The Carp Guide

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The carp (Cyprinus carpio) (common carp) gives its name to a whole family of fish (cyprinids). This illustrates its historical importance. Thus the carp came to us 2000 years ago via the Danube and has been found in almost every river and lake for a long time. The carp is one of the most popular angling fish in Germany and is also important as a food fish.

Table of Contents Forms of the CarpNo real carpDanger of confusionWorld records and maximum sizeDistribution and originLawning seasonSafety periodsBehaviour and natural foodBaits for carpFishing for carp and Fishing techniquesFishing gear for carpCarp in aquacultureSustainability of carpCarp for human consumptionCarp and mould

Forms of carp

Due to centuries of breeding there are forms of carp in addition to the original form, the wild carp many breeding forms. Reasons were above all faith and morality, because the breeding was mainly driven by monks. So it was considered immoral if the food stuck out beyond the edge of the plate. But in order to have as much fish on the plate as possible, the carp were bred in a more and more high-backed way.    Of course, one should not forget the Japanese Koi carp, which were bred in different colours. This is a list of the carp shapes:

  • Wild Carp
  • Scaled Carp
  • Leather Carp
  • Mirror Carp
  • Leather Carp
  • Koi carp

As all fish belong to the same species and can produce fertile offspring, there are also various intermediate and mixed forms of the above mentioned manifestations.

Not real carp

Even if they have the carp in their name, the marble carp, the grass carp and the silver carp are not real carp and belong to different families. Nevertheless, these fish are also interesting from an angling point of view because they are strong fighters. In Asia these fish are very popular food fish because of their strong own taste and are partly regarded as a delicacy.      Therefore, the fish are often kept and bred in extensive to semi-intensive aquaculture. A reproduction in captivity is well possible and established. However, the fish are often unaccustomed to the typical European taste.

Risk of confusion

Risk of confusion of carp is mainly with crucian carp, gables also bream are not unlike carp.    But the easiest and clearest distinguishing feature are the missing barbels

World records and maximum size

The official IGFA world record is a 34.35 kg carp. Unofficial records are however higher at around 40 kg . Such fish become approx. 110 cm long and are then usually over 20 years old.

Distribution and origin

Carps are found almost worldwide in temperate to subtropical regions. They tolerate water temperatures of 3-35 °C, the optimum being 20-25 °C. The original origin of carp is China, Japan, Central Asia up to the Black Sea. In Germany it is represented in all river systems and almost all lakes.

Spawning time

The spawning time of carp in Europe is temperature dependent and typically takes place at temperatures of 18-23 °C. Carps prefer to lay their spawn on water plants in shallow water areas or in flooded areas. In warm areas of Asia, on the other hand, the trigger for the spawning season is an increase in the conductance in the water. This increases when many dissolved particles are flushed into the water during the rainy season.    Carps in the subtropics can spawn even three times a year.

Closed seasons

Please always note that often for individual waters different sizes and possibly a closed season may apply. As a rule, this is noted on the permit for the respective waters.

Conduct and natural food

Carps often swim large sections of water in small shoals in search of food.    With their barbels they perceive very well what is edible for them. So the carp is also, even if it is more of a peaceful fish, rather opportunistic and sometimes does not even stop at small fish. But the most common food are mussels, snails and other small animals as well as small crustaceans. Even fruits that have fallen into the water are sometimes taken. In general, the behaviour of the animals and especially the feeding time varies from water body to water body.    Often the fish are also nocturnal and feed mainly at night. In general, the early mornings and evenings are the best time to fish for carp, especially in summer.

When the sun is shining more intensely, you can often see the warmth-loving animals basking on the surface at midday. Then you can often only lure them with swimming bread.

Carps are considered to be very smart fish and are able to learn from negative experiences with anglers.    Koi

Carps in ponds can also be tamed by hand and eat out of the hand

Carp baits

Besides the classics corn, dough, bread and potatoes there are a lot of special carp baits available nowadays including the very popular boilies and pellets. With these boilies and pellets you can selectively catch carp in appropriate sizes. Carps can also be caught on maggots and worms, even if these are not the best baits.

Fishing for carp and fishing techniques

Modern carp fishing is highly specialized and is usually done with self-hooking with a short leader and a fixed lead weighing at least 80 grams. The lure is mounted on a so-called hair, which protrudes from the hook. This ensures a reliable hook of the lure in the front part of the carp mouth.

Other possibilities are also the classic basic lead with barrel mounting, feed basket mounting and the new and very effective method feeder.    Fishing with floating bread on the surface is also effective, especially in summer. Pose mountings also work on carp even today. Especially in summer, the lure does not even have to lie on the bottom, but can be offered in mid-water if the lake is not too deep (under 3 m).

Fishing tackle for carp

For carp fishing we recommend slightly stronger bottom or pose rods with a casting weight of 40-80 grams. Targeted carp fishing is usually done with special carp rods.      These usually have a parabolic action and the casting weight or bending curve is given in lbs. More about this topic is linked in the article in the preview picture.

Freewheel reels have established themselves as fishing reels for carp fishing. Again I already have a lot of information and recommendations on the website.      If you want to know more click on the preview picture.

Freewheel reels current recommendations in the overview

Carps in aquaculture

Carps are also kept and bred in pond farms in Germany. Especially in the Aischgrund, Upper Lusatia and near Bautzen there are traditional farms. Classic in some regions is the Christmas or New Year’s Eve carp as a festive dish.

Compared to the worldwide production, however, that in Germany and the neighbouring countries is very low.    4.3 million tons of carp are produced annually worldwide. The other frequently bred species are not included.

Sustainability of carp

Carps are the most sustainable among the fish from pond farms in Germany. On the one hand, a highly intensive culture is not common and thus the impact on the environment is also low. On the other hand, carp are also adapted to vegetable food with their digestion. Therefore carp are also fed feed with a very high percentage of vegetable raw materials.

Carps as food fish

Carps are very good food fish in the kitchen with a relatively high fat content for freshwater fish. Therefore they are also excellent for smoking or even grilling. The fact that the taste of the carp separates the spirits mostly has to do with which water they come from. More about this in the next paragraph.

Carp and musty taste

Unfortunately the taste of carp from different waters is not very consistent.    There are many waters where carp taste musty, especially in summer. On the other hand, there are also waters in which carp do not have a musty taste even in summer and in others carp taste terrible even in winter.

The taste comes partly from blue-green algae, but also from suspended matter and the composition of the mud in the water.    The rule that carp should only be eaten in months with R has something to do with the algae blooms, but in practice it is not generally valid.

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