For years I was taught that carp were a fish that no real anglers ever targeted. As I have recently come to find out, those other anglers must have been keeping carp fishing a big secret.
Carp are a great target species. Read along for the best carp fishing tips on how to catch carp and get into chasing giant carp on your next fishing adventure.
Like any type of freshwater fishing, planning to pursue a specific fish species is an important step for success. With so many different carp swimming in our waterways, it can be tough to identify them all.
Here are some things to look for when identifying the carp in your local fishing hole so that you have a better chance of catching one the next time you go out.
How to Setup for Carp Fishing (& Rig Setups)
The rod you choose for carp fishing will vary based on the location you are fishing and the size of a carp you plan to target. For common carp fishing, long casts are unnecessary, as the fish feed close to shore. A 5-7 foot rod will work fine. The rod will need to have enough backbone to reel in the fish, so a medium or heavy class is preferred.
Carp put up a fight when they are hooked. Having a strong rod is great, but only if it is paired with a strong reel. Aim for using a size 35 and larger casting reel, or baitcasting reel for carp. An ordinary bass fishing rig will not suffice for these giant fighters.
Carp baits are simple and effective. The trusty standby baits are sweet corn or bread. Some people use worms or dog food, but I wouldn't unless you do not have access to canned sweet corn. Fishing with the corn is easy.
You thread the kernels onto your hook, cast out with a split shot or sinker attached for some weight, and the bite will happen sooner than later. Carp baiting tips for using bread are the same. Ball up a slice of bread, your hook goes through that, and you're all rigged!
Where to Find Carp (3 Main Habitats)
1. Catching Carp in Ponds
Pond carp fishing tips are slim because ponds are the easiest places to catch a carp. When fishing in a pond, look for structures or weeds that would hold any fish. Using corn or bread is still the gold standard as far as bait goes. The key in a pond is to stalk the shoreline looking out in front of you to find the carp before setting up. Once you see the carp, you can then cast beyond them and wait for the strike.
2. Catching Carp in Rivers
Hold on tight! River carp are most often the largest and strongest you will face. The general method of catching these monsters is the same, but the rigging is just supersized. My tips on catching carp in a river are as follows. Size up everything. This means a longer rod, close to 10 feet if you have space. Use a baitcasting reel so that the fish can run without snapping your line, which should be a 30-50 pound braid. Lastly, use a sinker or weight that is heavy enough to hold your bait in the current. These fish will be positioned in deeper, slow-moving sections of the river, so start there!
3. Catching Carp in Lakes
How do you catch carp in a lake? You need to look for structure and weeds first. Because carp like warm water and feed on small prey, you will most likely find them swimming near weeds or bushes along the shore. Cast out beyond the structure or weeds so that you do not get tangled, but close enough so that the carp can see your bait from the cover. If you are fishing from a boat, target underwater weed line edges and position your bait the same way. Carp have excellent eyesight, so keep your bait small and use a black or camouflage hook
How to Catch Carp (Beginner Fishing Tips)
1. Find the Perfect Location
The key to catching any fish is to find the fish first! Whether you are patrolling the bank of a pond or river, using your polarized sunglasses to spot the fish, or using a fish finder on your boat. The key is to find the best places to hide and feed if you were a carp. That is where you will want to set up for the best chances of success
2. Choose the Right Bait
We have talked about bait over and over again. It is crucial to choose the right bait so that you are attracting the fish, not just fishing near them. With carp being very attracted to sweet corn and bread, there are not many more tips for catching a carp with bait. This is a case of not reinventing the wheel. If sweet corn works, use it!
3. Set Up Your Rod & Reel
Choosing the rod and reel is easy, but sometimes you can lose fish based on how you set up the combo. For river fishing especially, you will want to use a baitcaster with the drag set but the bail open.
This allows the fish to take line without resistance and be more thoroughly hooked. You engage the drag with the first revolution of the handle and begin the fight on your terms.
4. Avoid Shiny Hooks
This is one of the major tips for catching carp! Because these fish have great eyesight, they will spot a shiny hook in a heartbeat. Using camouflaged or dark-colored hooks will undoubtedly increase your chances of hooking a keen fish.
5. Use a Rod Pod
Rod pods are great for keeping your rod stationary and preventing the bait from bouncing around on the bottom. Carp will be wary of a moving bait, so using a rod pod to hold your rod still will increase your odds of tricking the fish into biting your baits.
6. Chum the Water
When you hit the store for the sweet corn you intend to use for bait, a great tip for catching carp is to pick up a few extra cans. Throwing some extra corn in the water near where you are fishing is sure to bring good luck to your spot.
Think of this as feeding fish in an aquarium; they all flock to the area where the food is. As long as your hook is baited amongst the chum, you should do just fine.
7. Try Bow Fishing
An exciting and fun way to target carp is to try bow fishing. This tactic utilizes archery hunting gear to target large carp swimming in the shallows. By boat, by wading, or by the shoreline, bow fishing requires specific skills to take monster carp.
The angler needs to accommodate the optical illusion to hit the fish, which can prove difficult for even the most seasoned participants. The tip for bow fishing for carp is to shoot under where you see the fish to overcome the light refraction of the water's surface.
Seasonal Carp Fishing Tips
Carp Summer Fishing
Summer fishing for carp is the most fruitful season. The fish have finished their spawn and are feeding aggressively along structure and weed beds in the shallows.
The tips for fishing in summer are primarily what we have discussed throughout this article, as it is the main fishing season for this species of fish.
Night fishing for carp in the summer is one of the most fun activities for getting out of the house to fish without dealing with the blazing heat and sun.
Carp Spring Fishing
Springtime means the fish are back to feeding heavily after a slow winter. My tips for catching carp in the spring would be to increase the size of your bait because the fish are looking to eat larger meals this time of the year.
Fish where creeks or streams enter larger bodies of water because carp will be waiting at the mouths of these areas hoping to get an easy snack. Lastly, look for the warm water where the sun has heated stones or gravel. Those areas will be the first to show signs of life and feeding fish in the spring.
Carp Winter Fishing
Carp feed sparsely during the cold winter months. The best tips I can give for winter fishing for carp are to downsize everything. Use small natural baits like maggots or worms for this season.
The fish will be feeding near reeds or shore structure on any small organism that they can find, so matching the hatch will be the best chance for hooking a carp.
Carp Fall Fishing
Temperatures begin to drop, leaves begin to fall, and the carp have become huge from feeding all summer! The fall is a great time to get out and fish for some carp.
They will be looking to find their winter homes, so fishing around brush, weeds, or downed trees will be beneficial. When it rains in the fall, bugs and forage are swept into streams and lakes, attracting carp from other areas to these washout areas. Set up here with your rod pod and wait for the action to come to you!
People also Ask (FAQs)
Can you use a hair rig for carp fishing?
Hair rigs are great for river carp fishing but unnecessary on ponds. Because carp are moving faster in rivers, they sometimes hit baits quickly without giving you enough time to set the hook. Hair rigs are great because the carp set the hook on themselves.
Can grass carp be found in Florida?
Yes, these carp can be found in Florida because the state introduced them to eliminate some aquatic grasses that were growing out of control. Catching grass carp in Florida, along with bow fishing for grass carp around the state, has become quite popular.
Can you catch spawning carp?
It is nearly impossible to catch carp when they are spawning. Like most other fish, the spawn keeps the carp from focussing on food and more on reproduction. Spend this time of the year fishing for other freshwater fish!
Carp fishing is so much fun. It is a great species to target if you want to relax and wait on the bite, rather than casting like crazy to find a bass or pike.
The fights are enormous, and there is nothing better than taking that grip and grin photo after landing a fish that weighs double digits.
Don’t forget that people all over the world eat carp too. Filleting one one could be a tall task, but ultimately rewarding.