It’s summertime, and nothing could be better than introducing a youngster to the great outdoors using a successful fishing trip as the vehicle. Though adults look down on certain fish and the methods of catching them, all kids want is to catch something. Therefore, the lowly carp might be the answer to opening a new world to the young people around you!
In spite of its lack of beauty and bad reputation in North America, the carp can be both fun to catch and good to eat. This hardy fish must, however, be viewed with the proper perspective. In fact, due to my understanding and admiration for the species, my customers and I have had hours of fun with these big European minnows when other fish were almost impossible to catch.
The carp deserves a little respect. After all, in the past 200 years, they have been taken from their comfortable mid-European homes to many different environments and have survived as well in the extreme heat of equatorial Africa as in some of the coldest areas in Russia.
An example of their toughness was noted several years ago while fishing at Lanier with Steve Sloan, who holds many line class world records. He landed an over five pound carp on two pound test line. Since Steve wasn’t sure of the record for carp on that size line, the fish was put in the livewell and brought back to the dock. A few phone calls, however, revealed a larger one was already in the books.
Several days earlier, my daughter P.J. had asked me to get her a goldfish. Since an empty 55 gallon fish tank was at home, and carp and goldfish look similar and are in the same family, I decided just to leave the fish in my livewell and take it home to my daughter.
When I arrived home, however, the carp was forgotten until the following morning and I was certain that when I peeked into the livewell, the smell would knock me over. Boy, did I have a surprise! The carp was laying flat on the bottom of the drained compartment, but his gill cover was moving slowly. Even though I thought it useless, I decided to try and revive the dry carp in the 55 gallon fish tank. As soon as it was put in the water, the carp made itself at home, and lived for over three years in that confined area. My family became quite attached to our pet carp, “Goldie”.
The carp is not only a great survivor, but also is considered a delicacy in many countries. Surprisingly, the United States is one of the few places in the world where carp are not considered a great food fish.
Lanier supports great numbers of carp, reaching weights of 30 pounds or more. Those in the five to 10 pound class, however, are the most fun to catch near shorelines or from docks all over the lake.
During most of the year, carp are caught all over the lake with many different baits. I’ve caught them from less than one foot deep on jig and worm combinations to as deep as 150 feet trolling for trout with spoons. The most consistent method is with some type of live or prepared bait. These include nightcrawlers, leeches, corn, French fries, dough balls, and many commercially prepared baits. Use a simple spinning or spincast rod and reel with a small hook (#2 circle), baited with almost anything, and a split-shot weight pinched on the line approximately 6 inches above the hook to hold it down on the bottom.
When bank fishing, pre-baiting can easily draw carp to a certain area of the shoreline. Take a loaf of bread and with your fingers, roll the whole loaf into small balls and toss them around the area that you plan to fish. Enhance your chances by adding the contents of several cans of dog or cat food to the mix. Within an hour, most of the area carp should have moved much closer.
The great thing about carp is that they can be found in every part of Lake Lanier at any depth. They give many bank fishermen their best thrills of the year, especially beginners looking for the excitement of a catch.