How to Find Carp – Guide to Scouting Carp Fishing Locations
I learned how to find carp when I was younger and worked in an outdoor environment. Luckily I worked and spent long hours close to a large body of water that was filled with carp. I would spot carp daily in their natural environments and note certain key aspects, such as water conditions and environments that are carp magnets.
How to Find Carp?
The main key to finding carp is fairly simple. Whether it’s a well-known spot or a completely new location, you’re fishing. Simply put, you need to look to see where the fish are most active at the given time you are fishing for them. Watch for fish surfacing at sunrise or sunset.
There is certainly more to it than just staring out over the water. This, coupled with the points below, will greatly increase your chances of finding and catching carp. More time spent watching will increase your watercraft and help determine what types of aquatic habitats carp prefer.
Finding carp can be quite a daunting task. Breaking the process down into steps can simplify the task. Over time beginners to carp angling will find it easier to find carp fishing locations as they will be more aware of the habitats carp prefer.
Scouting Carp Fishing Locations with Google Earth
When targeting a new body of water, it is always a wise idea to scout beforehand with google earth(maps). Once the satellite view is enabled, anglers can see underwater features in shallow and clear water. It is also easy to tell where shallow (light-coloured areas) drop off into deeper water (dark-coloured areas).
I like to print off a copy of the satellite image for reference before visually scanning an area. Laminating the map will greatly increase its lifespan while also allowing you to mark notes and features with an erasable marker.
I grew up fishing sections of the St. Lawrence River in Canada, where land had been flooded when the Seaway was created. It is quite interesting when one looks closer at google earth’s overhead satellite imagery. The old highways, railroad tracks, house foundations and other man-made structures are still visible in the clear waters. I found that the old highways and railroad tracks naturally channel the fish into certain areas.
While studying Fish and Wildlife in College, I had hands-on experience with trap netting and sampling fish populations. Trap nets are set against the bank or natural features in lakes, and the fish that swim along the bank are channelled into the nets. Understanding this fish behaviour can greatly increase your chances of finding them in these locations. Be sure to mark break walls, submerged highways, submerged railroads or any other natural features like them on your map.
Nautical Charts and Depth Contours
Nautical Charts can provide great information in certain locations. In my experience, carp prefer to feed where shallow areas drop off quickly into deeper areas.
Charts with depth contours can allow you to quickly pinpoint these spots. In combination with Google Earth’s overhead satellite imagery, you can mark these areas with greater accuracy.
Visually Scouting Carp Fishing Locations
Visually scanning locations before setting up is a key factor in finding out where the carp are most active. Spotting carp activity and marking it on your map can give you insight into why the carp are in a certain area. Carp are most visual when they are spawning or actively feeding. I find carp tend to jump or surface more often when feeding in certain areas. If you notice a lot of carp jumping in a certain area, be sure to take note for future sessions.
Two key things to look for are small bubbles rising to the surface or areas where clear water becomes murky. These are sure signs that carp are foraging in the area. A hat to shade the sun and polarized sunglasses can greatly increase visibility when scanning for carp activity.
Scanning for possible food sources is a good idea as well. Fruit and nut trees overhanging the water or aquatic vegetation that has been dislodged and floating on the surface are also good indicators of possible carp activity in the area.
If you notice a current in the water, be sure to set your rig upstream from where the carp activity is spotted. This way, the scent from your bait will be carried downstream. Also, carp tend to forage swimming against the current.
Where to Find Carp in Different Weather Conditions
When I first began carp angling, I loved to sight fish in calm waters. Nothing compared to seeing giant fish inhale my bait in the shallows.
- Wind – Over time, I have found that carp prefer to feed on the windy and wavy parts of lakes and rivers. The wave action increases the oxygen levels in the water, thus giving the carp greater energy to forage for food. The waves also disturb the bottom substrate making food readily available for the fish.
- Sun – The warm sunny days of spring can be a magnet for carp. They love to bask on the surface in warmer water temperatures, making it much easier to spot the fish by sight.
- Rain – Rainy days can make it quite difficult to spot fish. The weather alone can make the water murky, and the disruption of the water can make it nearly impossible to spot fish breaking the surface. Don’t let that deter you, as Carp Fishing in the Rain can produce some of the most successful conditions.
In most carp fishing tournaments that I watch, I notice as soon as the weather and wind pick up, so does the carp fishing action.
Scouting for Carp with Underwater Cameras
In recent years underwater cameras have made leaps and bounds in their size and quality. I will briefly touch on the subject here as I plan to write a dedicated article on underwater cameras in the future.
One summer as a student, I worked for Conservation Ontario on a mapping project. We were mapping the bottom of the St. Lawrence River just outside Cornwall, Ontario. We would record water depth, clarity, the bottom substrate and aquatic vegetation. Many hours were spent hunched over an old Aqua Vu model camera screen. It was black and white and barely visible in the bright sunlight.
Today’s cameras come in pocket-size versions or more advanced HD models with 10-inch screens. The newer cameras are also more affordable to the regular angler. I think we will see them used more and more for carp angling. Definitely a great tool for Scouting Carp Fishing Locations.
How many times I’ve sat wondering how exactly my rig was sitting on the bottom of the area I had chosen to fish. With underwater cameras, we can not only see how our rig is presented but also how fish react to it and what exactly the bottom substrate around our bait consists of.
Finding Carp with Drones
Similar concept to underwater cameras. With the technology advancing and the price dropping, I see more and more anglers using drones in their fishing videos on youtube. I could see them becoming a key factor in Scouting for Carp Fishing Locations.
I’ve recently purchased and used a drone myself. They come in handy in certain areas covered with heavy weeds. One can now easily find the open feeding areas and present rigs effectively. Be sure to check local regulations before flying your drone, many areas are restricted due to other air traffic in the area.
Using Fish Finders to Locate Carp
If fishing for carp from a boat, fish finders are a key tool in locating carp. Even the new Panoptix from Garmin can be used from shore, the new technology scans the water in whichever direction the unit is pointed. One could easily spot where the carp are and target areas more accurately with one of these units.
Fishing can get quite pricey when you think of purchasing all these technological items. There are still cheaper alternatives that are quite accurate at conveying some of the same information as these devices.
Plumbing for Depth and Marking Areas
This can simply be done with a weight and a float. First, you attach the float to the end of your line, then attach a sliding lead in front of it. You simply cast the float and weight out to the area you wish to fish, reel in the float until the line is taught, then simply measure the amount of line you let out until the float is visible on the surface. This will give you an approximate depth of the area you plan to fish.
Upon reeling in the weight, you can “feel” for what is on the bottom, whether it be rocks, mud, sand, boulders, etc. Once the weight is to shore, you can inspect it for any vegetation to help you decide if it is a suitable location or not.
There are specialty floats you can buy from carp tackle companies, but in theory, any float will do. The same goes for weights, there are special weights that are heavier with round “grippers” protruding from the bottom to help you better feel the bottom substrate as you reel it in.
Some anglers, once a suitable location is found, tend to leave the marker float out. Having a mark to cast upon greatly increases the accuracy of baiting and fishing.
Night vs. Day Fishing
While researching tournament fishing, it is interesting to note the amount of carp caught during the day compared to the amount caught at night. Surprisingly in most situations, more carp are caught during the night.
Perhaps with the cooler temperatures and cover of dark, carp feel safer coming into shallower waters to feed. Carp as a species, are well adapted to feeding in the dark. Barbels located on either side of their mouth greatly increase their ability to find food with limited vision.
For more specifics, check out this article explaining How to Fish for Carp at Night.
Carp Fishing Journals and Logs
Journals and Fishing Logs are most likely the number one item on this list that has aided me in scouting carp fishing locations successfully.
On every trip out, I log these basic points:
- Date & Time.
- Weather & Temperature.
- Water Depth & Temperature.
- Fish Type, Weight and Length.
- Type of Bait.
Looking back at previous trips and what I had done to be successful in finding carp has made me understand what specifically to look for.
Overall, one can scout carp fishing locations very affordably with the bare minimum of gear. Technological advancements simply aid in knowing for sure what is under the surface. If you stick to the basics, I’m sure you will have as much success as I have.