Tag Archives: Carp

Carp Fishing Basics

Carp fishing is some of the easiest and most entertaining fishing around and anyone can be successful if they follow the carp fishing basics below.  With this being said, Carp fishing is very different from other types of fishing that most people participate in (i.e. Bass and Trout fishing), and in my personal opinion can’t be approached in the same manner; both in terms of mindset and technique. Read on for Carp fishing basics.

Common Carp
16-lb Common Carp I caught using the same carp fishing basics I’ll be explaining in this article.

Carp Fishing Gear

Before heading out for a day of Carp fishing, you need to make sure you have the right gear and tackle for the day. Go ahead and leave your ultralight trout rods at home. For small to medium sized carp, a 7 to 9 foot, medium/heavy action rod and spinning reel with 10lb mono should suffice. I’m just going to stick the basics for this article, so I’m going to explain a very simple rig that I like to use when fishing for small to medium sized Carp; and it may be a rig that you have already used for another style of fishing.

Basic Terminal Tackle For Carp:

  • 8 to 10+ pound monofilament OR 15+ pound braid for your reel
  • 1-ounce egg sinkers
  • Size 6 baitholder or plain shank hooks
  • 20+ pound test fluorocarbon leader
  • Barrel swivels

As with any rig, your first step is deciding which line to use, I prefer to use the heavier braided lines whenever I fish for Carp, but 8-lb or 10-lb monofilament line works perfectly for your average sized Carp as long as you don’t try to horse the fish in too fast.  Now that you know which line to use, we can move onto the rig itself.  You’re going to want to have a 1-ounce egg sinker on your main line, followed by a barrel swivel with safety snap (size 12 or larger) tied onto your main line.  All that’s left now is your leader and your hook.  I usually tie my own leaders with 20-lb fluorocarbon tied to a size 6 bait-holder hook which I make into pre-tied leaders so I can easily switch them out, or if I get broken off I can simply put a new one on (This is where your snap swivel comes into play).  Though to simplify it even more you can even go pick up some pre-tied leaders from Walmart or your local tackle shop instead of making your own.

Basic carp fishing rig
Basic carp fishing rig
Basic carp fishing rig - detail
Basic carp fishing rig – detail of sinker and swivel

Creating Your Carp Fishing Bait

Choosing a bait for Carp is fairly easy seeing as it can be as simple as using a can of corn or garden worms, both of which Carp will readily take.  Though, one simple way to increase your chances of catching more Carp is to increase the appeal of your bait to the fish.  When fishing for Carp, I create a simple, though effective, bait made from foods you can find in your local supermarket.

Carp Bait Shopping List

  • Two or three cans of cream style sweet corn
  • One can of whole kernel sweet corn
  • One or two larger containers of 5-minute quick oats (oatmeal)

Baiting the Hook

Start off by putting enough of the regular sweet corn onto your hook so that the hook is covered, but the tip and barb are still exposed.  For size 6 hooks, usually three or four pieces of corn will do the trick.  Once you’re done with that, you’ll need to combine the creamed corn and quick oats to make your oat pack.  Your first step in this process will be to pour some of your oats into a bucket of some sort; I usually start with half of the container of oats.  After you have your oats in the bucket, you’ll need to pour about a quarter of the can of creamed corn into the bucket as well.  After that, you’ll need to mix them up a bit, and add a bit more creamed corn after that so you’re mixture is just wet enough to stick together when you cast out.  Usually at this point, the question of “how much of the mixture do I put on the hook?”.  I usually do an entire handful, but when you’re first starting out, smaller handfuls are easier to mold around the hook and cast out until you get the hang of it.  Another common question I get asked about this process is “how do the carp get to the hook with that big oat ball around it?”.  This brings me to the point of the oat pack; after about a minute or so in the water, the oats fall apart and fall around the hook.  Now instead of having the big oat pack around your hook, the oats are loose and in a pile around your hook, and when a Carp comes by it sucks up the oats around the hook, and will eventually suck your hook up along with them.  This way the Carp have something extra to draw them in as opposed to only having sweet corn on your hook for bait.

Casting a Bait Ball

Casting this bait out might take a little while to get used to, so don’t get frustrated if you lose your oat pack on your first few attempts!  When casting out an oat pack, you can’t really whip your bait out there like you normally would.  Instead, you have to take it easy and make your casts a little slower and just pitch it out there without whipping your rod too much.  It definitely takes getting used to, but after your first trip or two you should start to get the hang of it. Now that you have your bait all ready to go and in the water, all you need to do is wait for some action!  

Hooking, Playing, and Landing a Carp

Right after you get your lines in the water, I can’t stress enough that you should either have bait-feeder reels, or have your reels in free spool.  The reasoning behind this is that you don’t want the fish to feel any resistance when taking out line while it’s inspecting your bait, and most importantly, you don’t want to lose your rod to the fish!  This leads me into my next point, just because you get a bump on your line, doesn’t mean the fish is on yet.  When your line bumps, it’s usually either the Carp sucking up the oats around your hook, or bumping your line itself.  As soon as the Carp feels the hook, 99 times out of 100 it will go on a strong run and start to peel out line.  Now when this happens, you can’t set the hook like you would on other fish, like a Bass.  Though it is always good to still set the hook, you don’t have to do it as hard as you normally would since Carp have very soft mouths and you don’t want to rip the hook out.  Usually just simply lifting your rod up and taking it out of free spool, or engaging the drag if using a bait-feeder while the fish is on it’s initial run will be more than enough to set the hook in it’s mouth.

Fighting the Fish

While the fish is on it’s initial run, you’re going to just want to keep your rod tip high and pointed away from the fish, just as you would any other large fish.  Once it’s done making it’s first run then you can finally start reeling and fight the fish.  When fighting a Carp, it’s just like fighting any other large fish, but you have to take it easier on them since if you pull too hard you’ll pull the hook out of their soft mouths.  General rule of thumb is; if the fish is running, let him run and tire itself out against your drag, only reel once it’s done with a run, and ALWAYS keep tension on your line otherwise the fish will be able to shake the hook.  By doing this, you minimize the risk of pulling the hook out while also making for a more enjoyable fight!

Carp Fishing
Fish on! Fighting a smaller, 5-lb Carp.

Landing the Fish

Once you get the fish under control and close to shore, he might stay just out of netting distance for a while or go on one final run, so be ready for that.  But once you have the opportunity to net the fish, guide it in head first and get the majority of the fish in the net before trying to scoop it up so the fish doesn’t flop back out of the net and injure itself.  Once the fish is in the net, take the hook out, snap a few pictures, and get it back in the water to fight another day!  If you wish to weigh your fish, the best way to do this is by using a weigh sling, or if you don’t have a weigh sling you can weigh the fish in your net and subtract the weight of your net later on.  This method is much easier on the fish than weighing it on a conventional scale that goes through the gills since Carp are so heavy.

25-lb Common Carp caught using the same method
25-lb Common Carp I caught using the same method explained in this article.

With the information in this article, you have all you need to get out for a fun day of Carp fishing.  I hope everyone found it helpful, and if you have any additional questions feel free to ask!

October 12 & 13, 2013 – Shore Fishing Report

Woke up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 12th to meet up with Zach Batren for a full day of fishing.  I managed to get a late start since I fell back asleep after getting everything ready in the morning, but luckily Zach texted me and woke me up before I missed too much.  I arrived at Round Valley around 7:15 a.m. and Zach B. had already landed a beautiful 15-inch Rainbow Trout on rainbow Powerbait.  So I got both of my lines into the water and about an hour later I hooked into another nicely colored Rainbow Trout that took my salmon peach Powerbait.  Within the ten minutes that followed that; the fisherman to my right landed another Trout, and Tom (Who is a regular reader of this website) lost another good fish, which we assume was a Trout.

Round Valley Rainbow Trout
My 15-inch Rainbow Trout caught on salmon peach Powerbait

Though after that flurry of action, we didn’t get anything else by the time Chris Moran met up with us around 9:45 a.m. so we gave it until 10:30 called it quits and packed up to change spots.  As we were walking back to our cars, we saw another fisherman fishing on the swimming side with live Shiners about 3-feet under bobbers hook into a nice chunky Chain Pickerel, probably around 25-inches.  So we stopped and talked to him for a little while and he told us he had been getting Pickerel all morning, so we decided to stop and try for a bit.  We didn’t get anything besides a few boils behind our topwater baits we were casting (Zara Spooks, Rapala’s, etc.).  After about 45 minutes or so of that, we headed off to the South Branch of the Raritan River for some more Trout action.  There were definitely a good amount of anglers fishing the stretch of river we were fishing, but none seemed to be catching much of anything as far as we could tell.

South Branch Brook Trout
Zach B. with his 15-inch Brook Trout caught at the South Branch of the Raritan River on a gold Panther Martin

Probably about three minutes in, Zach B. was into a nice fish that hit his gold 1/8-ounce Panther Martin, and after a pretty strong fight he netted a nice 15-inch Brook Trout.  We tried for about another hour and a half or so without anything else besides some Smallmouth Bass Chris had hooked into while bouncing worms along the bottom.  Zach B. and I decided to head on over to Spruce Run to try for some more Pike, Catfish, and Bass.  Unfortunately Chris had to leave for work, so he decided to stay at the South Branch instead of joining Zach and I at Spruce because of his time restrictions.  So Zach and I headed to Spruce and after making a stop at Behre Bait & Tackle for some Herring and another stop for some lunch, we arrived at Spruce Run around 3:00 p.m.  The wind had picked up a good amount since we left Round Valley and was blowing right back into our faces, which made casting out a little challenging at times but we managed to get our lines out perfectly fine.  After waiting for what felt like forever (But in reality was probably only 45 minutes at most) Zach got a hit on one of his lines that took out a decent amount of line, which was shortly followed by a hit on one of my lines that also took out a few feet of line.

Spruce Run Bass
Me with my Smallmouth Bass (Left) and Largemouth Bass (Right); both caught on live Herring

For the majority of our time there, that was all we got; good hits that just didn’t stick the hook.  Though after a while I started to get into some smaller, but decent Channel Catfish, all around 3 or 3.5-lbs or so.  By the time we decided to end our trip around 7:30 p.m. I had landed four Channel Catfish (One away from limiting out), one decent sized Smallmouth Bass, as well as a pretty bulky Largemouth Bass probably around 3-lbs.  Zach B. on the other hand was only able to land one fish by the time we headed out, but he did manage to get the biggest fish of the day; a 23+ inch, approximately 4-lb Channel Catfish.  So we definitely had a great day of fishing overall and we probably would have stayed out longer at Spruce, but we wanted to get back, fillet our fish, and make ourselves a nice fish dinner so we called it a night.

Spruce Run Channel Catfish
Zach B. with his 4-lb Channel Catfish caught on live Herring. Our biggest fish of the day!

The next day (Sunday, October 13) I headed over to DeMott Pond since I woke up too late to go to Round Valley like I had planned.  But I managed to get out to DeMott around 1:30 p.m. and got my lines into the water for some Carp fishing, and as usual I was using sweet corn along with an oat pack.  About 45 minutes after getting my lines into the water, one of my rods gets a hit and starts peeling out drag and I immediately know it’s a Carp.  At first I wasn’t sure how big it was since it swam towards me at first, then to the left instead of straight out like a lot of Carp at DeMott tend to do.  Though as soon as I got it about half way in the real fight started and became a stalemate since every time I would gain a few feet of line, it would take it right back out and we started again back at square one.  After a while, I was finally able to start gaining some ground on the fish and was able to get it close to shore, almost within netting distance.  Right around then is when I got my first real good look at it, and was able to see that it was definitely an above average sized Carp for DeMott.  For a little while it became a stalemate again with the fish holding it’s ground right outside of netting distance, but after a few more minutes it finally began to tire out and after a few attempts, we were finally able to net it.

DeMott Pond Carp
My 25-lb Carp out of DeMott Pond

The fish weighed in at 25-lbs and was around 35-inches in length.  Definitely one of the biggest Carp I’ve been able to pull out of DeMott to this day!  Unfortunately that was the only fish I was able to land that day, though I got a few more hits and bumps that were definitely Carp, but none took.  All in all, despite the fact I only landed one fish, it was a great trip, and if I only land one fish a trip that would definitely be one I wouldn’t mind hauling in!

Fishing Report – June 16-17, 2013

Fished for some Carp at DeMott Pond on Sunday, June 16 (Haven’t been able to finish writing this report since I’ve been out fishing too much!).  Started off the day by myself for about the first three hours or so, and I was using my usual bait; sweet corn on the hook, with a mixture of oats and creamed corn molded around the hook and sweet corn.  Fishing started off slow with only a few bumps on my line here and there, nothing too interesting at all.  Probably about two hours or so in, a pretty big storm rolled in and I ended up getting drenched.  However, a few minutes after the rain stopped, line starts tearing out of one of my reels.  Right from the start I knew I was into a pretty decent sized Carp, after fighting it for about five minutes I managed to get it to within 10 feet of the shore, until it went on another run and shot all the way to the other side of the pond.  After another 10-15 minutes of fighting the fish, I finally got it in back close enough to shore where I could see it again.  After tiring the fish out by shore for another few minutes, I started to bring it in closer and managed to net it by myself.  The fish measured 32-inches and 23-lbs, my biggest Carp out of DeMott Pond so far!  I had a fisherman who had walked over to see what I caught take a picture for me, but my arms were so tired from  fighting the fish for close to 20 minutes that I could barely hold it up for the picture.

Common Carp
My 23-lb, 32-inch Carp from DeMott Pond

Shortly after I released the Carp, Tyler Langston sent me a text, and came down to join me for some of the action.  Not even an hour after arriving, he was into a fish, and another nicely sized one it was.  His fish weighed in at 14.76-lbs, not bad for his first Carp!  We ended our trip a little bit before sunset, and ended up hauling in five Carp up to 23-lbs.  Not a bad day of fishing if you ask me.

16-lb Carp.  My second biggest of the day.
16-lb Carp. My second biggest of the day.
14.76-lb Common Carp
Tyler’s first Carp! 14.76-lbs









Later that night, we headed off to Round Valley for some Channel Catfish and Eels.  This time Tyler and I were joined by Tyler’s friend Kevin Lynch, who had gotten in touch with me through Tyler after reading a few of the posts on the site here.  We were using cooked shrimp as bait, the same shrimp you would use for nighttime Rainbow fishing.  The night started off very slow with only a few small bumps on our lines, most likely Bluegills or Rock Bass toying with our baits.  Probably close to two hours in, one of my rods goes off, and I’m hooked into an approximately 6-lb, 3-foot American Eel.  I managed to get it in close to shore, only to lose it right before we were able to net it.  I prefer to net Eels, even when I’m going from shore, mostly because they tend to snap the leaders we use (And sometimes the line if we’re not using braid) if we try to pull them out of the water and onto shore otherwise since the ones in Round Valley, from my experience, are all at least 5-lbs, and squirm so much.  Anyways, after about another hour or so of waiting and not getting anything else, we called it a night and agreed to meet up again the next day for some more Carp fishing.

The following morning (Monday June, 17) we met up again at 7:00 a.m. at DeMott Pond for another day of Carp fishing.  Tyler was the first one to beat the skunk with a 7.5-lb Carp he landed not even an hour after we got our lines into the water.

7.5-lb Common Carp
First Carp of the day. Tyler’s 7.5-lb Carp

After that, the action wasn’t too crazy for the rest of the day, but it was definitely there and was very consistant, and we even had two double headers, two of us having fish on at the same time.  Shortly after Tyler landed his fish, Kevin beat the skunk as well, this time with a nice 20-lb Carp!

20-lb Common Carp
Kevin and his 20-lb Carp

By the end of our trip, between the three of us we landed 12 Carp and lost about another 10 close to shore.  Overall it was a great day, and none of us had anything bad to say about our day of fishing.

Carp Fishing Report – June 11, 2013

Went out to DeMott Pond in Clinton, NJ this morning to do some Carp fishing with Chris Moran.  The weather was slightly overcast, turning a little more sunny as the day went on with a slight breeze, not bad fishing weather if you ask me.  For bait, we were using sweet corn packed into oat balls made with oats and creamed corn.  The day started off slow, but probably about an hour or so in Chris got a big hit on one of his rods, peeled drag and all, but the fish got off after a brief fight.  After about another hour or so, Chris’ rod goes off again and this time it sticks the hook, and after a good fight he lands a decent sized Carp, maybe about 7-8 pounds.  It definitely wasn’t anything compared to the 20-30 pound Carp we’re used to catching, but it was definitely a good fighter and fun to catch none the less.  Then probably about 10 minutes after that happened, Chris hooked into and landed a decent sized Bullhead, but we weren’t too thrilled with it.

Common Carp
Chris Moran – Common Carp

Shortly after he landed the Bullhead, Chris had to leave for work.  Seeing as I hadn’t gotten anything except for a few bumps on my line, I decided to stay a little bit longer to see if I could beat the skunk as well for the day.  Not more than 30 minutes after Chris left, I started getting some bumps on my line again and eventually something took the bait and went on a good run. Considering the pond we were fishing, there was no doubt it was a Carp as soon as it hit; same goes for Chris’ Carp, as well as the fish he lost during the fight.  After about a 4-5 minute fight I managed to get the fish in and land it on shore.  Same as Chris’ Carp, mine was probably in the ball park of 7-8 pounds, so a pretty decent fish.  I didn’t have a net, so I tried to tire it out more than I usually would before I got it in too close, which only made the fight more enjoyable.

Common Carp
My Carp from today

After getting my Carp back into the water, I had to call it quits since I hooked into that fish with my last bit of oats.  Would have liked to stay a bit longer to get into some more Carp before I headed home, but both Chris and I beat the skunk with some decent fish that put up some fun fights, so I can’t complain one bit.  Overall it was a decent day of fishing, nothing too crazy, but definitely better than getting skunked!

May 7, 2013 – Shore Fishing Report

Started off the day yesterday, May 7, 2013 shore fishing with Chris M. at the Millstone River for Pickerel and Bass, nothing except for one follow I got on an F-7 Rapala, Perch pattern, from a decent sized Pickerel.  After about a half an hour or so of fishing there, we headed off to our usual Carp spot to meet Matt for another day of Carp fishing.  After getting our poles into the water, Chris was the first to hook into a fish.  It was definitely a Carp, but got snagged up and lost it before he could get it in.  We were using the same oat and creamed corn mixture as last time we were out, as well as cake flavorings and puffed corn.  Though the second fish we hooked into was on a Bluegill, also on one of Chris’ poles, but unfortunately that got off as well.  After that, Matt started to get into some fish and ended up landing somewhere around five or six Carp and one Channel Catfish.  By the time we left that was all we caught, in addition to a small 13-lb Carp I got not too soon before we packed up for the day.  Though I beat the skunk, had a great time, and that’s all that matters to me!

Zach M., Common Carp
Zach M., Common Carp, location undisclosed.
Zach M., Brown Trout, Round Valley Reservoir
The Author, Zach Mechant with a 19.25-inch 3.2-lb Brown Trout caught at Round Valley under a slip bobber.

After a quick lunch break at 25 Burgers, Chris and I stopped by Behre Bait and Tackle, picked up some Herring, and headed over to Round Valley for the remainder of the day.  We started off with three rods fished with Herring on the bottom with a basic bottom rig, as well as a fourth rod with a Herring about 6-feet under a slip bobber.  Probably about 45 minutes in, we see my slip bobber going crazy; like something was chasing the Herring.  Right as we think that to ourselves, we lose sight of it and shortly after my rod doubles over.  After putting up a pretty good fight and even jumping once, I land a nice 19.25-inch 3.2-lb Brown Trout! Needless to say, after that we began switching all of our other rods from bottom rigs over to slip bobbers.  Though before I can finish setting up my second rod, my first one gets hit again but I whiff the hook set and nothing.  Shortly after we get all our rods switched over, I get into another fish on one of my rods!  Funny story about this one; I see one of my bobbers disappear and one of my rods start to bend so I pick up my rod, set the hook, feel the pressure of a fish and begin reeling.  Not even 5 seconds into fighting it, the line goes dead and I reel in a little more and see it became tangled with one of Chris’ lines.  I guess it was bound to happen eventually seeing as we were letting our slip bobbers drift pretty close together at times.  But anyways, so I start reeling in the tangle so we can get it fixed, but both Chris and I realize that my second rod is still out in the water, tangle free, and my slip bobber is nowhere to be found again.  Shortly after we realize this, my rod doubles over, and I’m fighting another fish in!  I get it in about two-thirds of the way, just close enough to see it break the surface, when it shakes the hook.  It was another Brown, about the same size as my first one, if not a little bigger(aren’t they always?!).  Going from fish on, to no fish, fish on again, and back to no fish in less than a minute was very disappointing, though makes for a funny story for the day, and as one of my co-workers would say; that’s why we call it fishing and not catching!  By the end of our time at Round Valley we only landed my one Brown Trout and a Rock Bass, but missed 3 or 4 more fish as well.

Zach M., Trout, Round Valley Reservoir
Zach M., holding another Trout caught from the shore.

My favorite part about our time at the Valley though was seeing tons of Trout, my guess is 5-10 of them, feed on what looked like baitfish on the surface around our lines.  I even casted out once and saw at least four or five Trout scatter on the surface as soon as my bait hit the water.  We couldn’t get any of them to bite, but was definitely an awesome sight to see.  In addition to that, we saw probably hundreds of fish cruising close to shore at sunset as well; Bluegill, Rock Bass, Largemouth Bass, and Trout.  Definitely a good sign and hopefully the fishing there will continue to heat up as the weather gets warmer!