CARP (Cyprinus Carpio)
Carp are one of the most under appreciated species of fish in British Columbia. Carp were originally brought over from Asia and introduced in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Carp are a delicacy in Asia and Europe, however North Americans do not quite see Carp as good table fair due to the prejudice that they are bottom feeders, however this does not take away from their amazing fighting capabilities. They are a great sport fish to target, while spear-fishing and bow fishing for carp is growing in popularity. Carp adapt to many different environments which allow them to be versatile and survive in many urban waterways.
There are three Carp subspecies that can be found across North America:
- Carpio Communis – “Scale Carp” with concentrically arranged scales
- Carpio Specularis – “Mirror Carp” with extra large scales running down the center, while the rest of the body is naked.
- Carpio Coriaceus – “ Leather Carp” with a few or no scales on the back, with a thick soft skin almost like velvet to the touch.
THE BEST TIME AND PLACES TO FISH CARP
When it comes to time or place to fish for carp, you can target these fish all year long. The best times to fish carp is when the water temperature reaches 65 degrees. Carp become very active as early as April when they are spawning. You may see large splashes and jumps. These fish are not in the feeding mode and will not bite. During spawning it is almost impossible to get them to feed. However during early in the spring season, they will readily take flies or baits.
Carp are schooling fish and can be found in many different types of waters, from rivers, lakes, estuaries, canals and sloughs. Normally found in groups of 5 or 6, they range from 5-20lbs on average. one of the most common areas for carp are shallow waterways such as small ponds and brackish waters. Carp can survive and tolerate very poor water quality which allows them to thrive in urban waterways, pollution doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects on these fish. Carp can also thrive in muddy waterways with very low oxygen. Look for places with rich sediment, usually muddy or shallow waters with high heavily weeded banks with slow moving water. However do not overlook clear waterways as carp also thrive in these warmer crystal clear lakes or streams as well.
Carp can be caught throughout the day on cooler days, while warmer weather days provide good fishing in the morning and afternoon. In winter time, carps prefer deeper waters. The best time to begin targeting them is late April to early May. While, again carp will hold in deeper waters from June to August, while feeding and fattening up actively from September to early October
Carp feed on a wide range of food. Their diet mainly consists of food that is laying near or close to the ground from aquatic insects, mollusks, larvae, crustaceans and soft vegetation. Carp also enjoy human delicacies such as corn, bread, seeds and grains
TIPS TO CATCH CARP
Carp can be caught on a multitude of different baits from bread, corn, beans and dough balls to worms and flies. Keep in mind that a carp’s mouth and barbels is very sensitive and able to detect a hook, so make sure that you size down your gear.
European carp fishing consists of chumming the water, however keep in mind that it is illegal to chum in British Columbia. Instead use scented baits. Remember that carp fishing is all about patience and finesse. Carps are one of the most easily spooked fish and will spit your bait and take off in a flurry if they sense if anything is off.
Common methods of carp fishing include float fishing with a light weight bobber with a couple split shots. Allow the fish to fully commit to your bait before setting the hook, as carp like to suck in and spit out the bait in order to investigate before committing. Therefore setting the hook too early will result in pulling the bait out of the carps mouth.
Another effective method is bottom fishing for carp, sinkers should only be used sparingly and only if the weight of the bait is not sufficient to keep it along the bottom. If necessary, use split shots or a egg sliding weight rig with a stopper from stopping the weight from touching the bait.
Using a baitcasting or spincasting reel spooled with clear mono or fluorocarbon, as braided will be visible to carp. Allow your reel to have a loose drag so that there is minimal resistance when the carp takes the bait. Use hooks in the size 6 or 8 range. As carp can reach excess of 50+lbs, you will want to use line test in the ranges of 10-30lbs depending on the size of fish in your local waterways.
Due to their cautious feeding behavior, keen eyesight and sense of smell, carp are considered one of the most elusive fish to catch. However, once hooked, carps are one of the most fantastic fighters. Be prepared to tighten your drag and expect large explosive runs.
Carp are one of the most under appreciated fish in our waterways, therefore have not been a target for heavy fishing pressure. Therefore targeting carp in British Columbia’s waterways can yield extremely surprising results.
Average sizes: between 3-20lbs with some exceeding 60lbs with lengths up to 50”
Habitat and temperature: Carp live in lakes or rivers, preferring areas with warm fast water or slow or stagnant waterways with sandy or muddy bottom. Prefer waters between 3°C and 35°C. Carp can thrive and tolerate polluted waterways with no adverse effects.
Biology: Adult carp spawn in Spring around April, while northern hemisphere fish spawn around May and June. Females lay over 300,000 eggs in shallow submerged vegetation.