I have written articles featuring specific hooks, fishing line, fake maize, etc. in the past and plan to get back to doing more of that in the next several weeks and months. I am far from an expert, but I have learned a few things in the past 4 years that helped me and a few others learn to catch more common carp.
|Catch and release carp fishing|
But there are things we can do to help increase the odds. Some are obvious and others not so much. Please don't take this list of carp fishing tips as the "one and only way" to approach the task; and please decide whether it makes sense for your personal situation, but I hope some of my experiences help folks who are new to the pursuit catch a few more fish.
1. Fish in waters that hold carp in larger numbers
You might think this tip is obvious, but I think it bears mentioning. There are likely carp in most every water locally where I live, but some waters hold more of them in total. And in some bodies of water the carp "school" or "shoal" up in common areas in concentrated numbers. So it makes sense for me that when faced with a choice between casting a line in Water A with 15 to 20 carp per acre vs. Water B with 100 to 200 carp per acre (as an example for the sake of demonstration), going with Water B is the simple choice.
- Where can you find this type of information on waters that have a greater density of carp?
Going to a water that you think may hold carp and walking the shore line looking for obvious signs of carp is another good option. It takes more time and effort, but it can pay big dividends in the long run. Finding the places within the lake, creek, river, or reservoir that hold carp will help you decide areas to concentrate on when you come back later to fish those areas.
2. Use bait that has been tested and proven to attract carp
Techniques for catching carp are very different than those used for catching sunfish, bluegill, walleye or bass. Top water buzz and spinner baits won't get the job done. Float fishing with night crawlers might yield an occasional carp, but it won't catch them consistently day-after-day in most waters.
Sweet corn, bread, and boilies have proven successful over the years. And to kick it up a few notches higher, adding sweet flavors to those offerings works even better.
|A productive day|
3. Learn to ties a knotless knot aka "hair rig" to improve the odds of catching carp
While placing sweet corn directly on a hook can work, threading it on a "hair" that floats below the hook works much better. Here's one my favorite videos for "How to Tie A Hair Rig" on YouTube:
4. Use "pack bait" or "ground bait"
Mixing up some bread crumbs, oatmeal, Wheaties, panko breadcrumbs with some type of binder for moisture like water or cream corn works well enough to allow the mixture to be molded around a lead and adhere tightly enough to be casted. It's not absolutely required to catch carp, but it will increase the odds dramatically.
|Two pieces of flavored maize|
tipped with a piece of plastic corn
|A picture of the typical pack bait |
molded around the 2 or 3 oz. lead
Plenty of carp have been caught on plain old bread molded around a hook and floated free line-style on top of the water. In fact, for those confident enough to use that method consistently, with the ability to stalk the carp, locate them in a body of water, and then deliver the bread bait to that exact spot have had a great deal of success.
The best part about carp fishing for me is trying different things and deciding what will work best in a given body of water under specific conditions.
I don't usually go to my planned fishing spot the day prior and through bait into the exact spot I plan to fish, but when I do I always catch more fish. Most of my fishing spots are 30 minutes from my house or more, so heading out the day before isn't usually possible. I wish it was something I could do more consistently. Here's why:
Sometimes I go out to my spot, cast and start catching fish within a few minutes. Other times I cast out and wait...and wait...and wait. I have spent a lot of time analyzing and thinking about the reasons for this.
There are all sorts of scientific explanations that might help explain it - like temperature, oxygen levels, available natural food sources, barometric pressure, etc. - but it can likely be boiled down to one simple concept and I suspect it's correct the majority of the time.
- Sometimes there are numerous fish in the area and sometimes there are not.
- If there are fish already present, pre-baiting gets the fish feeding on the specific bait you will be fishing with.
- If fish are not already present in the spot then pre-baiting adds the missing ingredient - food to attract the fish.
I also recommend a close reading of the current fishing guidebook before implementing any of these suggestions. There are some restricted streams where pre-baiting restricted.