Are Carp Cold Water Fish - Carp swimming in clear blue water

Carp behaviours differ from other popular fish species that anglers enjoy catching.

Their bottom and scavenging feeding behaviour are massively different to the predator feeding styles of trout and salmon.

Carp are omnivorous and will scavenge for any edible food source on the bottom of the water and also up in the water column.

Carp’s behaviour changes with weather conditions and the temperature of the water they are swimming.

As carp are cold-blooded creatures, their body temperatures fluctuate with the water temperature around them and extremely cold spells can see the carp enter a “torpid” state where they expel very little energy for long periods.

New anglers may wonder if carp are cold or warm water fish.

So, are carp cold water fish?

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  • Are Carp Cold Water Fish?

    No carp are not cold-water fish; although they can survive in cold water temperatures, they are mainly classed as warm-water fish as this is where they will be most active.

    That being said, though, if water temperatures are extremely warm, then the carp will also slow down as warm water holds less oxygen.

    Let’s take a look at why this is the case.

    In the UK there are distinctly warm and cold seasons, with water temperatures reaching as high as mid-20 degrees celsius and dropping to as low as 0 in the winter.

    These temperatures have a drastic impact on the behaviour of the carp, but first let’s take a look at how carp behave in cold water and why they are typically classed as warm-water fish.

    Another reason that carp are classed as warm-water fish is the fact that they can only reproduce in water temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius. 

    How Carp Behave In Cold Water

    Are carp cold water fish - angler with bivvy and carp rods in snow

    Due to carp, like all cold-blooded fish, their body temperature is the same as their environment, so when water temperatures get cold in the winter months, a carp’s metabolism will slow considerably, but they still need to feed at some level.

    Depending on the water you fish, fishing carp in the winter months can become predictable if you pay your due diligence. Carp may only feed once or twice a day, and these feeding windows can be incredibly short, less than an hour in most cases, and even as little as 15 to 20 minutes.

    Your job as an angler fishing in the winter months will be to dial in the locations of the carp in winter and exactly when this feeding window occurs on a daily basis. Once you dial in these two key factors, you can limit your fishing to these feeding windows to make your winter fishing incredibly efficient.

    These windows can remain consistent for long periods of time, even throughout the winter if there are no drastic changes in conditions or water temperatures.

    If the water were to get very cold and drop below 39 degrees for an extended period, the carp will most likely enter a period of torpor, or a state of mental and physical inactivity.

     In this state, a carp will not actively feed and remain almost completely motionless during this period of very cold temperatures, this allows them to conserve their energy and is similar for example, to bears hibernating, though for a much shorter period.

    With water temperatures being so critical to winter fishing success, it’s important to keep tabs on the temperatures when a cold snap comes, and if it gets to the point where fish enter this dormant state, it’s best to stay warm and wait for the temperatures to rise again.

     How Carp Behave In Warm Water

    Are carp cold water fish - man sitting beside river with carp rods

    In warmer water during spring, summer and autumn, the carp should be in full feeding mode and spend a lot of their time moving around the body of water looking for feed.

    As water temperatures rise slowly into spring, the carp will start to move out of their long winter slumber and feed heavily to replenish lost weight throughout hard winters.

    As the water starts to warm, the carp will often move to the shallow areas of the lake, where the water warms from the sun and mixes from warmer winds.

    Generally speaking, the carp will move to areas where they feel most comfortable and these is often areas of the water that are warmest and have some sort of cover such as weeds, overhanging trees, lilly pads or even the banks.

    Although carp are warm water fish and are far more active with warmer water temperatures, water temperatures in the height of summer can reach so high that the dissolved oxygen content in the water is far lower, and the carp become slightly less active again.

    They will still feed at some point through the day, but most of the feeding comes in low fronts as the weather cools off a little and clouds and rain move through.

    Autumn is another great time for carp fishing as water temperatures begin to cool from the height of summer, and the carp will be on the feed stocking up fat and weight as cold winter approaches, where their feeding will drastically drop.

    That’s All

    Carp are not classed as cold-water fish, and most of their feeding activity occurs when water temperatures are warm. 

    This is due to the fact they are cold-blooded, and their body temperatures fluctuate with the temperature of the water around them.

    Another reason carp are closed as warm water fish because they cannot reproduce in water temperatures below 15 degrees Celcius.

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