By Darl Black
The Sweet Success of Carp Fishing –
All you need to know to have a blast fishing for carp!
Given the widespread distribution of carp across the United States, you may be surprised to learn that carp are not native but were purposely introduced in the mid-1800s – believe it or not – as a food fish. They found North American waters to their liking, and spread rapidly to lakes and rivers throughout the States.
Carp Are Not
What You Think
While many US fishermen will tell you carp are an unworthy trash fish, don’t believe them. And you may not be impressed by the fact that in Europe, carp rank third among all sport fishes – surpassed only by Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. However, regardless which side of the Atlantic carp are found, these muscular heavyweights are exceptional fighters when hooked, making powerful long runs. And, you can eat ’em!
How Carp Feed
Adult carp are omnivorous, consuming varying amounts of plant roots, algae, crustaceans and insect life. They generally feed on the bottom by sucking up quantities of silt, then spitting it back out after selecting the food items. Studies have shown carp can discriminate between salty, bitter and sweet substances. In-the-know anglers fool their quarry by creating bait concoctions that focus on carp’s well-developed senses of smell and taste. As carp approach a possible meal, their highly developed taste buds in the skin of the snout, mouth, lips and throat make the call whether to inhale the bait or refuse it.
Three Ways to Use Carp Bait
Since mature carp are extremely wary, anglers create innovative bait presentations to capture the largest specimens among the population. Rigs and baits employed by serious European carp anglers who target big fish in small lakes are complex – more sophisticated than the simple baits generally needed by American anglers where angling pressure on carp is considerably less.
1. Consider the bait concoction of Jeremy Fardoe, a transplanted Brit I met on a lake near my home a couple summers ago. “Garlic and kippers with a touch of honey,” Fardoe told me after landing his second big carp of the morning. “Carp are real gourmets. You’ve got to be creative, catering to their sense of smell and taste in order to catch the big ones. I am constantly tweaking my boilie recipes to entice carp.”
2. On the other hand all-American angler Dale Black, a 10-year veteran of carp fishing, has a slightly different opinion. “There are few fishing venues in the United States where carp are as heavily pressured by anglers as they have been in Europe for all these years. Sure, complex bait concoctions will catch American carp, but you really don’t need to go that route unless you are fishing in a competition and need that special edge.
“Like many Americans citizens, carp prefer sweet things,” says Black. “Dough baits made with vanilla or fruit flavors – especially strawberry – are still extremely effective. All the ingredients you need for making dough bait can be obtained at your local grocery store. Carp also love sweet corn. I use canned corn 80% of the time because it is convenient, inexpensive and available at any grocery store. I also use canned corn to chum the area I plan to fish.”
3. Chumming is a critical aspect of successful carp fishing, helping to draw numbers of carp to the location of your hook bait. Anglers often pre-bait the site they plan to fish at least 24 hours ahead of time using boiled fermented field corn mixed with fruit flavors. Or on the day you fish, you can lay down a small chum field with a spod, a device attached to the line to dump groundbait at the exact location of your hook bait. (Groundbait is the European term for chum.)
Tackle for Carp
Hardcore American carpers are quick to point out particular European tackle innovations which have had a very positive impact on the North American scene. These include specially designed 10- to 12-foot rods with power for long distance casting of heavy sinkers; rod pods which support multiple rods in the fishing position on any bank surface from mud to asphalt; electronic bite indicators which alert the angler to the slightest line movement; and of course the hair rig.
A hair is a small loop of braided line wrapped to the shank of a #6 or #4 x-strong carp hook. Instead of impaling the bait (especially semi-hard boilies) on the hook, the bait is attached to the hair by means of a baiting needle; the hook remains completely exposed. Since carp vacuum the bottom when feeding, the bait on the hair and the hook are sucked up together. As the carp’s movement triggers the bite alarm, the ‘clean hook’ increases the likelihood of achieving a positive hook-up.
Now just kick back and wait for a bite.
A lifelong freshwater angler and veteran writer and photographer, Darl tackles a wide variety of fishing related stories for print publications and websites. Of all fishing, angling for smallmouth bass is his favorite pastime. He may be reached for assignment at firstname.lastname@example.org.[hs_action id=”7720″]
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