Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
Irish Record 14.24 kgs taken on 26.10.2014 by Aaron Cummins at Loughgall, County Armagh
Carp appear in a variety of colours, body shapes and scale patterns. I hasten to add that this is a basic description of a species that has had volumes written about it! The two carp most likely encountered in Ireland are the Common (usually fully scaled) and the Mirror (enlarged scales, sometimes in rows, or haphazard). The upper lip protrudes the lower, the upper having four barbules, two of which are elongated. It has a long dorsal fin and short anal fin. The tail is obviously forked.
Where to catch
Carp are not indigenous to Ireland, but originated in Asia and were eventually brought from Europe by monks, who reared them in stock ponds as a source of food. Compared to the UK, Irish carp angling is relatively new, but as each season passes it seems, it becomes more widespread and a popular angling discipline.
The “Lough” in County Cork is un-doubted the most popular Carp water in Ireland, regularly producing fish of a healthy size including many double-figure specimens and previous Irish records. This success is due to local anglers, and in particular, Sid Kennedy managing the water and protecting the stocks within.
As time passes, many more waters are containing stocks of Carp, either from legal imports of quarantined fish, or illegal movement of fish from one water to another.
When to catch
It is fair to say that, given the right conditions, Carp may be caught throughout the year. Some of my more successful trips have been during the depths of winter, when a prolonged southerly storm has a combined effect of raising the air temperature and oxygenating the stagnating water. This is usually the switch that tempts Carp into feeding and can be extremely rewarding.
Carp will eat almost anything, this is one of the reasons they are such a dominant specie. The fashionable approach is with boilies of every size, shape colour and flavour, which work very well, but it pays not to forget old favourites such as sweet corn, bread flake, worms, maggots, trout pellets, artificial baits and many of the large seed and nut particle baits.
Where do you start with this one? It is a whole book in itself! Float fishing and stalking have their place, but ledgering accounts for most captures. The method feeder works well, or a small PVA bag of samples attached to the rig, fished over a bed of free samples, which is standard practice.
Rods from 1.5-2.5 lbs t/c are typical, large capacity reels loaded with at least 12lb b/s nylon or braid, but a great deal depends on the venue. Factors to be taken into account include likely size of fish to be encountered, nature of the water regarding clear areas and “snaggy” marks, distance required to cast etc. These will dictate choice of tackle required. Brush up on rigs, hair rigs, popular bait on a particular water etc. It pays to do some homework.
Always carry the recommended Carp equipment, including un-hooking mat, suitable landing net, weigh sling etc, and check and adhere to local rules, they are in place for good reason.