Crazy for Carp?

Mention “carp” to a lot of American anglers, and you’ll get reactions like, “yuck,” or “trash fish.”

But believe it or not, carp are the number one, most sought after “sport fish” in the world. More money is spent on tackle for carp than on any other species. International tournament carp fishing is big business, and yet most of us wouldn’t bother to cast at a carp if it swam right into range.

Why is that? Because we don’t think of carp as a “good eating fish?” Ironically, carp were brought to the United States in the late 1800s specifically for table fare purposes (they are originally from the Caspian Sea region). They were shipped by rail and planted in spots throughout the country in an era when lack of refrigeration meant fish sources had to be close to the markets.

The beauty of carp, back then and still today, is that they are some of the toughest fish on the planet. They can live in cold water, in warm water, dirty water, still water, moving water… you name it. And not only are carp rugged survivors, they’re pretty cunning as well, and hard to catch.

Which is why, believe it or not, “carp craziness” is catching on throughout the country. Fly anglers find casting to carp a challenging experience (they call it poor man’s bonefishing). Bait fishers will sometimes stay on a single spot for days on end, trying to attract the bite of a 30-pound (or bigger) monster. In fact, I know some fishermen who have given up on bass, or traded in their dainty trout flies… all for the love of carp.

I’m not suggesting that anyone go that far. But I am saying that you might want to try carp fishing. Use bait (there are carp-specific baits, but a can of corn will do), or use flies. Whatever your fancy, chasing carp will indeed make you a better all-around angler.

And where to go? Well that’s the beauty. Odds are, no matter where you are reading this, you’re within a short drive to some water that has carp in it. If you’re looking for a fishing opportunity that’s within reach, well, carp fishing is a safe bet.

But finding carp, and hooking them are two different things entirely…

You Might Also Like

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream, and he co-wrote The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing with the late Charlie Meyers.