There are many fishermen here in American that spend thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles to distant locations to pursue elusive fish, such as the bonefish for example, who are known for their wary behavior, their selective pallet, as well as their strength and agility when hooked. Fishermen have to exercise great skill with their presentation and a stealthy approach in order to consistently catch these spooky fish.
If traveling to expensive, exotic locations to pursue such highly elusive fish is not something you can afford to do at the moment, have no fear! There’s a fish near you that I dare say is equally as challenging to catch, (especially on fly fishing gear) and even more fun to pursue than all those fancy saltwater fish. It’s a fish that was once reserved for the Kings and Queens of Europe and revered by the Samurai warriors of Japan! What is this great fish, you ask!? The answer may shock you! Ready? It’s the common carp!
The carp family of fish (Cyprinidae) has many members and relatives, including the common carp, mirror carp, leather carp, linear carp, and ghost carp. They are not, however, directly related to the four species of Asian carp: the silver, bighead, grass, and black carp, of which I’ve done many videos about and have also written a book about. Of the various species of carp, the common carp is the most prevalent as they are well established in 48 of America’s 50 states.
Although the common carp is native to Asia, they were introduced to the United States around the year 1831. In the decades that followed, this imported, exotic species were stocked in several North American states, including my home state of Missouri. During that time, and still to this day, carp were and still are a greatly revered and respected sport fish in Europe. Prestigious carp fishing clubs and tournaments are the norm in many European countries.
And as I mentioned in the introduction to this article, carp were fish reserved for the Kings and Queens of Europe and were revered as a symbol of courage and strength in Asian countries, as Japanese samurai warriors would carry banners depicting carp to symbolize their status.
In the decades that followed their initial introduction to the US, the common carp soon lost popularity. But, there was no turning back. They were already well established, and the carp is now one of the most widespread and abundant species of fish in America. Their fearsome ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome ecological challenges…many of them manmade challenges such as pollution…as well as their abundant breeding capabilities, have resulted in the common carp infiltrating bodies of water all over the country and overtaking the more popular, native species of fishes. As a result, the carp have become an unwelcome guest in ponds, river systems, and lakes all over America. Consequently, they have become a target for eradication by many fishermen and have undeservedly been labeled as a bottom-feeding, scum-sucking, trash fish! Keep in mind though, it’s not the carp’s fault that they’re a strong fish and have been able to survive and thrive in aquatic ecosystems that we humans have poisoned and destroyed, resulting in so many native species of fish dying off in those areas.
As a result of the common carp’s undeserved persecution and negative stereotypes, they have been greatly overlooked by fishermen in America as a fish worthy of serious attention and respect. In reality though, the common carp has all the same characteristics as those fancy fish that people spend thousands of dollars to pursue and catch, even more so, in my humble opinion. Like the prolific salmon of Alaska, the common carp is plentiful. Like a mighty largemouth bass, the carp fights incredibly hard, making long, powerful, bulldozer-like runs. Like the big stripers and catfish that so many love to chase, common carp get big…well over 50 pounds! Like a prized rainbow trout, carp are very intelligent fish and can be quite picky about what they eat, making them a great challenge for fly fishermen. Just like those wary bonefish, carp spook very easily and can be very difficult to sneak up on in places where they’re not used to human activity. And, just like the beloved crappie, carp can be incredibly tasty when caught from clean water and prepared properly. Not to mention, they’re also a very nutritious fish when caught from clean water.
Yes, indeed, the ol’ “suburban salmon” is a fine fish to go after! Mr. Buglemouth is a fish that is most worthy of respect and honor. They can be pursued using many different methods and styles of fishing and they most likely can be found close to where you live. They’re great fun for people of all ages to fish for and again, can be tasty table fare when prepared properly and caught from clean water. So get all those negative stereotypes out of your head, get out there and go after these big, beautiful, powerful fish! Check out the video below to see more…