How to identify a Common Carp
This is one of the largest members of the minnow family and a close relative of the goldfish, with which it hybridizes freely in nature. The carp’s closest look-alikes may be the bigmouth and smallmouth buffalos, which despite their resemblance to the carp, belong to an entirely different family (the sucker family). The carp, the goldfish, and the buffalos all grow fairly large (the goldfish to about 16 inches; the carp and buffalos much larger); all have deep bodies; relatively small, protractile mouths; a forked tail; a single, long dorsal fin on the back; and large scales. The coloration of their bodies is also similar, ranging from olive brown to gold. Still, all these species can be quite easily distinguished. The carp and the goldfish both have a single serrated spine at the beginning of the dorsal and anal fins. All the fins are soft rays on the buffalos, with no spines at all. The carp has two fleshy barbels on each side of the mouth, distinguishing it from the goldfish, which lacks barbels.In Europe, where the carp is highly regarded, farmed, and selectively bred, cultivated carp (referred to as king carp as opposed to wild carp) come in a variety of body shapes and squamation patterns. They may be fully scaled, partially scaled (mirror carp), or completely nude (leather carp). They are still the same species and after a few generations in the wild, will revert to their normal wild form.
Where to catch Common Carp
The carp’s original range was limited to temperate Asia and the rivers of the Black Sea and Aegean basins, notably the Danube in Europe. Today, they are widely distributed in North America below the 50th parallel south to the Florida panhandle. Besides North America, Europe, and Asia, it is also now found in South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish: