Carp are one of the most popular fish to catch in many parts of the world; they put up a good fight, and grow to very large size (over 100 lbs!). However, they are known for being very picky when it comes to getting bites. So, What do Carp Eat? And how can this information help you catch more?
Keep reading, the results may surprise you!
Table of Contents
What Do Carp Eat, Naturally?
Carp are opportunistic bottom feeders and eat a wide variety of foods such as insects, aquatic vegetation, crustaceans, worms, and algae. They use a special organ, called the olfactory rosette to locate food. Anglers often use artificial baits such as corn, or other homemade concoctions with a strong smell and dough-like consistency when fishing for carp.
Whether you’re interested in learning more about carp or want to catch them on your next fishing adventure, you’re in the right place. In this article, you’ll learn more about what carp eat in their natural habitat and the baits you can use to increase your chances of catching carp. I’ll also introduce you to some of the best carp baits on the market today.
Carp and related sub-species like Koi have a diverse diet that includes plants, fish, and everything in between. Heck, I’ve heard stories of carp being caught on Ivory soap, sponges, and even pieces of old leather! But what do they eat in the wild? What sort of natural baits do carp eat?
Carp use a special feature on their nose called the olfactory rosette to ‘smell’ through the water columns and locate potential food sources. This highly specialized organ means that carp seek out very select food sources, which makes them tricky to catch by anglers!
Here’s a list of what carp eat in nature:
- Insects and their larvae. We’ve all seen small insects floating on top of the water. Carp love munching on small insects, larvae, eggs, and more. All insects are fair game for a hungry carp, so you should include insects in your bait collection.
- Water plants. Carp especially love small plants near the bottom of the water. They focus on small stems and seeds, particularly those that have fallen off the plant. They make easy targets, and carp can quickly eat and digest them. Plants are often a filler snack in between bigger meals.
- Tiny crustaceans. Planktonic crustaceans are a big part of a carp’s diet. They’re loaded with protein, which makes them an excellent choice for omnivorous fish. However, small carps often don’t chase large crustaceans since they can’t eat them.
- Smaller fish. Large carp will occasionally eat tiny fish. Much like the planktonic crustacean course, small fish are only on the menu for big carp. Carp come in all sizes, and the larger ones tend to be good hunters. So, baby fish are no match for a large hungry carp!
- Corn. Carp have a strong obsession with corn. It might seem weird, but carp love its color, texture, and scent. Knowing this fact, many companies have created corn-like baits. There’s artificial corn, corn-scented spray, corn flavoring, and more.
As you can see, carp have plenty of natural food sources found throughout the water. Whether they’re enjoying water plants or insects, the wide assortment makes it easy for carp to get everything they need in their diet. If you’re ready to learn the best carp baits the next time you go fishing, proceed to the next section.
What Are the Best Artificial Carp Baits?
While it might seem simple to use natural bait found in a carp’s environment, that’s not always possible. Nobody wants to dive to the bottom of a lake to find the right bait (or maybe you do?) Fortunately, there’s a lot of baits on the market to choose from.
If you’re ready to catch carp and stop spending time waiting for a bite on low-end bait, read the list below for out top 5 best carp baits:
Scent and appearance are two of the most important traits when choosing a bait, which is why the Xhope TPR Simulation Fake Soft Baits are an excellent choice for carp anglers. They look, feel, and smell like corn. Attach a ball to the end of your line, cast it into the water, and watch as the carp quickly bite it.
Another great benefit of these corn-like baits is they’re environmentally-friendly. Many places ban using corn for fishing for various reasons, so you need to use eco-safe materials when fishing. If they fall off the line, you don’t want to be responsible for polluting the area with plastic. Each bottle comes with 30 balls, though you can upgrade to 50.
The Wicked Carp Company Hard Dough Carp Bait is a top-notch choice for those using hair rigs. Don’t use this with a traditional hook. These protein-dense bites are perfect for carp because they smell, look, and taste delicious.
If you’re trying to catch big carp, this might be among the best choices on the market. These hard dough bites have everything a large carp desires. You can also catch catfish with this bait. The packed design is made to stay on the hair rig, even during far casts and aggressive reels. You can confidently cast the line without worrying about the bait flying off.
If you want to hook some bait on your line and start fishing without any waiting time, the Magic 22-24 Carp Bait should be near the top of your list. This bait is as plug-and-play as it gets. Remove one from the pouch, attach it to the hook (ensure the whole point is covered), and cast the line into the water.
These durable baits are made to withstand heavy currents, far casting, and aggressive reeling. Their size makes them an excellent choice for both small and large carp.
The Phecda Sport Smell Carp Fishing Bait comes in various scents, including sweet corn, strawberry, sweet potatoes, and apple. Each one is color-coated, so you know what you’re choosing.
These floating balls attract carp from below the surface. So, if you cast close to the dock or your boat, you’ll see them before they bite. Soak them in your favorite bait scent (we’ll cover one in the next section), or use the stock scent.
Last but not least, the Pro Cure Sweet Corn Scent Bait Oil is a winner for hundreds of anglers. If you have the right bait but want to make it more enticing for local carp, use this spray to coat the bait. They’ll come swimming from far away!
You can marinate your baits or inject them before hooking them onto the line. Either solution is an excellent way to improve your chances of catching carp. This scent is stronger than real sweet corn, so what’s not to love? It’s an excellent solution for experts and beginners alike.
Whether you prefer using your own bait with the scented oil or attaching imitation corn to the end of your line, there’s something for every angler on this list.
Something as simple as changing your bait can make a world of difference when you’re fishing for carp.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Is The Best Homemade Carp Bait?
When it comes to homemade carp baits, the possibilities are endless. Most anglers have their own ‘secret’ recipe but it usually involves some type of cheap grain (dough, corn, bread, oats etc.) and binding product (Jell-O, molasses, eggs, cheese, oil. etc).
Do Carp Eat Worms?
Yes, carp do eat worms and they can be caught on worms when fishing. In the wild, carp will often feed in the muddy sediment of the lake bottom and look for red worms, leeches, and even earthworms.
Do Carp Eat Fish?
Fish are not a common food source for Carp, although they have been known to eat fish eggs and larvae; however, they rarely pursue baitfish as a predator.
Do Carp Like Cheese?
Cheese is a popular bait choice for carp fisherman mainly due to its strong scent, and its ability to be molded around a hook in a “cheese ball” or “bait ball”.
Do Carp Eat Bread?
Yes, carp do eat bread and in small ponds or lakes they are often trained to eat bread and crackers. This is very popular in urban settings such as city parks and canals.
Do Carp Eat Algae?
Yes, Algae and other aquatic vegetation are some of the most common food sources for carp. In fact, many species of carp are introduced to control the spread of invasive aquatic vegetation such as hydrilla.
Carp fishing is very popular in places like Europe and South Africa. It’s growing in popularity in North America and for good reason! Carp fishing requires a special understanding of what these prehistoric fish eat, and precise tactics to catch them on rod and reel.
The next time you’re looking for a change of pace, try fishing for these gentle giants and see if you can entice them with a bite. Fair warning: Carp fishing is addicting!
Want to wrangle with some other giant bottom feeders? Try Fishing for Catfish with Live Bluegill.
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