Disclosure: This website contains links to products sold by affiliate companies.
If you decide to purchase a product, I may receive a small commission. The decision to purchase is entirely yours.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Carp Bank Sticks and Bite Indicators

It started a couple years ago when I posted a photo on a carp fishing forum and I continue to be amazed by it. The level of concern and criticism I have received for daring to place my bite indicator forward of the alarm has been surprising.

I have had many hours on the bank to contemplate the positive and negative benefits of both near side or far side placements, but I am not convinced it makes a difference.

The argument made by detractors is that drop back bites are not detected with the bite indicator forward of the alarm. Someone forgot to tell the small mouth and big mouth buffalo I've caught on drop backs, because I have caught my share through the years.

Additionally, I have fished a few times with a popular tournament winner who uses his alarms in the same method.

So, I guess the conclusion I've reached is that if it helps people feel better to criticize my preferred bait indicator placement - more power to them. Meanwhile, I'll just keep fishing.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Catching Michigan Catfish

Catfish are sometimes a nuisance when fishing for carp. The photos above show some of the larger Mr. Whiskers I have landed in Michigan.

Ninety-five percent of the time I fish with 3 pieces of corn on a hair rig fished with packbait and bolt-rig. It catches carp effectively and also attracts catfish occassionally. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Edit Carp Photos Easily

I use Snapseed to easily edit my carp photos.

The screen shot below demonstrates the quickest way to improve carp photos by using the "curve" adjustment tool in the Snapseed app.

Tip: Start at the upper right or lower left of the photo and make small adjustments.

I also use the "heal" functionality to remove identifying background items that may reveal key details about the fishing location. But I mostly just take the photos facing away from the water, which takes care of that issue right up front.

Friday, October 23, 2020

People I Meet Carp Fishing

This post marks the beginning of a new feature here on the Michigan Carp Fishing blog. It's going to be a running post providing some details and insight into people I meet while carp fishing.

There's something about fishing, which brings out the friendly in people. From casual passersby who ask the obvious "Have you caught anything today?" to comments about the carp fishing tackle and gear I use like "You sure have a positive attitude based on the size of the net and rods you're using."

I've met some characters along the way. Some I'd like to forget and some I just can't.

I meet a lot of people walking their dogs. At Lake Erie a gentleman stopped by to inquire about whether I had caught any fish. During the course of our conversation he shared that he retired from several jobs and one paid a low $59.00 a month pension. He took social security at 64 1/2. His wife died a few years ago. Now it's just him and his little dog navigating the days trying to cure boredom by taking short trips out of the house when the weather is good. The little dog reminds me a lot of "Snoopy", which was one of my favorite cartoon characters as a 7 or 8 year old. At 91, the gentleman is  driving himself, living alone, fishing regularly and spending a lot of time boating on Lake Erie when his son has the time to take him along.

Then there was the time I met a guy 6'5" who caught a sturgeon 7' long on a 8' medium action catfish rod 6' from the fishing pier at John Dingell Park in Ecorse. A couple of other guys in the park that day helped him unhook the fish and take a few pictures. And before you chalk that description up to a "fish story" I will add that he had the pictures to prove it. He was laying beside the sturgeon and it was indeed longer than he was tall! They returned it to the water as quickly as possible, but I can't imagine the effort it took to pull the 150# fish out of the water up onto the walkway. They assured me that the fish swam away with no issues, but it's really too bad they couldn't have let the fish remain in the water while they snapped a couple of pictures and finished removing the hook. If you happen to catch a sturgeon someday, please treat it with care. A fish of that size is likely several decades old!

Jehovah Witnesses have approached me countless times to invite me to services.

A financial services salesman representing Michigan Education Association (MEA) spent 45 minutes talking mutual funds, pension benefits and long term insurance options.

A couple of summers ago while fishing in Trenton, a 20-something young man from the local neighborhood stopped by on his bicycle to check-in. Over the course of the next couple of hours he filled us in on the details of his "love life" and described some of the bullying he received. That was a first for me, fishing or not fishing. I'll try to be a better listener if there is ever a next time. 

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I eat the carp I catch, I could take my wife out to dinner and a movie two or three times. And the looks I get when answering no are really something to see. Most people can't understand why I fish for something I have no intention of eating. What can I say? I'm a catch, photo and release fisherman.

I have encountered countless Ford retirees, contractors and vendors. One of them who lives in Melvindale paddled his kayak down the Rouge River, down the Detroit River and along the shoreline of Lake Erie to Cleveland on a week's vacation trip a couple years ago. He said he camped on the shoreline a few nights along the way.

I made friends with an 87 year old at the Rouge River who depends on catching catfish for a large number of his meals throughout the year. He worked 19 years at two different companies and they alternated between layoffs, rehiring and part time work so that he would not become eligible for pension benefits at either company. He lives on $753 a month from Social Security and proceeds from metal scraps he is able to scavenge and sell for cash. We have provided him at least 100 pounds of catfish in the past 3 years. It's not a lot, but it helps out.

In Toledo I met a father catching minnows and shiners for flathead bait as he prepared for a 72 hour catfish marathon. I talked to a gentleman who worked 23 years at Chrysler who stopped by to check out the fishing on the Maumee during his vacation day. And I met a husband and wife team who caught 75 pounds of catfish in 6 hours for a family fish fry back in Michigan.

On a cold spring day at Lake Erie in March a lady stopped by my spot for a visit, but I quickly learned she had more on her mind than fishing. After a few minutes she peeked her head around the corner of the Sportbrella and was greeted by my smiling wife. Busted! 

I'm always a little surprised when others fishing nearby ask to borrow a net to land their fish. It's a pretty prevalent occurrence when river fishing from a pier or raised walkway. Of course, I am always willing to oblige the requests. But I would offer a tip that fishing a venue that provides an opportunity to hook fish greater that 3 or 4 pounds regularly suggests that a net is necessary for proper fish care.

Several years ago while fishing a very popular lake spot close to home, I ran into a first class selfish dude that ended up being the most rude fisherman (or non-fisherman) I have ever encountered. They were a pair of fishing bullies. I happened to be set up in his personal favorite spot. Unfortunately he and his friend didn't arrive until 11 o'clock. By that time I had been there fishing for 4 1/2 hours. One of the pair decided to cast a line over two of my lines. A tangle ensued and an awkward period of untangling the lines followed. A few minutes later he re-casted and in the process haphazardly "tripped over" and kicked my rods that are sitting on rod holders about 10' apart. I began to get the message at that point - he's decided I MUST leave. Since they had a 2-to-1 advantage I had to give in, but it still does not sit well with me to this day. Sadly, the days of sportsmanship and fair play are declining.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Carp Release Videos

Catching carp and releasing them to be caught again someday - catch and release - is becoming more popular. In my opinion, carp are an under appreciated sport fish in the United States.

This is especially important for trophy sized carp greater than 25 pounds. For most people, a fish of that size is a catch of their lifetime.

Carp fishing makes it possible on a regular basis.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Want to Be Featured on the Michigan Carp Blog?

My goal for this Michigan carp blog website is to promote carp fishing in Michigan. I share personal carp fishing experiences, pictures, tips and strategies I have implemented and learned.

If you would like to have your photos featured on the carp fishing site and be a part of promoting successful fishing experiences in Michigan leave me a comment below.

I will be happy to link back to your blog, website, Facebook, Instagram or other social media pages.

My vision for these profile features include these topics and more:

  • How long have you been carping?
  • How did you become interested?
  • Favorite reel
  • Favorite rod
  • Favorite line
  • Favorite bait
  • Favorite place to fish
  • How did you get started?
  • What is your personal best common?
  • What is your personal best mirror?
  • A few of your favorite carp photos 
  • Advice for new carp fishermen
  • How do you find new fishing spots?
  • And whatever else you want to share

I hope to hear from you and share your Michigan carp story.

Creating a community of carp fishermen helps all participants catch more fish. It also helps encourage more people to take up the sport. This will help gain the attention of the DNR to consider placing limits on the trophy sized fish that bow fishermen indiscriminately kill each year, similar to what was accomplished in Connecticut. It also supports the established carp equipment vendors in the U.S. The goal is to create an environment where the sport is better organized in Michigan, so that everyone wins.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Trio of Carp Catches

I caught a three common carp today. Windy conditions made it a tough go all around. 

The clouds really affect the bite sometimes too in this swim. Almost every time the sun peered around the clouds after noon, I got runs. The wind made it next to impossible to keep a tight line with the waves.

I have really grown to like these types of days though. They build confidence. A few years ago I would have avoided fishing in bad conditions, but it allows you more space and the parks completely to yourself, which is a big bonus. When it's bad and you catch, the catches mean so much more.

The last 2 fish were caught with completely slack lines in what had to be 25 mph winds, or more at times. 

This swim is full of weed beds that add to the challenge, making it even harder to cast past them in the wind.

When fishing in high winds, I think it's best to attempt to position yourself with the wind at your back.

If that is not possible, then I prefer to cast directly into the wind. This can be challenging. If you normally fish close to the bank casting 3 oz. lead and 5 oz. (or more) of pack bait into a heavy wind at distance isn't easy. It takes a well rehearsed technique.

If neither positions are possible, then I try to cast at an angle into the wind as much as I can. This helps, but there will still likely be a bow in the line. It's not perfect, but you can still catch. It's a matter of confidence. Fishing in poor conditions helps hone valuable carp fishing skills.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Catching Catfish with Carp Gear

Fishing for catfish is popular in America. Just about anywhere you look where people are fishing on a regular basis, you will find people targeting catfish. 

You can use almost any type of gear to catch catfish including carp fishing gear. There are very few manufacturers making dedicated catfish equipment, but with the popularity of carp fishing in Europe and many other parts of the world, carp gear is readily available from online vendors. It's a great alternative if you decide to target catfish specifically on a regular basis.

If you are starting out, sticking to the basics works well.

Here's a nice, basic catfish setup:

  • Baitrunner reel (Daiwa, Shimano, Okuma)
  • Medium action rod (7' to 9')
  • Gamakatzu hooks
  • 15# monofilament / 50# braided fishing line
  • Swivels, leads
  • Coleman folding chair 
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • A tub of red wigglers or nightcrawlers
  • A quality net with a sturdy frame

There isn't really specific catfish gear that is more prevalent than others.

Dick's Sporting Goods carriers an Ugly Stik Spinning Combo that would be a nice starter rod and reel kit.

You can make a few adjustments to baits, hooks and technique to target carp as well. Imagine a 30# trophy sized carp in the landing net. It's the catch of a lifetime for most anglers.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Fishing for Catfish: Channels, Flatheads and Blues

I don't specifically target catfish while fishing, but they are often a by-product of my carp fishing quest along with small and big mouth buffalo. 

More people certainly fish for catfish than carp. It's perfectly understandable too. Catfish are generally considered more edible than carp. They do sell catfish in some of the most popular chain restaurants in the country. I have never heard of a restaurant selling carp.

I'm not a catfish expert, but I do know that catfish will bite traditional carp baits like corn and boilies. Observing some of the catfish specimen specialist fishermen locally, I've noticed that most use night crawlers, shiners, minnows, and cut bait. Good ole nightcrawlers seem to bring in most of the fish, but I have not tested effectiveness for any of those baits personally. Maybe I should.

We have an acquaintance locally that we sometimes share our catfish catches with. Recently, my friend delivered 25 pounds of channel and flatheads to him. He is an elderly man that we met while fishing. After getting to know him, we learned that he relies on catfish for a primary food source in spring, summer and fall. Catching catfish for him takes on a special meaning. The difference between catching and not catching equates to food or no food on some days. It really puts things in perspective. 

Catch and release works for me, but I do like catfish. It's one of my favorite things to eat when we visit Cracker Barrel. I prefer farm raised to fish exposed to some of the harsh chemicals residing at the bottom of our local rivers in the sediment where Mr. Whiskers gets many of his food sources. I've been told that the chemical build up in the smaller fish is much less than in these larger 9 and 10 pounders in these photos, but then again, as you can tell from my physique I am not dependent on catfish for lunch and dinner.

If someone reading this post has more expertise catching catfish than I do and want to share an article here, I'd be happy to link back to your website and/or YouTube videos.

At the current time, I couldn't begin to tell you difference between a channel, flathead, bull head or blue catfish, but my understanding is that blues are highly sought after by catfish specimen anglers. 

Maybe I'll spend the offseason this winter brushing up on my catfish fishing game and even target them in the future. Based on some In Fishermen articles I've read over the years, I do know that targeting them is easier from a boat, but targeting them from shore is doable. I am not sure how doable it is to catch 20+ pound catfish from shore here in Michigan, but I am open to learning more if you have catfish expertise.

Popularity of Bass, Catfish and Carp Fishing

I see various social media posts from time to time questioning the lack of respect carp fishing receives as compared to other forms of fishing like bass and catfish.

Growing up in a state with a plethora of professional bass fishermen, I sat next to a future Bassmasters Classic champion in high school history class.

I knew bass fishing was popular and only started carp fishing seriously 6 years ago. But for those who haven't researched just how much more popular bass and catfish are compared to carp, here's a graphic that may help courtesy of NeilPatel.com.

Bass fishing is 10 times more popular in web searches than carp. Catfish are 7 times more popular than carp for web searches. 

Carp vendors focusing on carp products alone are facing some high hurdles. Money for promoting carp fishing pales in comparison to bass and catfish which both have professional tournament series.

How do we change it?

  • Talk to people about carp fishing
  • Let a passer by reel in a carp
  • Let a kid take a photo holding a carp
  • Be an ambassador for carp fishing
  • Take a kid carp fishing
  • Invite a friend to go carp fishing
  • Invite a bass fisherman to go carp fishing
  • Invite a catfish fisherman to go carp fishing
  • Be a good steward of the shoreline, pier, park
  • Don't leave personal trash on the bank
  • Use good fish care when sharing pictures
  • Post photos on your social media pages
  • Don't refer to carp as "trash" fish
  • Don't apologize for catching carp
  • Be a proud carp fisherman 
  • Talk about carp fishing with confidence

11 Steps to Start Carp Fishing

Even if you've never fished before, you can learn how to fish for carp and get started carp fishing with a few simple steps. I will teach you how to catch carp with corn in a pond, lake or river.

Carp Fishing Tackle

1. Buy a fishing rod

An inexpensive medium action rod of 8' to 9' will be affordable to get you started. A few ideas to help you research include these possibilities:
  • Ugly Stik GX2
  • Whuppin' Stick (I have 2 of these myself that I use as "travel rods")

2. Buy a fishing reel

You use almost any reel and make it work by loosening the drag, but for beginners a baitrunner reel will be highly desired. Some potential choices:
  • Okuma ABF-55 (I started with 3 of these myself)
  • Penn Fierce II
  • Daiwa Regal
There are other choices that will work just fine. Almost any 5000 - 8000 series reel will work. 

3. Buy fishing line

Monofilament is inexpensive to get started (15# test), but braided fish line works better for me (50# PowerPro). With less "stretch" braided line provides more control once you hook a carp.

4. Buy the required hooks, swivels, leads

A size 4, 6 or 8 hook will work, but if putting the corn directly on the hook size 2 or 4 is likely a little better. I use a size 8 swivel rated at 20 pounds or better. A "bolt rig" is great, but you can use a regular "smooth" or "flat" lead with some bread molded around it and tuck the hook lightly in the bread making it easier to cast. 

I prefer an inline lead. Fox brand makes leads that are available online. Sizes from 3 oz to 5 oz will provide for waters ranging from calm lakes to flowing rivers.

5. Buy a suitable landing net

You need to get a net capable of landing a 15 pound or larger fish and hoisting it up without breaking. I recommend a flat bottom Ranger brand net with rubber coating (available at some Dick's Sporting Goods stores). My favorite is a Tournament Series muskie net with the 84" telescoping handle. Big nylon nets are cheap, but will cause more harm to fish. Focus on a rubber coated net with a smaller opening in the webbing no larger than 3/4".

6. Use a yoga mat or old pillow stuffed in a trash bag to lay the fish on for unhooking

When you get more serious you can buy a padded landing mat from an online carp tackle vendor for $25 - $35 that works well.

Carp Fishing Bait

7. Buy a can of corn and a baiting needle

You can put kernels of canned corn directly on the hook and catch fish, but learning to tie a "hair rig" is fairly easy and very effective. You can improvise instead of using a baiting needle with various crafting or needlepoint items. A baiting needle will save you a lot of frustration.

Boiling "field corn" aka "deer corn" and flavoring with salt, cayenne, anise or vanilla is a step up from canned corn and field corn stays on the hair rig or hook easier. There are also commercial flavored baits available online such as those offered by Trilogy Carp Baits and a few others.

Use a pot big enough to make chili in. Fill it 1/2 full of field corn and the rest with water. Add some salt. Add some cayenne if desired. Cook on medium low heat until the corn puffs up. Check for tenderness and continue cooking, adding small amounts of water until tender. It's truly easy as heating water. I mix this corn in my pack bait.

Or, you can also try to make homemade boilies.

8. Buy some panko bread crumbs or oatmeal

I like to buy this in bulk at Gordon Food Store near my house. You can get 3 pound bags off the shelf or order 25 pound bags for bulk purchases. I usually by 50 pounds at a time (2 bags). I use this as a base in my pack bait (aka ground bait). 

You will need a wetting agent like syrup or cream corn. I prefer cream corn from Aldi. The cheaper the price, the better.

9. Mix in some boiled bird seed

I usually buy this at Wal-Mart in 10 pound bags. Boil it on the stove top in a pot until it expands and softens up. Store the boiled bird seed in resealable bags and place in the refrigerator.

10. Use some deer attractant powder or peanut suet

This is a "secret" tip that I've giving you as a reward for reading my blog and taking an interest in carp fishing. A little goes along way, so you can use a cup or less of each. It will also help "bind" the pack bait better.

Carp Fishing Rigs

11. Learn to tie a knotless knot aka "hair rig".

YouTube is a good place to learn how to tie a hair rig for carp fishing. You can make it complicated or keep it simple. I prefer to use my main line braid for my hair rigs also, but you can also use different rig tying materials or shrink wrap to make the rig stiffer and help prevent tangles when casting.

North American Carp Angler has some knot tieing tips from time to time in the magazine as well.


This shopping list may sound a little "pricey". But taking into consideration the savings you get from bank fishing as compared to fishing from a boat, it's really a nice bargain. 

By learning to fish for carp, you can save $80,000 right out of the gate. A new bass boat runs $30,000 more and add another $50,000 for a new tow vehicle. And that's before you put any fuel in the boat or the truck!

As an alternative to buying new gear, consider shopping around at yard sales or borrow from a friend to "try before you buy," and save money.

You can get started with a little or a lot of money. It's up to you.

(I also wrote a How to Catch Carp blog post you may enjoy.)

Disclosure: This post contains links to products sold by affiliate companies. If you decide to purchase a product, I may receive a small commission. The decision to purchase is entirely yours.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Fall Carp Fishing in Michigan

I fished for 7 1/2 hours today, but could have probably still been catching as I write this if I wasn't fishing alone.

This spot has a huge weed bed that runs from about 20 feet to 150 feet off shore. You have to cast out past the weeds and then fight the fish through the very thick weeds. It's a good workout. Of course you end up losing about 30% of the fish.

In the past I've pulled 25# and 31# carp from this spot including another 7 or 8 #'s of weeds.

I managed to land 10 fish (the most ever from here) ranging from about 3 pounds up to 20 pounds (18 pounds was the next largest). But perhaps best of all I landed a nice little mirror. It's my first mirror from here.

The bigger fish seem to head elsewhere in the afternoons, so it pays to be on your game from the jump. There is heavy, heavy boat traffic here in the traditional boating months. It's a spot I only fish a couple times a year if it's raining or too cold for comfortable boating.

It's also a good spot for blanking.

This session is a great example of the need to be prepared when you go carp fishing. You really need to be on your game to consistently land carp. It can make the difference between a great, enjoyable day and a day filled with frustration.

Recasting quickly can increase your catch rate dramatically. At one point the action was so fast that I literally couldn't keep rods in the water.  Fish move in shoals, so if you catch one there are likely others nearby.

You need a process for landing the fish, capturing the photo, releasing the fish and recasting without wasting time or energy. Doing this when fishing solo takes some pre-planning and preparation. Taking the time to do it can help you catch many more carp throughout the year. If you catch 200 carp and being organized helps improve your results by a 10% rate, that's 20 more chances to land your new personal best. 

Carp or Catfish Fishing Reel at Good Price

I have been looking for good prices on fishing reels, recently ran across a series of reels and found an extremely good value reel for carp fishing. 

Product Features

  • 17 pounds of drag pressure
  • CNC Aluminum High Strength Spool
  • 5.0:1 High-Speed Gear Ratio Provides Quicker Retrieves
  • CNC  Machined Aluminum Handle - Left/Right Interchangeable
  • Graphite Body
  • Graphite Rotor

I ordered the 7000 series of this reel today, so I should get it by this time next week. This may turn out to be one of the better reels for carp or catfish available.

Stay tuned for a detailed review once I have a chance to test it.

Disclosure: This post contains links to products sold by affiliate companies. If you decide to purchase a product, I may receive a small commission. The decision to purchase is entirely yours.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

2nd Carp Fishing Trip to New River Spot

This time of year I schedule vacation time on Fridays to take advantage of the carp fishing conditions. The cool weather seems to spur the carp to "put on the feed". As the natural food sources begin to decrease, the carp seem to be more willing to feed on baits provided by fishermen.

This spot has only yielded 2 carp (and 7 catfish) so far, but this 19 pounder was a welcome addition to the tally.

I pixelated the background on this picture out of courtesy to a fellow fisherman. It's a spot I scouted 4 years ago with Linda while we were traveling, but never got around to fishing. I mentioned it to a friend last year, who fished it in October 2019. He absolutely killed it there with numerous fish greater than 20 pounds and a couple over 30 pounds. 

For the investigative types reading this post wondering where it is, I can tell you it's not the Rouge, Detroit or Raisin rivers that I have frequented in the past.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

New River, New Carp Swim

Today I fished a new river and new swim for the first time. The fish were stingy with their bites, but I ended up with 3 catfish and a carp; landing one of each.

Here are some pictures:

I caught the catfish on a boilie hookbait and the carp on some flavored corn. The regular ground bait of panko, cream corn, bird seed, field corn, peanut suet and flavors did the trick.