From the shores of Lake Erie through Columbus and down to the Ohio River, common carp are in a majority of Ohio’s waters. Originally found in China and Europe, carp were stocked nationwide in the 1900s; thus, they are considered to be an exotic species. However, despite numerous attempts to eliminate them, carp have survived due to their tolerance for a variety of environmental conditions. Despite their appearance, size and shape, these large fish are related to the minnows in your bait bucket and are, in fact, the world’s largest minnow.
There are two simple tips to remember when fishing for carp:
1. carp are easily spooked, so take care not to cause too many disruptions while fishing.
2. carp “hit” by taking the bait and swimming away quickly. To make sure you hook the fish without losing your rod, try keeping the bail of your reel open or in “free spool”. This will let the carp run with your bait and not feel any drag resistance so you can get a good hookset.
Carp are very hardy fighters, so your gear must be able to withstand their fury. Make sure you have longer, medium-weight rods (6 feet plus) spooled with plenty of 8- to 12-pound line.
Summer: June-mid September
Carp can be caught on traditional bottom rigs using popular baits such as dough balls, cornmeal or boilies. For a switch, carp can be caught on the surface using baits that float such as dog food, floating bread pieces or goldfish crackers.
Because of temperatures, carp mainly feed during the cooler times of day (dusk, dawn). Focus on areas adjacent to cooler, deeper waters such as weed beds, flooded timber or cattails pads.