Igniting the Spark for Carp

The Common Carp is a species that guarantees a personal best in size

One of the most rewarding aspects of fishing is introducing others to a new experience or a new species. These firsts and memories can often last a lifetime. Most of us can remember back to our first trip out on the water, or that giant fish of a lifetime that may or may not have gotten away. There is one species that can almost guarantee a personal best in size, and it’s one that is highly overlooked in Canada. Yes, I’m talking about the common carp!

Although I was introduced to fishing at a young age, it wasn’t until five years ago that I had my very first carp experience. A friend showed me the ropes and the basics of carp fishing, along with the specialized equipment designed for them. Over the years since then, I’ve collected some of this gear, including: carp-specific rods, Baitrunner reels, rigs, specialized baits, and some other items like a carp net, rod pod, landing mat, weigh sling, bite alarms, and more.

After getting the essentials, everything else is a nice bonus to have. I started off very basic with what I could afford, and I continue to collect more each year. There is a lot of really unique equipment out there, especially from Europe, where carp is the most popular species. More and more of this gear is becoming available in Canada as interest grows.

I enjoy focusing on carp during the spring months, and this year invited some friends along to experience it for the first time. My friend and fellow writer, Justin Hoffman, joined us for a Lake Ontario carp adventure last month. Carp fishing is typically done from shore, as set lines are used with presentations sitting on bottom where these fish are known to feed. It’s an enjoyable and social way to fish as we typically bring along camp chairs, snacks, snacks—oh, and snacks. Ha, ha!

It’s fun chatting away while waiting for a bite, but everything changes in an instant the moment someone’s line goes screaming with a carp on. Depending on the way the fish decides to run, sometimes it means clearing other lines out of the way. It’s fun with a group and really becomes teamwork in the heat of the moment. Justin is certainly no stranger to multispecies fishing, but he was blown away at the power of these fish and was quickly converted to the carp side!

Another adventure took place just a few weeks ago on the St. Lawrence River at Mille Roches Campground in Long Sault. My fishing partner Eric joined me along with Justin, my friend Jenn, two of her sons, and her nephew. My hope for this adventure was for everyone to land their first carp. Justin stopped by on Friday afternoon for a few hours and landed himself a nice common carp. A great start to our trip!

(Photo credit: Ashley Rae)

The following morning, Jenn arrived with the boys. We spent the remainder of the weekend relaxing at our beautiful waterfront campsite with our lines in the water waiting for the next bite. With the spawn underway, we did not get as much action as on our previous trip to the park as the fish seemed to have other activities in mind. The first morning however kicked things off to a good start for Jenn and crew with Chase landing a big ol' 28-pounder! That is a heck of an introduction to carp fishing and was Chase’s biggest fish to date. This was quite exciting! We snapped a few photos and sent this fish back.

(Photo credit: Ashley Rae)

We didn’t get a ton of action throughout the weekend but we still managed to convert a couple more anglers to the carp side as Ryland landed a nice 18-pounder and Jenn landed her first too. The smiles and the chaos when the fish were on were well worth the wait.

Carp are often disrespected in the angling community but ask of any of these anglers and I’m sure they’ll smile when they describe the experience and what it’s like reeling these powerful fish in. It is a blast, and you can’t say that catching big fish isn’t fun!

(Photo credit: Ashley Rae)
About Ashley Rae

Ashley Rae is a year-round multi-species angler residing in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a full-time fishing writer and content creator. Ashley is passionate about chasing anything with fins from her boat, kayak, from shore, or on the ice

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