Mention “carp” fish and most folks will either turn up their noses, make some negative remark, or simply have a blank stare.
Common carp have been around for years. They are native to Europe and Asia, but now have been introduced and spread throughout most of the world, except the Middle East and the arctics. They have created problems in some streams and lakes, but for the most part have been controlled.
Now new types or carp like the silver and bighead carp are increasing problems in the United States. The main problem is they compete with native game fish for food. And, jumping silver carp can be dangerous to boaters. They get sizable and can strike a boater, causing injury.
Recently, someone asked me about the carp, which has been around the Midwest for many years.
Back in 1653 Izaak Walton wrote in The Compleat Angler, "The Carp is the queen of rivers; a stately, a good, and a very subtle fish; that was not at first bred, nor hath been long in England, but is now naturalised."
Carp are variable in terms of angling value, In Europe, even when not sought for food, they are eagerly sought by anglers, being considered highly prized coarse fish that are difficult to catch. They are considered a sport fish, probably equal to largemouth bass in the U.S.
The UK has a thriving carp (rough fish) angling market. It is the fastest growing angling market in the UK, and has spawned a number of specialized carp angling publications.
As a kid growing up in Eastern Illinois, there were no public lakes. Our fishing was primarily limited to creeks and rivers like Big Creek and the Wabash River.
While carp never have been near the top of my list of good eating fish, as a youngster when we caught small carp (up to about three pounds) in clear cool spring water and fried by my mother, they were pretty good eating.
My dad had a recipe for dough balls he used for carp bait. He added a bit of strawberry jello and the carp seemed to favor the concoction.
I also recall during later years when fishing in Minnesota with Indian guides, we never fished for carp, but if we caught one, the guides wanted to keep it. They would smoke the carp and they were tasty.
Today in the U,S, carp are considered a rough fish, as well as damaging to naturalized exotic species, but with sporting qualities. Many states' departments of natural resources are beginning to view the carp as an angling fish instead of a maligned pest.
Groups such as Wild Carp Companies,[ American Carp Sociiety and the Carp Anglers Group promote the sport and work with fisheries departments to organize events to introduce and expose others to the unique opportunity the carp offers freshwater anglers. The groups promote tournaments and special fishing events throughout the country.
CarpAnglingGroup.com has considerable carp fishing information, including “Tips and Advice for Beginners.”