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COMMON CARP

At-a-Glance

  • Scientific Name: Cyprinus carpio
  • Found in Illinois: Statewide
  • State Average: 16.8"
  • State Record: Hook & Line: 51 lbs (1994); Bowfishing: 38lbs/2 oz. (2013)
  • Best Lures: bottom baits with doughballs, crayfish, corn, or bread
  • Best Lakes (based on average size): Randolph County, Jones State

Angling Tips:

Carp are spirited fish that are relatively easy to catch and can provide anglers with lots of top-notch action. The carp is a bottom feeder and there's a sweet tooth inside the suction-like mouth. Try moistening some sugary cereal for bait, and be sure to hold onto your rod — carp are known for their power and quickness once they've been hooked. Carp will also explore and feed in newly flooded areas, and these can be a great place to fish using worms or dough balls.

Habitat: The common carp were initially introduced in Europe in the 1880s and were initially found in Illinois in 1886. They are now naturalized into nearly all Illinois waters. Carp prefer warm lakes, streams, ponds and sloughs with a lot of organic matter. They tend to thrive in poorer water quality.

Feeding and Habits: Carp like to root around on the bottom, uprooting tender roots and shoots of young aquatic vegetation, which makes the water murky. Aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small mollusks make up the bulk of their forage.

Reproduction: Spawning occurs from mid-April through June. Large females will lay their eggs in vegetation with water depths between one and four feet. Splashing carp, often with their backs out of the water, can be observed during the springtime spawn.