Introduction

Few freshwater fish polarize Canadian anglers like common carp.
To a growing contingent of fans, like me, carp are a superb quarry with the fight, flair and moxie of a fantastic sport fish. Yet, to other avid anglers, carp are invasive opportunists that mucky up habitat and threaten to crowd out native species.

As a keen multi-species sport fisherman and conservationist, I am receptive to both sides of this debate. My view is that carp, like any non-endemic Canadian sport species, have to be monitored carefully and managed thoughtfully.

In this book, I'm going to embrace the fact that carp are here to stay — and celebrate that nowhere on earth has more diverse or magnificent habitats in which to catch them than our rugged upper half of North America!

Abridged/edited highlights from book introduction...

Bohemian Giants

Who knows how big a shadow the largest carp casts in inland seas like Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario or in the mighty St. Lawrence waterway? I bet the biggest brutes in these massive watersheds have never seen a hook bait and that they move, feed and grow in ways that defy traditional thinking.

Carp also inhabit mid-sized lakes, ponds, and rivers from British Columbia to Eastern Canada. In these less extreme locales, they act more like carp are supposed to – but not entirely. For they break other popular myths including the one that depicts them as strictly warm-water feeders not worth chasing until the long, sultry days of summer.

In fact, my favourite times to fish for carp in Southern Ontario are mid March through April when the water is in the 40s and then again in October through November when shorter days and colder nights zone the fish into tight areas and trigger pre-winter feeding binges. All this eccentricity adds up to some of the most diverse and exciting carp fishing on the planet!

European Superstars

Among the most zealous and capable carp fans here in Canada are immigrant anglers from carp-crazy countries like Britain, France, Germany and many nations of Eastern Europe – where carp are revered as a supreme sport fish. For this reason, carp tackle in Europe is far more advanced in range and complexity than what's readily available in Canada.

For example: feather-weight match rods that can drift delicate floats through deep, meandering pools yet tame cantankerous 10-pound carp on 4-pound test; high-tech bite alarms with LED displays, customizable sound tones and remote controls; padded landing mats; bank-side keep nets; giant rain brollies; titanium rod pods; and an endless mélange of brand-name 'boilies' – gourmet-baked, protein-rich dough balls formulated to titillate the most tight-lipped carp's taste buds. And this list of carp specialty products goes on and on!

Keeping It Simple

As much as I'm a Euro-tackle junky, I'm the first to admit high-end equipment from across the pond
isn't vital to catch carp here in Canada. In fact, I've caught as many memorable carp on my steelhead float gear and sweet corn as I have on all my specialty tackle from Europe. As with any other great sport fish, banking your share of carp comes down to understanding the species – and feeding it something it wants to eat when and how it is willing to eat it.

About This Book

How To Catch Carp

All that said, I want to share with you in this book what I have learned about carp fishing in Canada so far – and to showcase the gear, baits and primary presentations I use to catch carp in different conditions throughout the year.

Creeks To Great Lakes

These techniques address the gamut of carp fishing scenarios from small, clear ponds and streams, to mid-sized lakes and rivers, to giant, intimidating venues like the wind-pounded shores of the Great Lakes and big, deep moving waterways like the Niagara and the
St. Lawrence. And they employ a full range of tactics from bottom
ledgering with heavy bolt-rigs and finesse quiver-tip rigs to delicate float fishing presentations.

Bait Fishing From Shore

My focus here is on the gear and tactics used to fish for carp with bait versus jigs, flies and other artificial lures – another exciting way to take these superb sport fish! I'll defer those topics to another time and place. As well, I'll focus on catching carp from shore as opposed to catching them from a boat – although that's a fantastic option I find myself doing more and more, especially to get to high-bet, big-fish locations that are otherwise inaccessible.

Tackle, Gear & Gizmos

What I'll cover entails some Euro-tackle I'd now hate to be without and that's increasingly available through a network of carp outfitters in Canada and the US. But, I'll keep things as simple as I can. Here and there, I'll visit my tackle bench to show you how to rig key carp accessories as well as how to customize existing equipment for carp-fishing applications. Or you can order whatever you like from Europe. Then your basement will look like mine.

Species Perspective

To kick things off, I'll profile carp globally and then focus in on carp sport fishing in Canada. I admit my perspective is skewed to the prolific carp waters of southern Ontario where I live – but everything I'll cover can be applied to catch carp right across the country.

Not Hotspots

I won't offer a list of what I consider Canada's carp hotspots as, delightfully, there are 10- to 20-pounders to be caught nearly everywhere – with many locations harboring larger fish! Set me free with a float rod and a tin of sweet corn on a clear-water creek with every carp in the single digits and I consider myself a blessed man. On the other hand, when it comes to chasing real Canadian giants, I believe the biggest carp lurk in our very biggest watersheds like the lower Great Lakes and huge, deep river systems like the St. Lawrence.

Baits & Attractors

I'll also look at how to up your chances of putting fish on the bank by sweetening the right tactics with high-appeal hook baits and attractors that pull carp in and get them feeding. This scrutiny covers ground-bait and hook-bait basics and identifies a range of inexpensive and readily available options covering the gamut of Canadian carp-fishing needs.

Tackle Craft, Knots And Last Thoughts

I'll offer some final carp-fishing considerations under the eclectic rubric of Tackle Craft, Knots and Last Thoughts. These include a medley of useful tidbits and maxims from solid line connections, to more on making your own gear and the joys of taking a kid carping.

Tips From Fritz

Throughout the book, I'll bounce topics at hand off my dear friend – and one of the finest carp anglers I know – Fritz Vatter. Fritz and I have been fishing together for most of 20 years and often still don't agree on the ideal size of split shot. But that's probably why we still have fun. Whenever I start to think I've become a carp maven, I spend some time with Fritz on the river bank and usually bulk up on humble pie.

Forever Learning

A caveat about the pages ahead: I have no delusions that the carp tactics presented here are definitive. But I believe they offer a great point of entry for anglers just getting into the sport – and hopefully fresh insights for experienced anglers who have already caught carp fever!

Growing Fellowship

I consider carp-catching an endless work-in-progress and, every season, I'm delighted to break old mindsets and gain new insights from a growing guild of Canadian carpers lining the banks of our rivers, ponds and lakes. Many of them, like me, are keen, multi-species anglers quick to share what they know and eager to learn anything new about carp fishing.

Skills Advancement

I also have no doubt that the time and energy I spend carp fishing has made me a far better all-round angler – from reading water and improving my knots, leader and tackle systems to expanding my skills in still- and moving-water float presentations and fighting big, fast, powerful fish on light line.

Graciously Obsessed

I'm thankful to have had the chance to pursue amazing sport fish in exotic locales from giant, tail-walking tarpon on the fly in the tropics, to saber-toothed tiger fish in Zambia and tackle-busting steelhead and salmon from the Great Lakes to British Columbia. And I wouldn't trade these incredible fishing experiences for anything.

Hooked on Carp

But, dead seriously, if I had to resign myself to chase just one species for the rest of my life – hands-down, it would be carp!

In fact, I snuck down to one of my favourite spots 10 minutes from my home this morning. I put 100 pounds of bodacious, botox-lipped rockets on the bank in four hours. I'm now way behind at work. I've got line burns on my fingertips and wind burn on my cheeks. And I still can't get the smile off my face! If you're at all like-minded, then this book is about us. I hope to meet you one day on the water when the big ones are really rocking!