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Common Carp, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods and techniques.

Carp are generally considered a nuisance by North American anglers, they are highly prized as sportfish in Europe, as they are often excellent fighters. A growing number of anglers in the US are becoming interested in carp as a sportfish. Although flavor varies with the quality of the water from which fish were captured, their sheer abundance has made them an important food fish in some areas. Carp are presence in nearly all of our rivers, streams, and reservoirs. They are omnivorous (eating both plants and animals), their bottom feeding habits causing great destruction of aquatic resources.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
Carp Fishing The Common carp or European carp (Cyprinus carpio), family Cyprinidae is a freshwater fish most closely related to the Common Goldfish (Carassius auratus), which was bred in China from the Prussian Carp. The Common carp originated from Western Asia and spread throughout China, Siberia and the Danube basin, Australia. Carp was spread throughout Europe as a food fish, and has now been introduced to all continents and some 59 countries.

    The common carp is a heavy-bodied minnow with barbels on either side of the upper jaw. Carp have stocky bodies, large scales, and range in color from dark olive bronze on the top of the back to lighter silvery yellow on the belly. The color intensity varies to blend with the color of the water or the habitat background. Typically, color varies from brassy green or yellow, to golden brown, or even silvery. The belly is usually yellowish-white. The dorsal and ventral fins have a stiff-barbed spine at the front followed by soft flexible 17-21 rays. Common carp can grow to a maximum length of 5 feet (1.5 m), a maximum weight of over 80 lb (37.3 kg), and an oldest recorded age of at least 75 years. They have good eyesight and are sensitive to sound, and disturbances in or near the water. The carp has two fleshy barbels on each side of the mouth. They have sensitive smell/taste organs in and around the snout that assist in feeding. They are sight and smell feeders, eating insects, seeds, and other small organisms and plants in clear water, and relying on their sensitive sense of smell to locate food in turbid waters. The mouth and lips are adapted to extend like a short tube for sucking up food.

The Common Carp is easily identified by regular scales over the whole of its body. They have an orderly scale pattern and slender bodies, but those bred in captivity and well-fed have a more rotund body shape.
The Mirror Carp is identified by irregular scales dotted haphazardly over its body. Anglers have subdivided the patterns of the scales into easily identifiable descriptive patterns. Fully-scaled Mirror Carps are completely covered in scales of different sizes. Mirror carp generally have a fuller and more rounded shape than Common Carp. A large swollen belly is not uncommon in larger specimens. The colors in a Mirror Carp are dependent on the water in which it lives. Gravel pit carp can be almost black, whereas those found in clay ponds can be a light gray or brown with large areas of red, orange or gold coloring.
The Leather Carp is completely devoid of any scales, but some have scales along the dorsal line and at the wrist of the tail. The anal fin often has fewer rays and the dorsal fin is often imperfect.
There are 3 recognized varieties of Cyprinus carpio:
Common, Mirror and Leather Carp.
Carp Cyprinus carpio varieties

Habitat and Habits
    Carp prefer slow moving rivers and streams and warm lake habitats with abundant vegetation. They feed on a wide variety of plant and animal food items from the waters surface, from vegetation and rocks, and from stream and lake bottoms. Shallow sloughs and marshes, adjacent to stream channels or lakes, are preferred breeding habitats. Common carp prefer large bodies of slow or standing water and soft, vegetative sediments. A schooling fish, they prefer to be in groups of 5 or more. They natively live in a moderate climate in fresh or brackish water with a temperature range of 35 – 85 F. Common Carp will willingly survive winter in a frozen over pond, as long as there remains some free water. Carp can with stand summer water temperatures in the low 90's degrees Fahrenheit for short periods. Ideal temperature is 68 °F.

    Common carp begin spawning in late April and continue into June over aquatic vegetation. Spawning areas are typically shallow, weedy bays with water depths of one to four feet. Spawning carp in shallow waters create a lot of commotion, and can be easily observed. Several males may spawn with a single female at a time and large females release between 100,000 and up to 2,000,000 sticky eggs over the spawning period. The eggs adhere to submerged vegetation or the bottom substrate. The adults abandon the eggs, which hatch in four to five days. After hatching young carp remain in the shallow, backwater areas until they are 3 to 4 inches in length, feeding during this time mainly on small crustaceans. Carp grow to four or five inches their first year of life, reach sexual maturity in three to four years, and have a life span of 9 to 20 years and longer.

Fishing Methods.     Bottom fishing with dough, potatoes, mollusks (clams), maggots or earthworm, nightcrawlers. The common carp can eat a vegetarian diet of water plants, but prefers to scavenge the bottom for insects, crustaceans (including zooplankton), and benthic worms. When fishing for carp in a shallow lake or pond, use bread or corn. If your bobber fishing for them with the bait on the bottom allows the bobber to continuously go under until it doesn’t come back up. Carp suck the bait in 3 or 4 times before actually eating the bait. When fishing off shore you can use bells to tell when you’re getting a bight. Pole fishing is the No 1 method used by both the Match and pleasure anglers in Europe on fishing carp, it has become a most successful technique. Pellet and paste on the long pole or margin pole works best with sweet corn or banded pellet a close second. The pole should be fished 9-11 meters for best results. In the summer does not neglect an inside line, especially for margin feeding carp in the evenings.
    Carp flavor varies with the quality of the water from which fish were captured; their sheer abundance has made them an important food fish in some areas. Carp are generally considered a nuisance by North American anglers; they are highly prized as sports fish in Europe, as they are often excellent fighters. A growing number of anglers in the US are becoming interested in carp as a sports fish.
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