How to catch carp: complete expert guide for carp fishing

how to catch carp

The carp is one of the most powerful fish in our local waters. There are many different baits and methods to catch it. This guide outlines how to catch carp, with expert tips on varieties, best spots, bait and techniques.

How to catch carp: overview and history

The carp is widespread and especially appreciated by fishing lovers, with an entire branch of fishing being developed around it. The freshwater fish actually comes originally from Asia. It was introduced to Europe in ancient times. The Romans built numerous ponds at that time to have a way to hold back water, and the carp was settled in these ponds almost as a second thoughts. This is how the first carp ponds were created.

The high back is characteristic of the carp. The fish is muscular and strongly built. The underlying mouth can be turned into a kind of proboscis to pick up particles or small organisms from the ground. The carp has no teeth at the front of the jaw but so-called pharyngeal teeth. They are similar to the molars. In addition, the cyprinus carprio, the Latin name for it, has 2 typical barbs on the upper lip and 2 barbs on the corners of the mouth.

The original wild carp has been extensively bred over time. The result are different carp shapes, some of which are very different from their ancestors. There have been significant changes, especially in terms of size and appearance.

  • The common carp – it has a higher back than the original form. In addition, the whole body of the fish is scaled.
  • The Zeilkar – Its scales are limited to the arrangement along a line. Hence the naming. This single row of scales is arranged along the side of the fish.
  • The mirror carp – it is the best known and a very widespread form of freshwater fish in our region. The cultivation has only isolated and irregularly arranged scales on the sides. The tail and back of the fish are completely scaled.
  • The leather carp – this breed is also known as naked carp. The fish is usually completely without scales.
  • The Koi – carp – these are some very colorful breeds that come from Japan. This breed is usually kept in ponds as a decorative fish and is a status symbol, especially in Japan. Individual specimens are even caught in our waters after they have been released there by fish farmers.

As a rule, a carp can usually weigh up to 40 kilograms and reach a body length of up to one meter. However, the 40kg limits are regularly broken.

How to catch carp: important factors in successful carp fishing

how to catch carp

The feeding behavior of the carp

The carp is a schooling fish that stays in deeper water areas or hides there during the day, and this is a crucial factor in how to fish for carp. Only at the onset of dusk does the cautious fish start looking for food. The carp likes still and, at best, slowly flowing water. 

The soil should be muddy and have dense vegetation. The carp catches prey on the muddy bottomThe carp digs, ie it plows through the bottom of the water when looking for food. It eats everything from aquatic plants and mushrooms that grow on the bottom to worms , mussels or insects and their larvae.

Up to 95 percent of the fish’s diet consists of food animals. It used to be assumed that carp only feed on plants, but this can also be refuted by the fact that in rare cases carp bite as bycatch when fishing for predatory fish with wobblers and the like. 

With falling water temperatures, the activity of the fish also decreases. From a water temperature of about 6 degrees, the carp stops eating almost completely. If you want to fish carp successfully, you should do so at higher water temperatures. Then the fish are mostly in the evening and at daybreak on the prowl.

The spawning behavior of the carp

In the carp, mating is preceded by a spawning game. It takes place preferentially in warm and shallow water. Strong plant growth is just as important as a prerequisite for oviposition. After the so-called drift, the male pokes his female several times in the side with his head. Then the female releases the spawn into the water. Now the male will inseminate. Up to 1.5 million eggs can be fertilized in this way.

The offspring hatch after about 3 to 8 days. First, the larvae sink to the bottom. Your swim bladder is not yet filled with a gas mixture, so there is no buoyancy. The yolk sac is still there for the first ingestion of food. If this is eaten, the mini carps feed on zooplankton, and later on, among other things, small crabs or insect larvae.

The carp as a target fish

If you want to fish carp successfully, you should already have angling experience and be familiar with the respective waters for the best strategies in how to catch carp. Young and especially hungry carp are often careless and easy to catch in spring. They bite well at a water temperature of 8 degrees, but carp fishing is possible all year round (taking into account the local closed seasons)

Big carp are completely different. They are cautious and much more shy than their younger counterparts. If you want to achieve fishing success here, you should first observe the water. Where do bubbles form on the water surface? Where do reeds or stalks move particularly conspicuously? Both of these are signs of a big carp.

Two things are particularly important for how to catch carp: firstly, finding the right fishing spot for carp fishing (see below) and secondly: feeding them the right bait regularly.

Get the carp used to a specific spot. For this to work, you should always feed at the same time over a period of several days. You can use chickpeas, hard corn or bread for this.

In the past, carp was caught with flavored dough made from cornmeal or breadcrumbs, with thawworms or canned corn. But in any case when bottom or float fishing. The boilie method has become the most successful and popular way of capturing carp. The boilies are very tough or even very hard and therefore difficult to dissolve in water. They can only be eaten by carp or carp-like fish. The second plus point is that the hook itself is not covered by the bait when fishing and can simply grab the fish’s mouth. 

One also speaks here of the ‘hair’ method for how to catch carp. For the carp, only the bait is in the water from a purely visual point of view, he can usually not see the short line connection to the hook. The hook, together with the boilie, is simply sucked in with the pounding and the fish hangs on the hook. The large, more experienced fish are sometimes so cautious that they have even completely ignored bait or, when the view is clear, nibble an obviously offered bait directly from the hook.

In the hot season, the non-predatory fish often stay directly under the surface of the water, for example in places where branches hang over the water.

There the (grass) carp can also be successfully lured with swim bread. Big chunks of up to 20 kilograms in weight have already been caught.
Make sure to use cords that have a load capacity of more than 10 kilograms.

If you have a carp on the hook, it will try to escape into areas that are difficult to access. The animals can develop enormous forces in the process.

Carp fishing techniques

Feed the spot where you want to fish, ideally 5 – 7 days in advance in the same time window. The carp quickly gets used to the rhythm of this feeding period. At the end of the week and on the day you want to fish, you should reduce the amount of feed and only feed exactly around the spot where the fishing lure is. 

As a creature of habit, the carp will now, with a fairly high probability, be looking for food at this point at the same time as in the last few days. The manor with the hard lead method and the previously mentioned hair method have been confirmed as successful methods of carp fishing.

The hair method works like this:

The bait, e.g. a boilie, trout pellet or a piece of dog food (frolic), is connected with a very thin piece of string, the so-called hair, and with the hook. Initially, 1 cm is sufficient as a distance between the bait and the hook. This distance must be adapted to the biting behavior over time.

Since the carp sucks in its prey, it will also suck in the bait and with it the bare hook. The coarse fish will now take flight. The carp runs against the lead weight of up to 150 grams, which was previously fixed on the line. The solid lead causes the fish to hook itself!

Often only the sticking method makes sense over medium and long distances. But if you fish in heavily fished areas, the carp may have “learned something new”. A large number of missed bites or the complete absence from the fishing spot can be the result.

Now you can still help yourself further as follows:

  • Camouflage the leads, for example by using inconspicuous colors.
  • Reduce the hook size, but don’t reduce the size of the bait.
  • In addition, use rigs that are adapted to the water.

These measures increase the chances of success even with very cautious target fish.

A non forgettable Angel variant is still the target fishing for carp float fishing and also the surface fishing. The advantage of float fishing: You can wander back and forth between several feeding points. Sometimes this tactic brings more successful bites in one day than three days in a sitting position at a feeding station. 

Smaller baits such as corn kernelsmaggot bundles or pieces of bread crusts are better suited for stalking than the otherwise so successful boilies. Surface angling is promising from summer to early autumn. Then the carp swim more in shallow water or they patrol the surface of the water.

The simple bread crust still holds a top position as bait. But you can also try it with insects.

How to catch carp – find the right fishing spot

Your primary goal before you start fishing: Find a natural feeding place for the target fish. The right place can be very different: water lily fields , sunken trees or islands , but also sandbanks or weed parts of water, as well as mussel fields (in mussel fields the use of robust chalk line is absolutely advisable) carp prefer to search for food. When you’re sure you’ve found one, start feeding it. Here is a selection of possible fishing spots:

  • Target fishing in locks and weirs : the river sections accumulate in front of a lock, the water is almost calm, so you get conditions that are similar to standing waters. The calm water is the ideal habitat for a selection of small creatures such as larvae, insects and snails. The advantage of “lock fishing”: In this deep and very calm water there is a good chance of catching a winter carp. Depending on the surface of the sluice or weir, these are spots where mussels attach, another food source for our target fish.
    In contrast to the flow of the lock, the first few meters of the weir are fast-flowing water. This means that the water carries a lot of oxygen with it, which means that a lot of food is stirred up. This situation can be an insider tip that you should try out as a fishing spot. If it doesn’t work right away, this point should be avoided because carp attach little importance to oxygen-rich waters.
  • Target fishing in oxbow lakes : oxbow lakes are very popular with carp. Here the water stands completely or it only flows very slowly. This means it can heat up faster and the nutrient density is correspondingly high. Small creatures feel at home here, a preferred food source for carp. This makes oxbow lakes particularly interesting waters for successfully fishing for carp.
  • Target fishing on groyne basins : The groyne basins offer peace and protection to the carp, provided you know the bottom of the water. The rock fillings protrude far into the water, the gravel-covered ground is a habitat for crabs, insects and mussels. The carp finds enough food here and therefore moves from the main course of the river into these quieter water zones, especially in the evening. Our tip: place the bait directly on the bottom of the water and near the rock fillings.

How to catch fish: beginner’s guide to gear, technique and tips