Fishing for Carp while they’re spawning can be a very controversial topic among carp anglers around the world. Some are of the mindset that you should not fish for carp at all while they’re spawning and you should just leave them to it. On the other hand, many anglers do target carp during spawning times and we will highlight in this article how to do so safely and successfully
Can You Catch Carp While They’re Spawning?
Yes, it is quite possible to catch carp while they are actively spawning. However, it’s not the spawning fish that will be feeding. Spawning is triggered mainly by water temperatures and environmental conditions. Some fish will spawn sooner than others, but most carp will begin staging around the same time. This will cause the fish to group up in certain areas and create great angling opportunities as the staging fish compete for food.
Not only will there be more fish within range of shore but the females will be at their largest and anglers will see some of the biggest fish caught at this time of the year.
Why You Should Not Fish for Carp When They’re Spawning?
I believe this point of view comes from areas of the world where there are many paid lakes. As some lake owners rely on fish health and populations to sustain income and the health of the fish in the lakes themselves, it is common courtesy to not target actively spawning fish. Some lakes will close fishing entirely during the prime spawning conditions.
It can also depend on the size of the water body itself, in smaller lakes, the majority of fish will spawn at once as temperatures rise, hence it would be best to leave them be. In larger bodies of water, the temperatures and environmental conditions will vary so fish will spawn at different times.
As I’m from North America I have an entirely different point of view. With the vast waters that I target, there is a long period during spring where fish constantly move in and out of actively spawning. There will be some that are spawning, some that are staging (preparing to spawn) and some that have already spawned. As there are so many wild fish, there will always be some actively feeding and ready to be caught.
How to Tell When Carp are Spawning?
There are some key giveaways to watch for when carp are spawning. Some are quite obvious and others are a little more subtle.
- Multiple fish thrashing and sloshing about in shallow water.
- Many smaller fish (males) following one larger fish (female).
- Many fish swimming in tight groups (almost touching one another).
- Very murky water with freshly uprooted floating vegetation and weeds.
- Water temperatures between 18 degrees Celcius and 22 degrees Celcius as these are optimal temperatures to trigger spawning.
- Depending on where in the world you fish spawning can occur anywhere from early May to late July.
- Fish cruising the shallows that are not stopping to inspect bait. Carp are naturally a curious fish and will stop to inspect most baits, when many cruise on by without a sniff this means that they have other things on their mind.
These are just a few factors to watch out for so you can adjust your tactics to ensure fish safety and more success on the bank.
Where to Fish for Carp When They’re Spawning?
So you’ve found carp that are actively spawning but you still want to catch some. Your main thought is to cast where you see the most fish but this is the only time of the year that this advice should be avoided.
The carp that are currently spawning will be preoccupied and will most likely ignore any bait presented in the shallower spawning grounds. Casting here could also harm the fish and end up in foul hooking some. I tend to look for areas where the “staging” fish will be holding and still feeding opportunistically.
Be on the lookout for hot spots such as:
- Fish occasionally rising in deeper water.
- An area where the murky water turns clear. This happens quite often and is easy to discern. Not only will staging fish be hanging out in these areas but they will more easily spot your bait in the clearer water.
- Deeper pockets of water off main spawning flats. Fish will school up in these areas and occasionally feed before moving into shallow water to spawn.
So now that you know where to fish for carp during the spawn we will outline some key tactics to employ to fish safely during these conditions.
Important Tactics to Use While Fishing Around Spawning Carp
Some choice tactics and rigs are highly recommended to ensure fish are safe and to prevent foul hooking fish that are actively spawning.
- Be sure to target areas where the fish aren’t currently spawning as outlined above. Deeper than 6 feet is recommended.
- Use a bottom bait or surface bait instead of a popup or zig rig. This will prevent foul hooking cruising and spawning fish in the water column.
- Use a Highly Visible Bait, fish that are staging will be able to notice it easier and come by for a closer look.
- Release the fish as soon as possible after landing them, try to avoid holding them for any length of time in a keepnet or sling. At this time of the year more than any, temperature changes from being handled out of the water or in warmer shallows have a greater impact on the overall health of the fish.
So when targeting carp during the spawn the most important advice is to use common sense. Use the information provided in this article to judge where the best location is to fish to ensure carp can spawn safely and undisturbed.
Fishing just before or during the spawn can be rewarding. I’ve noted that some of the bigger fish hold off in the staging areas as mentioned above and spawn last. These are the fish that will result in most anglers’ Personal Bests.