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Carpin’ in Ontario

Ashley Rae with a common carp caught on Lake Ontario.
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Carpin’ in Ontario

3 Day Summer Fishing Getaway

Award-winning resort is located in the heart of the Kawartha Lakes, just north of Peterborough. Get away for three days and nights mid-week to enjoy great fishing on Lower Buckhorn Lake. Package includes breakfast / dinner daily and a boat and motor rental.
From $149

"Bugle-lipped bulldozer" and "ham with an outboard" are just two of the many hilarious nicknames referring to common carp that I’ve heard from other anglers. Anyone who’s reeled in a carp knows it’s one of the best battles you can have in freshwater, and few other species in this neck of the woods can grow quite as large.

Catching fish in the 20- to 30-pound range can be a normal occurrence, and I recently even assisted with landing a fish that was close to 40 pounds! I was quite literally shaking with excitement as the net slid under this monster of a fish and I was not even the one who had caught it! It easily proved to be a personal best for the fairly new carp angler who successfully brought this fish in! The sheer size and power are just a couple of my favourite aspects of carp fishing, but the list goes on.

Carp can prove to be as wary and wise as the finickiest of trout at times, or be as aggressive and gluttonous as a bass or northern pike. They can keep any angler on his or her toes on any given day, which makes it fun to figure them out.

Fortunately for us here in Ontario, carp can be targeted year-round and they are easily accessible from shore. In fact, most diehard carp anglers solely fish for them from shore. I enjoy targeting these fish from the comfort of a camping chair parked along the bank. Add a few good friends set up nearby as we all anxiously watch our lines and wait for the next fish to battle it out with — in my mind that’s an experience that’s pretty hard to beat!

One of my most memorable carp trips involved spending a whole weekend camping out along the St. Lawrence River and fishing for over 72 hours straight, rain or shine. There are many bodies of water that hold carp, and a few of my favourite places to target them so far have included: the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Rideau River, and the Bay of Quinte.

A quick photo before the release.

In Europe, carp fishing is quite literally a multi-million dollar industry and can be best compared to the bass fishing industry here in North America. Carp are currently a virtually untapped resource here in Canada, though but that’s not to say that their popularity isn’t steadily growing. Most North American anglers simply never get exposed to these fish (save for the odd accidental catch, that is), seeing as targeting them requires techniques and baits that are not normally used for any other species here. In other words, you pretty much have to go out of your way to target these fish, but rest assured — once you do, the rewards can be plentiful! A good day of carpin’ feels like the effects after "arm day" at the gym!

There is practically an endless number of techniques available, ranging from very basic to very advanced, for targeting these husky creatures. The vast majority, though, are bottom-oriented presentations, seeing as carp spend most of their lives rooting around the bottom for food. Carp rigs range from as simple as a few kernels of canned corn on a hook with a split shot or sinker to more technical rigs designed specifically for carp. My favourite this year has been a 360 rig baited with a pop-up.

My best advice is to gear up properly if you’re interested in targeting carp, especially when it comes to your rod and reel. Carp can easily be caught on very basic equipment and techniques when targeted, but once hooked they are fierce and determined fighters that can quickly empty a small reel in seconds with a powerful run, or even snap a light rod with a strong headshake and a flick of the tail. Proper carp equipment includes reels with a large spool that hold more line than you could ever imagine you’d need, and heavy rods that can help you turn and control the heaviest of fish. There are many other useful items, but a few of my favourites include: a landing mat, carp net, weigh sling, rod holders, bite alarms, and more.

Although I was introduced to fishing by a family friend when I was five, it was just four years ago that a friend took me out to target carp specifically for the first time, sparking my interest for the species. This was my first look at carp-specific gear, and since then I’ve been adding to my own collection of equipment and spending some time focusing on them each year. There's endless videos and information available online. I’ve found a lot a lot of useful information this way, in addition to meeting other anglers on shore and learning from them too. It’s fun swapping baits, sharing information and success stories. And of course, the cell phones always get pulled out to display photographic proof!

Eric Riley of Ottawa with a nice common carp.

Aside from all reasons above, my favourite aspect of carp fishing is the camaraderie and the new friends I have met who share a mutual passion. Some say that fishing is peaceful and relaxing, but that is completely tossed aside when hooked up with a carp on the line! It’s chaotic and an absolute thrill! I’ve really enjoyed the teamwork that has formed when fishing with a group of anglers on shore, and everyone gets involved when an angler gets hooked up. Someone is on the net, someone gets the landing mat ready, and of course someone is on the camera too. I even recently witnessed a double-header take place, now that was a lot of commotion!

A double header of carp!

As a year-round multi-species angler, I look forward to sharing my adventures and experiences here over the coming months. We are so fortunate to have so many incredible fisheries and many amazing species of fish available. You can also follow my adventures at SheLovesToFish.com. Until next time!

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