General Information: From the shores of Lake Erie through Columbus and down to the Ohio River, common carp are in a majority of Ohio’s waters. Originally found in China and Europe, carp were stocked nationwide in the 1900s; thus, they are considered to be an exotic species. However, despite numerous attempts to eliminate them, carp have survived due to their tolerance for a variety of environmental conditions. Despite their appearance, size, and shape, these large fish are related to the minnows in your bait bucket and are, in fact, the world’s largest minnow.
State Records: Rod and Reel: 50 pounds, 40 inches, Paint Creek
Judson Holton, Chillicothe, Ohio
May 24, 1967
Bowfishing: 47.65 pounds, 38”, Sandusky Bay
Rich Cady, Newark, Ohio
May 28, 2008
Fish Ohio Length: 26 inches
Tips: Two simple tips are important to remember. First, carp are naturally spooky, so take care not to cause too many disruptions while fishing. Also, carp “hit” by taking the bait and swimming away quickly. To make sure you hook the fish without losing your rod, try keeping the bail of your reel open or in “free spool”. This will let the carp run with you bait and not feel any drag resistance so you can get a good hookset.
Tackle: Carp are very hardy fighters, so your gear must be able to withstand their fury. Make sure you have longer, medium weight rods (6 feet plus) spooled with plenty of 8 – 12 pound line. Common carp are also legal to fish for with a bow and arrow as long as local regulations permit doing so.
Where to go:
Seasonal Fishing Approaches:
(June - mid-September)
(mid-September - November)
(December - February)
||Good - Excellent
|Carp move somewhat in the spring, but your best bet would be to find the fish before you start fishing. Bottom rigs are preferred, with traditional baits (doughballs, crayfish, etc.) being preferred.
||Baits on bottom work well during the spring,. The best bet is to cast bait (bread, corn, cornmeal doughballs, etc.) in areas where carp frequently are seen, and then patiently wait. Boilies (a hardened ball of eggs, protein powder, and flavors) start to work well.
||Carp can be caught on traditional bottom rigs using popular baits such as doughballs, corn meal, or boilies. For a switch, carp can be caught on the surface using baits that float such as dog food, floating bread pieces, or goldfish crackers.
||Use larger baits this time of year. Carp want to eat, but not spend too much energy, so larger doughballs or boilies work well in a bottom presentation.
||Single hooks with minimal bait are preferred. Carp do not feed or move extensively during winter, so focus on finding the fish instead of counting on the fish to find the bait.
|Deeper areas associated with shallow feeding areas work well this time of year. Carp, especially larger individuals, do not go shallow full time until the waters warm up towards the end of April, so unless they are feeding heavily, they are going to be concentrated in deeper waters.
||Carp start to spawn as soon as water temperatures get above 60 oF. They are prevalent in shallows, where splashing makes their presence obvious. Anglers should look for these areas to have successful trips.
||Because of temperatures, carp mainly feed during the cooler times of day (dusk, dawn). Focus on areas adjacent to cooler, deeper waters such as weed beds, flooded timber, or cattails pads.
|Carp are going to eat a lot, but not exert a lot of energy to do so. Focus on pre-wintering areas (drop offs, wed beds, etc) where carp frequent. They should be in similar locations to summer, but areas exposed to colder winds are avoided.
||Carp look for warmer waters throughout the winter. Look for deeper waters adjacent to shelves or weed beds. Carp will frequent the deeper areas, but move shallow as waters warm.
Common Carp: A Storied History in the United States
Matt Wolfe, Fisheries Biologist, Division of Wildlife
It’s almost as if common carp live in two different worlds. In Europe, common carp are a revered sportfish. A simple internet search yields hundreds of websites devoted to carp fishing overseas. Walleye, muskie, largemouth bass are a distant second behind the world’s largest minnow. However, in North America common carp have not been welcomed with open arms. Excitement over stocking these fish in the late 1800s quickly turned to distain, and common carp have not received the accolades here as they have in Europe. But why?
Much of the dislike for common carp stems from accounts of how carp affect native fish populations. Reports that common carp eat eggs of other sportfish, thereby compromising native populations is largely speculative. Recent research has indicated that common carp do not affect reproduction of laregemouth bass and bluegill. The biggest affect common carp have on other fishes is the cloudy water produced by bottom feeding. Carp in shallow waters can generate some turbidity, but in most Ohio lakes, their populations are too low for this to affect other fishes.
Common carp are an exotic species that has been widely introduced and are next to impossible to eliminate from a lake once they become established. Anglers should not confuse common carp with other Asian carp, like the Bighead and Silver Carps. Unlike common carp, other Asian carp have NOT become established in Ohio’s waters and the Ohio Division of Wildlife hopes to keep them out. So what are anglers to do? Enjoy fishing for common carp! All you need is a loaf of bread, some heavy line, and a free evening, and you can try to catch one of the hardest fighting sport fish in the world. How often can you go grocery shopping and bait shopping at the same place? Common carp are here, and they are not going anywhere, so you might want to toss them a line the next time you are out on the water. You might be surprised!