The Joy of Carp Fishing.
Carp Fishing in South Africa is probably the most practised freshwater fishing activity.
The joy of Carp Fishing. It is almost impossible to describe and difficult to put into simple words. Carp fishing is an activity that creeps into your blood and once you have caught this, it is almost incurable. To be cured from Carp Fishing however is not high on the list for anyone with experience in this sport.
Carp fishing, along with bass and kurper (tilapia) fishing is probably the top freshwater fishing activities that are practiced in South Africa. Fishing for Carp is a well organized recreational pass-time and is widely practised as a professional sport. This sport enjoys backing from many companies that are promoting this industry.
The question then will be: “Why are so many drawn to Carp Fishing?”.
The answer is as simple. These fish gets big and the preparation that goes into outwitting an old and sizeable Carp makes the wait for the “big one” worth more than it’s weight in gold. I know many people, myself included, that would face the bitter cold of winter, long nights without sleep and all manner of weather conditions, in order to land the big one. Catching a Carp of 10 kilograms or more is what makes the journey a life-long one, and you can be sure that you will always want to go bigger.
For many Carp Anglers the first Carp landed is a memory that can almost be compared to a first kiss and something that will be remembered fondly. The memories will remain well into old age and no matter how many carp your catch in your lifetime, the first one will always be special.
The history of Carp and Carp Fishing in South Africa is a long one that dates back to the 1700’s when Carp was introduced in South Africa. These carp were sometimes imported illegally. The sport has grown from fishing for food with a simple stick and line, to advanced Specimen Carp Fishing with specialized rods, reels, feed and terminal tackle.
A quick overview and profile of the Carp can be found at The Carp Fishing Profile on the I Love Fishing main website. This will go a long way into getting you started in the sport of Carp Fishing, but the learning that takes place through reading and especially experiencing fishing for Carp yourself, is a fantastic road to step onto.
There are a number of important things to look at when fishing for Carp. The location you intend on fishing, the equipment you want to use, and most importantly the safety and care of the Carp. This must be done in order to protect our fishing resources for future generations. This shouldn’t be just for Carp Fishing, but for any type of fishing you intend to get into. We have done a great carp fishing series that includes Carp Fishing Equipment, Carp Fishing Baits and Carp Fishing Terminal Tackle. Be sure to check out the articles for great info on Carp Fishing and especially Specimen Carp Fishing.
Carp fishing has come a long way and this is all the better for these fish. Gone are the days where these fish were just caught and left on the bank to die. In the last couple of years there has been a huge movement towards the practice of catch and release in South Africa. This practice of catch and release has been good for the fish and for the fishermen alike, as it has insured that the fish that are caught have been getting bigger and bigger.
To hear that first scream of a reel on a weekend of fishing, and the subsequent fight and landing of a Carp will hook you, just as you have hooked the fish. The battle is great and the safe release of the Carp even better, with a few photos that serves as your evidence for bragging rights, the cherry on top.
In South Africa the Carp is widely distributed throughout the country and are found in most dams and rivers and can even be found in a lot of private dams. Choosing where to fish for Carp is easy, as most of the dams will have a good stock of Carp. Locating the Carp in a specific dam is a different thing altogether. There are many ways to locate Carp and visual surveillance is often the best. You can often see Carp jumping out of the water. In shallow water you may see their tails sticking out above the water while feeding. In deeper water you may see bubbles as they are grazing on the bottom of a body of water. Carp can often, like many other fish species, be found close to structure in the water, and believe me, they will find a way to wrap your line around any structure they can find when they have been hooked. A proper line strength is highly recommended because of these fish looking for structures to wrap your line around. The truly are dirty fighters.
Carp can be caught with a variety of technique. The carp can be lured in with all types of art-lure such as lead-heads and even practising Fly Fishing with which one can have great success, to traditional angling with corn pips and “mealie-bombs”, to the more advanced Specimen Carp Fishing techniques.
The choice of bait is so wide that it may make matters difficult for the beginner. Baits that are used include from boilies to tigernuts, corn pips, earth worms and many other baits. The easiest way to start is using something that works for the area that you are going to fish. The best way to find out what works is to speak to local fishermen. They may not give you all their secrets, but you are sure to get some basics as a starting point from them. I have had great success when I just started out Carp Fishing, with a simple “sweet white dough” and a conventional mealie-bomb. At a later stage I started to move on to the more advanced baits that are commonly used in Specimen Carp Fishing, such as boilies and tigernuts.
Choosing your equipment, such as your choice of rod and reel is an extremely important factor. These rods and reels can get very expensive, but there are some good choices for the beginner. I have caught many big Carp with very cheap rod and reel combinations, but nowadays I tend to go with equipment that I trust to bring out the fish safely in order to release them safely as well. An industry standard is a rod with a good “backbone” to play the fish with and a reel with a good drag system and a “bait-runner” function to set up and use with your bite alarms. If you are fishing a big body of water you will need a rod that is able to cast your bait out some distance as well and enough line on the spool of the reel in order to reach the fish.
For the safety of the Carp, a good landing net with knot-less weaving, and a good quality unhooking mat, where the Carp can be safely unhooked without grass or dirt getting into their scales is an important aspect to consider, along with the proper handling of the fish. It is very important to keep the Carp wet while out of the water and to release it as quickly as possible back into the water. Remember to take pictures for bragging rights 😉 .
As you may notice there are many things to consider when fishing for Carp. Here the age old saying to keep things simple still applies and then to grow into the sport as you mature into it. One day you might become a master of luring, hooking, landing and releasing these fantastic and at times majestic fish.
I leave you with this Carp Fishing video to wet your appetite and reignite your love for the sport of Carp Fishing. Go catch some Carp!!!