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Plenty more to carp about

Aaron Kylie with one of several dozen gorgeous Ontario carp catch this day after pre-baiting the area with corn. • Credit: Gord Pyzer
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Plenty more to carp about

Learn to catch Ontario carp using simple baits.

In my last blog, I mentioned that in addition to the unbelievable world-class walleye, bass, trout, salmon, muskie, pike and panfish opportunities that are available throughout Northern Ontario, we also enjoy some of the most fabulous fishing for carp.

The envy of the world, as a matter of fact.

Better yet, Ontario carp grow big, bold and sassy. We're talking about wild fish in the 30-, 40-, and 50-pound range. And so few anglers are aware of the prospects, that unlike the rest of the world where folks pay huge fees to belong to exclusive clubs entitling them to the fish in the very best carp waters, we can drive short distances and catch dozens of fish that would represent the "trophy of a lifetime" almost anywhere else.

Indeed, Ontario carp fanatic, Len Perdic says Ontario waters are crawling with gargantuan carp. And get this, while the Ontario record is a relatively "puny" 38-pound fish, Perdic and his friends catch and release scores of carp every year in the 40- to 50-pound range.

So, why don't they register their catches? Because they'd have to kill the fish to do it and they value them so much, they say it is not worth the notoriety.

And less you think Perdic is exaggerating, consider that Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources staff tagged a wild carp in one test net that weighed 68.7 pounds. And it was but one big fish that day in a huge sampling of 50-pound plus Goliaths.
So, how do you go about targeting and catching them?

"A neat thing about fishing for carp in Ontario," says Tony Benham, who literally wrote the book on the subject, Carp Fishing In Canada - A Sport Enthusiast's Perspective, "is you can catch them on simple baits that you have in the fridge and you can use the spinning or bait-casting gear you already own."

Indeed, according to Benham and Perdic, who both have graduated to the most sophisticated carp gear imaginable -- including hair-trigger bite alarms -- a long, medium-action steelhead, walleye or bass rod will suffice for the beginning carp angler. Just be sure to use a high-capacity 3000 or 4000 series spinning reel spooled with a premium 8-pound test line because you're going to be towed down the shore by some giant fish.

At the end of your line, our carp experts suggest using a simple hair rig, essentially a small needle-sharp hook with a tiny piece of line trailing behind it. The reason for the trailing line, or hair, is that you don't actually put your bait (more about the best baits in a moment) on the hook. Instead, you use a needle and thread it onto the strand of line, holding it in place by a simple plastic "hair stop" or bobber stop.

hair rig Ontario carp expert Len Perdic shows how he prepares corn on a hair rig. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

By the way, the reason hair rigs are so productive is that carp don't have teeth in the fashion of most other fish. Instead, they have pharyngeal teeth at the backs of their throats. And just like sturgeon, whitefish, bonefish, permit and redfish, carp vacuum food off the bottom, trapping anything good enough to eat in their gill filaments and then grinding it up with the molars at the back of their throats; hence the beauty of a hair rig.

Now, as for the best bait to use, Perdic and Benham both say many days it's Jolly Green Giant corn niblets. Carp apparently relish the stuff.

Boilies, little balls of dough containing secret blends of flours, grains, amino acids and flavourings mixed together and baked in an oven are another alternative. (And here, all this time, you thought Colonel Sanders had a corner on the market.) By the way, you can buy commercial boilies in packages in many tackle shops.

boilie A big boilie on a hair rig is the perfect way to catch giant Ontario carp. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Oh, yes, one last thing, Perdic and Benham suggest you always pre-bait or "chum" the area you're going to fish a day in advance. The reason is that carp, the Einsteins of the gill and fin world, possess phenomenal senses of taste and smell which they use to lead them to healthy foods high in protein. So by chumming, you draw the fish to your area and they'll eat as much corn as you can put on their plates, as much as four- to five-pounds at a single sitting.

ladle with cornSteve Sherman fills his ladle with corn before tossing the bait into the water to attract carp to the area. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Perdic typically pre-baits his carp hot spots by filling half a pail with a mixture of cattle corn and chicken scratch that he buys at a milling company or livestock feed store. Then he covers it with an inch or two of boiling water to soften it up.

Once at his fishin' hole, Perdic uses a giant plastic deep-cupped spoon on a long handle called a spod rocket to toss the chum out from shore, into slightly deeper water, where the fish feel more secure. Spod rockets also let you lightly chum the fringes of your fishing area so the carp will eat their way into your main food source.

Ontario carpOntario carp expert Len Perdic loads up the carpers equivalent of a sling-shot with corn that he will fling out into the water to attract the fish. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

And to keep the fish hanging around the neighbourhood, while he is fishing, Perdic uses a slingshot with a big pouch, called a catapult by carp enthusiasts.

Now, trust me on this one. I've only been able to scratch the surface of carp fishing in Northern Ontario in these two most recent postings. But it is more than enough for you to get started. If you'd like to learn more, get a copy of Tony Benham's book, join a carp club and most all, learn by the seat of your pants.

You'll be shocked at the unbelievable fishing you've been missing out on all these years.

ontario carpLen Perdic with a beautiful Ontario carp that ate a corn baited hair rig, after it was attracted to the area by chum. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Finally, here is the bonus I promised in my last blog.

I recently attended the European Fishing Tackle and Trade Exhibition (EFTTEX) in Vienna, Austria, where I was privileged to meet up with Jim Burton, one of the most famous "match anglers" and carp specialists in Britain. Jim's company, Match Box Tackle, http://www.matchboxtackle.eu/ specializes in carp fishing gear (check it out, you won't believe the stuff) and Jim is also the European Sales Consultant for Old Ghost Bait Experts, the largest maker of carp baits in the world.

Jim took me under his wing at the show and explained in this short video some of the fascinating carp tricks he has learned over the years and that he puts into practice whenever he goes fishing.

Be sure to follow Gord on Twitter @gordpyzer

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