’t hesitate to go for a midnight walk and find the fish.
And if you’re turning up in the dark, do a lap and listen out for signs of carp giving their positions away. When carp fishing from October onwards, this is often the only way of finding carp.
Stay warm and comfortable
Night fishing can quickly become a horrible experience if you’re not prepared for the elements. You need to stay warm and comfortable if you’re to fish at the best of your ability.
Even the warmest of summer days can lead to cold nights, so it pays to to be prepared. A good set of carp fishing boots is a must, as are multiple layers of clothing. Take spares too, in case you have to go for a swim or the heavens open whilst you’re playing a fish.
Personally, I go for a layered approach when it comes to choosing my carp clothing. I just feel like this gives you more options to add and remove layers according to the weather. There’s no chance of overheating or getting cold this way.
I’ve had the massive two-piece thermal suits in the past which are very popular. They’re not bad for when you’re stationary in your swim. However, wear them for pushing your carp barrow around the lake and you’ll be sweating in no time.
The last thing you want to be doing is sweating in a massive two-piece suit as it can quickly become very cold when your activity levels drop.
My winter carp clothing
The following layers work for me throughout the year. Fully thermal and waterproof to help withstand any weather during a trip night fishing for carp. Easily enough to whip off a layer or two when setting up or pushing the carp barrow too.
- Base layer bottoms and top
- Thick, fleece lined joggers
- Midweight fleece
- Snugpak softie jacket
- Aqua Torrent F12 Waterproof trousers and jacket (not the thermal version)
Night Fishing for Carp FAQs
What bait to use for night fishing for carp?
From my experience, there aren’t any baits that work particularly better than others when carp fishing at night. Just have confidence in what has worked for you in the past.
One of the only times I would urge you to change your hookbaits for night fishing is if there are crayfish present. Obviously during the night you don’t have as much opportunity to recast, so I would move to plastic hookbaits in this case. The last thing you want is to reel in your three rods in the morning without a single hookbait on!
Should I fish open water for carp at night?
You should fish where the carp are most active. If they are active in the open water, then you should definitely aim to fish for them there. A common question is do carp venture into open water at night? This really depends on a lake-by-lake basis.
The aim of the game is to learn as much about the habits of the carp in your lake so that you can adapt accordingly. Just be wary of times when you’re fishing close to snags at night and make sure that you are fully prepared and can safely land the carp.
What do you need for carp night fishing?
You will need a few extra items to ensure a successful night fishing trip. This is in addition to your usual carp fishing setup.
- Carp bedchair
- Carp bivvy
- Sleeping bag (plus cover for the winter months)
- Fishing head torch
- Bivvy lite (I use the RidgeMonkey Multi Lite Plus)
- Warm clothing
- Cooking equipment
- Plenty of food and water to keep you going
How long retaining carp at night?
You should only retain carp if absolutely necessary. If you do, it should be in a purpose-built retaining carp weigh sling. Personally, I don’t retain carp for the purpose of photography, it’s just not worth the hassle and stress on the fish. A good flash is all you need to get a decent night time catch shot.
However, if you do see the need to retain a carp, it should be done for as little time as possible, and you should aim to get the carp out of the retainer and weighed/photographed at first light.
About the writer
I’m Rob, Carp Squad’s main contributor. I’ve been carp fishing on and off for 15 years, but the bug is well and truly back at the moment. Hopefully the articles I write on here help you put more carp on the bank!