Can you pick up carp by the mouth - Close up of carp mouth with hooked maggots

Carp fishing is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, with millions of anglers taking to the banks at least a few times a year.

In this day and age, carp angling is as popular as ever, and new anglers are flocking to the sport every year to catch some of the native fish species that inhabit the waters near them.

The proximity to nature, learning a new challenging skill and the exhilaration of finally hooking into a large carp provides a great experience for new and experienced anglers.

Thankfully, you can find plenty of information to learn all about carp fishing and how you can start to put the first few fish in the net.

One of the most basic and arguably the most important is carp care.

As anglers, it’s your duty to look after the fish we all enjoy catching so they can live to grow to larger sizes once safely released back into the water.

As carp can grow to such large sizes, handling them ensures you can hold their full weight and avoid injuring them.

Even if you’re new to angling, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of anglers holding some types of fish by the mouth for pictures especially the large and small-mouth bass in the US.

So it’s no surprise I’ve heard new carp anglers asking “can you pick up carp by the mouth”.

In this post, I’m going to answer this question for you.

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  • Can You Pick Up Carp By The Mouth?

    The straight answer here is no, you shouldn’t pick up carp by the mouth.

    The main reason for this is the sheer weight the carp can grow to and how delicate their mouths can be in comparison.

    In many cases, you probably won’t be able to hold the weight of the fish just by a few fingers in the carp’s mouth, but even if you can, this should be avoided.

    If you attempt to pick up a carp by the mouth, there’s a high chance you may break the fish’s jaw, which will mean almost certain death for the fish as they can’t feed.

    As carp anglers, the safety of the fish we are catching should be a high priority, so even though you may see bass anglers holding fish like this safely with carp, you should not be doing this.

    As the bass is generally a lot lighter than carp and has a larger and tougher jaw, the best way to handle them safely is in this manner as long as you don’t try to hold the bass in a horizontal position.

    Bass anglers also do this to limit contact with the body of the bass and its protective coating of slime that protects them from infection and bacteria in the water.

    Carp also have this protective slime coating, but as it is not suitable to hold carp by the mouth, other precautions are taken to avoid removing this coating.

    These include handling the fish with wet hands at all times, limiting contact with the fish, placing the fish on a wet landing mat and also by keeping the fish wet with a small bucket of water to hand.

    How To Hold Carp?

    Can you pick up carp by the mouth - Man holding carp

    Now that you know that you should not hold carp by the mouth, I’ll go over the simple steps that you can take to ensure you’re handling the fish correctly and returning them to the water safely after you take a picture.

    Once you have netted the carp in a carp-safe net that has been dipped in the water before netting the fish.

    You should then move the carp to your wet unhooking mat or cradle on the banks before unhooking the fish.

    These mats or cradles will stop the fish from injuring itself on the banks if it puts up a struggle, and these also substantially reduce the risk of the carp damaging its;s scales on any debris on the ground.

    After the carp has settled on the mat, you want to take a picture as quickly as possible before releasing the fish back into the water.

    Follow these steps to handle the fish correctly.

    1. Slide Hands Under Carp

    Can you pick up carp by the mouth - Sliding hands under carp

    The first step to hold a carp properly is to kneel as close and as low to the fish as possible.

    You should then slide your hands under the body of the fish. The hand closest to the head of the fish should slide in from the head towards the gills. Be very careful with the eye on the underside of the fish.

    You should then grasp either side of the front pectoral fin, as you can see in the picture above.

    The hand closest to the tail should slide under towards the anal fin, where you should grasp either side. Be very careful not to catch lift any scales when doing this.

    2. Turn Carp Over

    Can you pick up carp by the mouth  Turning carp over

    Once your hands are slid under and in these positions on either side of the fish, you can start to turn the fish over into a lifting position.

    By slowly tilting your hands and using your forearms, you should be able to tilt the fish around, so it is upright.

    Keep the fish as close to the mat as possible through this stage in case the fish starts to struggle.

    Once the fish is in this position, you can either stay kneeling or get into a squat position. This is a personal preference, but staying in the kneeling should be easiest.

    3. Lifting the Carp

    Can you pick up carp by the mouth - Lifting Carp

    Once the fish is turned over and secured tightly, you can lift it from the mat. Once again, though, you don’t want to remove the fish too far from the mat so avoid standing up with your fish.

    Hold the fish close to your body for more support.

    You can even keep your elbows on your knees if the fish is really heavy so you can hold it for a little longer.

    That’s All

    Learning how to handle carp properly should be a fairly easy task for new carp anglers as long as you follow the simple steps above.

    Keep in mind, under no circumstances, no matter how small the fish is, should you lift the carp by the mouth the same way bass anglers in the US handle these fish.

    If you handle carp in the steps described above, there should be very little chance of you injuring the fish, and it should return to the water healthy.

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