Carpe Diem

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

a baited site within a few hours, but it may take a day or more before you see a large concentration of fish. Carp are very wary, so approach your baited site carefully to avoid spooking them.

Fishing in the backs of coves, between depths of two to eight feet, seems to work best. However, carp are such aggressive feeders that just about any site near shore can be productive. Make sure the area is clear of obstacles that could hang you up when you are fighting a big fish.

After baiting a site, put a few kernels of corn on your hook, cast it out and let your bait sink to the bottom. Carp are primarily bottom feeders and tend to feed more actively during morning and evening hours, but midday can also be productive.

After casting the bait, I generally close the bail on my spinning reel, but I don't reel the line tight. Instead, I leave a little slack in my line and set the hook quickly when the fish starts to tighten the line. Sometimes they just "tap" the line and move it slightly, so be prepared to set the hook. Once a carp feels the hook, it won't hold the bait for very long.

Experience has taught me not to leave a fishing pole unattended. Large carp can easily pull a rod and reel into the water. It's also not unusual to catch other fish such as bluegill, freshwater drum, channel catfish and buffalo while fishing for carp. Jeffrey and Nicholas, my sons, have caught several large channel catfish while fishing for carp.

Over two days, we commonly catch 150 to 250 pounds of carp and buffalo. Most fish run between five and 10 pounds, but we have caught several fish up to 30 pounds. Some of the larger carp and buffalo we've caught qualified for Master Angler Awards. The Master Angler Program was established by the Department to recognize the accomplishments of anglers who catch large fish in Missouri. To qualify for a certificate from this program, carp must be at least 32 inches long or weigh at least 20 pounds. To find out more about The Master Angler Program and the State Record Fish Program, contact any Conservation Department office.

Where to Fish for Carp

Finding a place to fish for carp is easy because they live in most lakes and large reservoirs and many streams. Our family primarily fishes for carp at Lake of the Ozarks, but you can find carp in almost any body of water close to home.

Our streams and big rivers provide some of the best carp fishing. In streams, carp prefer deep holes with little current near some type of cover, such as logs and brushpiles. In the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, look for carp in shallow backwater areas, side channels and scour holes or around dikes.

Just bait a site, wait for the fish to move in and then hold on to your rods! It won't be long before you're hooked on a cure for your "summertime fishing blues."

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