European carp have a bad wrap in this country, and there are good reasons for that. Since their introduction to Australian waterways in the 1960s, their numbers have exploded and this has had lasting ecological effects. The name European carp is actually a misnomer, given that they are actually native to Asia. They were introduced centuries ago to Europe as a food source, but in that time have gathered a following of highly specialised bait anglers, who spend thousands of pounds and euro to fool these fish. This activity is known as coarse fishing. In Australia, the same appreciation is non-existent, but the simple fact that they are a great sportfish that grows big and fights hard shouldn’t be ignored.
Catching carp on bait is a fantastic way to enjoy a few hours fishing, and even better way to get kids into fishing. By landing a few carp and disposing them away from the water, anglers can scratch the itch and do their bit for the environment at the same time, so it’s a win-win situation!
The thing to remember with carp is that they are generalist feeders, happy to snaffle most small edible offerings that come their way. Anything from aquatic insects, small crustaceans, baitfish and even berries are on the menu for a hungry carp. There are a few baits that outshine others, with some notable favourites being garden worms, maggots, dough, and even corn kernels!
Rigs don’t need to be complicated, with light paternoster rigs, simple float rigs or a running ball sinker rig all perfectly suitable for the humble carp.
Small hooks between size 2-6 are preferred for this relatively small-mouthed forager, with Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks, Mustad Octopus Hooks and Black Magic KS Hooks being popular. If fishing with a float rig, suspending your bait under a Jarvis Walker Bobber Float will comfortably keep your offering off the bottom if that’s your plan.
Fishing for carp is not complicated, and setting yourself up in a calm section of the river, lake or pond is a good tactic. With carp being nomadic foragers, if you soak your bait for long enough the carp should turn up eventually. Be sure to keep your baits fairly small, and watch your rod tip for the tell tale ‘mouthing’ of the bait that carp are known for. It may take a bit of biting before the carp commits, but once it does, gently setting the hook should see you connected to a rampaging mud marlin!
Carp are clean fighters, but they pull hard and can make long runs. Once caught, they are a relatively easy fish to handle, as they don’t have any teeth of nasty spikes. State regulation varies as to what you are required to do with your carp, but it is recommended strongly that you dispatch your carp and dispose of them away from the water, or in any provided fish disposal bins close by.
If you want to relax by the water between a few intense fishy fights, or get the kids used to fighting bigger fish, carp should be in your sights. They are available all year (with summer being a peak time) and there are plenty of them to go around!
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