Carpe Diem

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

Most anglers know that fishing for some popular game species often slows down during the summer. The fish are hard to find and, when you do find them, they're finicky. No wonder anglers sometimes say they have the "summertime fishing blues."

Keeping kids interested in fishing at this time of year can be especially tough. That's how it was with my kids until several years ago when we decided to "seize the day."

A solution to our summertime fishing blues materialized one sweltering day when my son, Nicholas, and I were bass fishing at Lake of the Ozarks. The fishing was particularly slow, probably because of the heat wave we were experiencing, and I could see Nicholas was fast losing interest. Before long, I heard him mutter, "Where are all the big fish?"

A few minutes later, we saw a large fish swim by and start searching for food in the shallow water near shore. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the answer to our problem. This species meets all the requirements necessary to provide any youngster with plenty of fishing action. The fish have an insatiable appetite, grow large, are easily caught, put up an incredible fight and can be found almost everywhere in the state. One of their best qualities, however, is that they continue to feed voraciously throughout the summer.

You've probably guessed by now that the fish I'm talking about is the common carp.

Though native to Asia, common carp were introduced in the U.S. as early as 1831. From 1876 to 1895, this exotic species was stocked in several North American states, including Missouri. At the time, carp were a popular sport fish in Europe. They soon lost popularity in the U.S., but they were already well established. The carp is now one of the most widespread and abundant large fish in the state.

The average adult carp weighs between two and eight pounds, but fish exceeding 20 pounds are very common. The Missouri state-record carp, caught in 1996, weighed 50 pounds, six ounces.

As with most exotics, carp have been detrimental to our native species. However, they are here to stay, so we might as well enjoy them. In addition to being edible, carp are also fun to catch. After all, that's why they were introduced here in the first place.

At first my wife and kids were skeptical about carp fishing, but I took to it with gusto.

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