Lowly carp offer a superb challenge
This month marks the beginning of carp spawning season here in New York, and if you’ve never seen them in the process you’re missing a lot of impressive action. As water temperatures rise, usually about the middle to end of June, carp begin to spawn. Since the Susquehanna River flows only a short distance from my home, I enjoy June evening walks along the riverbank, watching the action.
Carp were originally farm-raised in Asia for food from about 400 B.C., but it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th Century that they made it over from Europe to America. Carp are one of the best known of all fish and are members of the minnow family.
Warm bodies of water with muddy bottoms make ideal habitat for carp and, not surprisingly, our Susquehanna River is home to tens of thousands of them. Because they constantly scour the river or lake bottoms for mollusks, worms, insect larvae and plant material, most fishermen consider them a nuisance fish. Their active feeding habits constantly muddy the water and uproot aquatic plants. In addition, their sheer numbers compete with other popular sport fish such as bass, walleye and catfish. For this reason, it's legal to catch carp by just about any means available. Clubs, spears, and bow and arrow are popular ways for taking carp all across the country.
Carp can reach enormous size, and New York’s state record carp weighed in at 50 pounds, 4 ounces. It was caught in Rensselaer County in the Tomhannock Reservoir.
The carp may be despised here in the Untied States, but this isn’t so in many parts of the world, including Europe. Many European anglers consider the lowly carp a game fish and look at it the same way we Americans view bass, walleye, trout and panfish.
A while back, at the behest of the tourism officials from Erie and Onondaga counties, English fishermen came to upstate New York waters to fish for carp. They found the fishing fabulous and couldn’t wait to get back home to tell their friends about the wonderful carp fishing opportunities in this country.
Although we haven’t done it recently, bowfishing for carp can be extremely challenging and fun. Wading along the shoreline of the Susquehanna River in Apalachin, we found carp to be worthy targets. They are extremely wary and require the stalking ability of a deer hunter. They are not easy to hit, either. The refractive index of the water often results in shots that are either over or under the intended target. Carp may not get any respect here in the United States but to most of the rest of the world they are a highly sought after species and provide a great deal of fishing opportunities regardless of the method used to catch them.