The common carp is one of the most common fish species around. It has spread around the world and can now be found in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams all over. Common carp grow to very large sizes and they fight with a strength and speed that most other species. So, what is the easiest way to catch carp?
Although catching large carp consistently takes a bit of know how, hooking into a few averaged sized carp in a river or lake isn’t necessarily rocket science. Of course an “average size” common carp can be around fourteen or fifteen pounds. The fact that carp are easy to find and fun to catch is one of the reasons people pursue them.
Chances are that there are some rather large carp swimming near you. Here is a rundown of some of the easiest ways to catch carp. If you put them to use you might be hooked into some sooner than later.
If you come across a pod of feeding carp you’re already halfway towards catching them, assuming they don’t see you hovering over them like a bird of prey. When carp slowly move through an area picking up food off the bottom they are prone to taking properly presented baits. This is why people who fly fish for carp look for feeding fish.
Freelining to these fish isn’t complicated. You just put a juicy nightcrawler, a ball of doughball or a ball of white bread on your hook and cast it out in front of the feeding carp. You want to cast it on their path so the fish will swim over the bait, but you don’t want to cast it close enough to the fish to spook them. Ideally your bait will land ten feet or so in front of the fish in most conditions. If your bait is tempting or similar to what the carp are already eating you have a good chance at hooking up, but any of the best baits for carp will do.
In lakes you normally just let your bait sit there until the fish can find their way to it. In moving waters like streams sometimes the current will sweep your bait right in front of the fish. Either way works. If you make a bad cast, be careful when retrieving your line. If you aren’t careful you might spook the fish.
With freelining you don’t need any special rigging. All you need is a hook tied to the end of your line. If everything is balanced and your bait is heavy enough, casting shouldn’t be much of a problem. In this scenario, you’re usually pretty close to the fish anyway.
Walking around a lake or walking the banks of a stream is a way to find carp. Just keep your eyes open and pointed to the water ahead of you. Look for the silhouettes of fish or telltale signs like carp tails protruding out of the water. The key is to spot the fish before they spot you.
Chumming or pre-baiting
The next easiest method of catching carp is to bring them into the place your fishing and keep them there. This is done by chumming or “pre-baiting.” Where it is allowed, this is one of the best ways to catch carp. Nearly all serious carp anglers in Europe pre-bait. Some of the most successful carp anglers in the United States do the same.
With pre-baiting you chuck some of the bait you plan to use into the water in places where you see carp or know that they travel. The fish find the food source and make use of it. With repeated pre-baiting they start relating the area with feeding.
Pre-baiting can be done with boiled feed corn, maggots, doughball chunks and boilies. Boilies are specifically made for carp fishing and many other species can’t or won’t eat them. For that reason alone they are one of the best baits to chum for carp with.
You can throw bait into the water by hand, but you’re limited in accuracy and distance. Using a specially made bait spoon like the Fansport Bait Spoon can really help you get your bait where you want it. There are also bait slingshots like the PopShot Pro Fishing Bait Catapult on the market that can really launch boilies.
If you pre-bait the same area at the same time for at least two days in a row, you’ll usually find that the fish are there and ready to bite when you show up on the third day with your fishing gear. After days of eating the free floating pieces of bait you’ve thrown into the water, the carp will be less weary too. They’ll be eager to suck up the free meal without doing too much investigation.
You can also chum on a single day. It can help improve your odds of catching fish if the carp find your chum. It usually isn’t as effective as several days of pre-baiting, but it can still bring in the fish.
Once your pre-baiting has been done, you can fish whatever bait you’ve been chumming over the spot. Fishing a hair rig usually works best. It allows your hook bait to float somewhat freely while still being attached to your hook.