Fishing is one of the world’s most popular pastimes. It is fun, relaxing and allows those who enjoy it to escape from the stresses of modern day life and spend some time in the fresh air. The challenges of fishing for various different species also provides the opportunity to enjoy various habitats and immerse yourself in the habits of both the target species and their prey – it provides a fascinating insight into the natural world. However, with so many people enjoying fishing there are bound to be differing opinions of methods and indeed the merits of different fish species as targets.
The merits of one particular species seems to split the fishing fraternity into two distinct camps – and this species is Carp. For many fishermen, the notion that Carp are no more than a bottom feeding nuisance that tends to destroy any environment where it is present (they do middy waters and uproot vegetation as they search for food items) is deeply ingrained. Carp has fallen out of favor as an eating fish as well.
Others see Carp as a challenge due in part to the large size of the fish and its hard fighting nature. As for the fact that many view Carp as a substandard eating fish – that seems a strange opinion seeing as the fish is revered as a delicacy in places like Europe and Asia – and for many years was held in high esteem by immigrants to the United States and other lovers of fine food to whom smoked Carp is a special treat.
The idea that Carp are undesirable additions to aquatic ecosystems is one that is ironic seeing as the fish was introduced to waterways in the 1880’s as a game fish.
So why, given the low esteem that many fishermen feel for the Common Carp is the attitude towards this species changing? It seems in part due to the fact that fishing for the Common Carp exposes fishermen to prey that is one of the largest and hardest fighting fish in the United States. In addition, studies have shown that the Carp can accelerate faster than any other freshwater fish – something in the region of 0 – 60 in an incredibly short distance. The combination of size, strength, speed and a picky nature when it comes to baits provide fishermen with a unique challenge.
Carp may seem like indiscriminate eaters and the average gas station store can provide many of the ingredients required to construct ‘dough balls’ which are used as bait (luncheon meat, dog food, canned corn, chicken skin and even marshmallows have been mentioned – all bound together with agents such as molasses or even peanut butter) – but the challenge is to find what works on a certain day and for a specific population.
As for the taste? Carp that swim in clean water do not have that muddy taste that puts many off. Aside from the much loved smoked Carp option they also taste great grilled or even pickled.
This is a fish that is well worth targeting. Ignore the old timers and explore Carp as an alternative to other fish in fresh waters.