Carp were once an absolute favorite of European anglers, but times have changed. They are becoming much more frequent in American angler circles now, especially since they are a pretty good fish for eating while providing a little sport. Knowing what carp eat gives anglers a solid advantage.
Carp aren’t very picky, and their diets are pretty wide-ranging. Crustaceans, mollusks, worms, insects, and algae round out their favorite foods in natural environments. They’ll also eat other plant matter if it’s available and algae is not.
Carp get pretty big as well, with trophy carp reaching upwards of 50lbs. For the most part, however, they weigh between 6 and 10lbs, which is more than enough to catch 3 or 4 and have a good family meal.
What do Carp Eat
How Carp Feed
Carp are opportunistic fish. They don’t necessarily feed on the bottom all the time (though they are typically bottom feeders). However, they will bottom feed all day long if that’s where the food is at. They also create habits, which is a very good thing to learn for an angler coming into the area for the first time.
If food continues to show up in a specific area, carp will continue returning there until there’s no reason to do so anymore. Carp are simple fish. If you go out to a lake every day and throw bread to the ducks and the geese, what you won’t see are all the carp down below, eating what the birds miss.
When you are ready to start fishing for them, through some dough bait on a hook, and it’s as simple as that. Carp get pretty big, so they spend a lot of time feeding throughout the day. Carps are foragers and they have a unique way of locating their food.
There are several physical aspects of the carp that aid it in finding food, determining if the food is good or not, and consuming the food.
- Barbels: The carp’s barbels feel around to find things directly under them.
- Pectoral fins: These are the carp’s superpower. They are more refined and powerful than other fish, allowing carp to stop on a dime to inspect potential food.
- Mouth: Carp have tube-like mouths for sucking food up, from the side, and directly ahead.
- Teeth: They aren’t sheepshead, but carp do have strong molars for crushing and grinding food.
- Eyes: Carp have outstanding vision, and well-positioned eyes to both detect sources of food and to see a threat in time to flee.
How Often do they Feed
As a large fish, carp will feed throughout most of the day. They will spend a good portion of the day searching for food on the bottom, but they will also feed while suspended in another water column.
When it’s warm outside, carp will often move to the surface and feed there as well, going deep when it grows cold again. It’s a good idea to bottom fish for carp on really windy or rainy days. The shifting water and the waves keep the bottom moving, stirring up the mud.
This reduces the carp’s vision, so they’re not so easily spooked, and attracts them to the bottom to grab any food stirred up in the sediment.
Best Bait for Carp
Carp aren’t that picky, which makes the angler’s life a little easier. There are a variety of baits that work well with carp, so long as you know where the carp are feeding and what they’re feeding on at any given moment.
Summertime is a good time to fish with floating corn. It may be outside of your typical tackle box, but carp drive to the surface in warm weather, and they love to gulp down corn. Nightcrawlers are great too, especially if you know what water column the carp are on.
All you need is a decent weight to put the bait where you want it. It’s one of the simplest fishing setups there is and carp fall for it all the time. Tandem Boilies are very effective. So much so that it’s the most popular bait choice in European circles.
Regular sweet corn and sweet corn pips are commonly used to catch carp as well. They don’t just love corn floating on the surface. They’ll eat the stuff no matter what water column it’s on.
Carp won’t eat absolutely everything in the water but they will certainly eat a lot. While they are not predominately bottom feeders, they are known for spending a lot of time down there. In the warm months, they’ll come closer to the surface to feed, where simple bread and corn baits work wonders.
Carp have several physical attributes that help them locate and consume food. It makes it easier to lure them to the hook, no matter what water column your bait is resting on. Carp get pretty large, and they’ll put up a nice fight, which makes it that much more fun to catch them.
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