Why the lowly carp is becoming a more popular fish for some anglers
Believe it or not, there is a shift happening in the fishing world, one that's worth taking notice -- carp fishing is gaining in popularity.
The story of the seemingly lowly carp is well known by even the most casual of anglers. Often regarded as nothing more than a bottom-feeder, it is not uncommon to hear from many in the fishing community that any carp caught should be immediately disposed of in the trash bin. Though some still hold that opinion, it's no longer the majority opinion.
Before questioning whether the angling world has suddenly gone mad, it's important to consider some global context about carp fishing. In Europe, the carp is viewed with the same fondness that Americans express for fish like bass, musky and walleye. Given that fondness, an industry formed around carp fishing, paving the way for improved gear, baits and techniques.
Over the last decade or so, as fishing has entered the social media realm, European-style carp methods have transitioned into American markets. In the past, carp sections in tackle shops were essentially limited to flavored dough baits and corn. Today, an array of baits, specialized rigs and accessories are available to those looking to fish for carp in the 21st century.
While there are many ways to fish for carp in the European style, the pack bait method is arguably the most popular and effective.
This technique involves "packing" wettened mix baits around a special weight on your mainline and embedding a hook with a piece of corn or dough in the middle of the packed bait. The packed bait slowly breaks up in the water and gives off a scent that attracts carp to the baited hook. Recipes for homemade and commercial pack baits can be found online.
Another technique that has become popular is fly fishing. Bugs, flies and other terrestrials make up a good portion of a carp's diet, and the fight of the fish on fly tackle is something to behold.
The best time to target carp on the fly is during summertime insect hatches when carp are focused on the surface to find their next meal. This generally happens early morning or just prior to sundown.
To be realistic, it is not likely carp will ever win an American fishing popularity contest. However, they do serve a purpose as a well-distributed, opportunistic feeding species that can be fun for anglers of all ages.
Many will deride carp for the supposed havoc they wreak on ecosystems, but in most cases it has been found by fishery biologists that they do little to no harm on native fish populations.
Whether you're looking for something to catch when other fish don't care to bite, or simply looking to show a new angler what peeling drag really sounds like, consider the carp.
It's very likely you don't live far from a body of water where carp are present, so get out there and see what all the buzz is about.