I was out carp fishing today with Jeff Allard, another RI CAG member. We fished one of the small ponds at Roger Williams Park, one of my favorite late season/early season spots. Just days ago this place was covered in ice so the water was cold, 40 degreess according to my water thermometer. However, there were still fish to be had as evidenced by the picture that goes with this article.
Carp still do hit in cold water but realize that their metabolism slows down greatly as the water temperatures drop. There will be fewer hits, and when you do get hits there will be lots of bangs on the rod tip with few screaming runs as the fish tend to nonagressively play with the bait. If you hook a fish, expect the fight to be a sluggish battle. So, things do slow down in the cold, but they don't stop.
Here are just a few tips that may lead to some success with cold water carpin. Go small with the bait. If you use method balls, go small. Possibly go with only one or two kernels of corn on the hair rig if you fish with boiled field corn, or you might even try going with small and tender sweet corn kernels. Go back to doughballs. While bluegills and horned pout picked it apart a month ago, these pests are dormant right now. Try to find places where people are feeding bread to ducks. Carp just love doughballs; it truly is the universal carp bait. Try to fish the warmest part of the day. Noon to dusk is prime time now, especially on a sunny day. I also like to fish small, shallow ponds or shallow areas in big ponds like an shallow underwater sandbar. These places tend to warm up faster and the carp are seeking the warmest waters at this time. Carp also tend to pack up in the cold, so look for spots that have a track record of giving up decent numbers of fish at this time.
Overall, expect to catch fewer carp at this time, but still expect to catch some.