Carp fishing in France

The weather at Smallwater carp lakes

And how the weather can affect carp fishing.

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To give you a good idea of the normal weather here in the South west of France, the average summer is hotter than you could ever expect in the UK.  For many weeks in the summer the temperature can reach well over 100 įf and can be hotter than many parts of Spain!

We do get a slighltly higher rainfall than many places and this is apparent when you see how green this area is. In general you would expect March to see most of the days in the seventies with odd days of rain. The temperature can drop a little and then rise again within a day or so.

The months of April and May can see some very hard rain from time to time mostly associated with Thunder storms but this is usually over in a few hours. Holiday makers still go back with a tan as the temperatures by now are usually in the eighties and nineties.

The months of June, July & August are usually very hot and sunny with the odd thunderstorm, usually at night and quite often without rain! Some days can be extremely hot but the evenings always feel  pleasantly mild after such a hot day in the later part of the year.

The months of September and October are superb months with the leaves changing colour and the weather generally still very warm.

In this part of the world spring is generally a month earlier than the UK and autumn a month or two later.

You will still get many days of unbroken sunshine in November with temperature up to 70 degrees f, although the nights will be cooler.

December, January and February are on the whole a lot milder than in the UK. For the last ten years we have been to the beach on Christmas day and it has been great weather, usually around 60 degrees fahrenheit or more.

 

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Weather conditions and carp fishing

Weíve all experienced the way the weather can suddenly change when fishing for carp. Some times itís too hot and the fish can be seen under the surface but just wonít feed. Then some times itís windy with overcast skies and seems like perfect conditions but thereís no sign of the carp! Sometimes itís hard to know when itís the best weather to fish for carp.

The weather influences temperature, wind direction and strength, air pressure and oxygen concentrations within the water. These conditions affect the location, as well as how, and when carp feed. A sudden change in the weather can change normal feeding patterns and cause us to find new areas to target carp.

The wind

One effect of the weather, many carp anglers are already aware of is the wind. Wind direction can have a big impact on where to fish for carp, which peg to choose, and sometimes how far from the bank to fish. You will often hear that a West or South Westerly wind is the ideal wind to fish into, because it often brings in warm air which tends to improve how carp feed. A North or Easterly wind tends to bring in cold air.

Remember the old wifes tale:-

When the wind comes from the West the fish bite best. When winds come from the East the fish bite least!

The strength of the wind is also important. To a degree the stronger the wind, the better the carp seem to feed. The stronger the wind the more food items will be pushed in the direction of the wind. This is one of the reasons why fishing into the wind can be more productive. It has been stated that an undertow current will carry suspended food particles back in the opposite direction. Some feel however, that this will only cause it to travel back a little. Many features within the lake such as weeds, gravel bars, varying depths, etc, will help to hold food items from travelling back with the undertow.

It has also been said that at the windward bank side, a strong wind can push the thermo-cline layer further down towards the bottom. Because carp will often follow the warmer layers of the water, a strong wind helps push more carp to the bottom and therefore closer to the carp anglerís bait.


Temperature

One of the biggest influences for a carp to feed is the warmth of the water. The optimum water temperature for feeding is around seven degrees centigrade. The more the water temperature drops below this level the more they tend to slow down and prefer to shoal up in warmer areas or any thermal layers present in the water. For this reason location of the carp is probably the most important part when fishing for carp in the cold.

The temperature of the air and the water will have a major impact on the location and the way carp are feeding. Air temperature will have an eventual effect on the water temperature, so for this reason they are related to some degree and can affect how the carp will behave. If the weather suddenly goes cold it does not necessarily mean the water temperature will drop instantly. The air temperature will often have to stabilise and remain cold for a few days in order for it to go through the entire depth of water. Therefore, the deeper a lake the more time it takes to change the water temperature.

Carp love to be warm so they will usually seek out the warmer layers of the lake. Thermal layers will be present in most lakes, especially the deeper lakes with high water volume. The depth of these thermal layers will vary depending on the depth of the water and the temperature of the air. Shallow water pools may be devoid of its thermal layer, but if it receives direct sunlight it will warm up much more quickly than the other parts of the lake. So on a cold winters morning carp often head for shallow areas that receive more direct sunlight, even if there are thermal layers deeper within the lake.


Air Pressure

Air pressure is another important point worth considering when thinking about fishing for carp. The air pressure will ultimately affect the levels of oxygen in the water. Carp need oxygen to function properly, including searching for food. If the water oxygen levels are low the carp will tend to become sluggish and lazy, itís like they can't get enough energy to feed. High pressure usually means a warm spell which doesnít replace enough oxygen that is being used up by fish, plants, etc. Low pressure often means wind and rain, which will oxygenate the water. This is why itís much better to fish for carp on days when air pressure is low.

The air pressure will ultimately affect the depth at which the carp will be. It has been stated by a famous carp angler, that generally in high pressure, carp tend to be higher up in the water, and low down on the bottom during periods of low pressure. This is an interesting point as it gives us a general idea about location, usually we try to locate the area of carp before choosing a peg, but many carp anglers donít think about locating the depth of water where the carp may be holding up. Lots of carp anglers will use bottom baits on a hot summerís day when the pressure is very high, then wonder why they arenít catching. At a push they may use one rod for surface baits. In this situation it is usually a better tactic to use two rods on zig rigs at varying depths and the last on the surface. If we can understand why carp are located in different areas then we can adapt our tactics to achieve a much better catch rate which will probably result in catching some of the bigger carp sooner rather than later.

 

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