Carp Spawning - carp spawning in lily pads

A lot of public fishing spots in the UK, especially rivers close over the summer for coarse fishing, to the eternal disappointment of  anglers in the area. But why does the government close these waters? For carp and other coarse fish spawning, of course!

Carp spawning is the natural process by which the carp reproduce. They do this in a period of aggressive activity at some point during spring to summer that we call the spawning period.

Commercial fisheries breed their carp in artificial ways, such as by hatchery-based seed production or by raising them in nursing tanks or ponds. However, out in the open, carp spawning is a complicated process with many eggs and newly-hatched fry lost to predators and environmental factors.

If you’re interested in knowing how your favourite coarse fish spawns in lakes and ponds during those long months in which you aren’t allowed to fish them, read this article to find out.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go.

What Is Carp Spawning?

Carp spawning is the process by which carp produce fertile offspring. They usually spawn over the summer, a time in which the UK government elects to close down a lot of public waters over the country, especially rivers, so that the carp may spawn undisturbed.

Carp spawn by external fertilization, meaning the sperm fertilize the egg outside the female’s body. However, very rarely, internal fertilization may also occur.

One female lays several million eggs. Now, that may sound like an unbelievable amount to you. However, a single female does not produce several million fries because most of these eggs do not survive. Predators, varying water temperatures, unsuitable salinity and unideal pH, are all factors that usually eliminate most of a female carp’s eggs.

Keep in mind that only sexually mature carp spawn over the summer. Carp reach sexual maturation when they’re almost two years old.

Carp spawning involves a male and a female, with several males fertilizing one female’s eggs at one time.

Carp is considered one of the most convenient fish to stock in most waters because it has a very efficient reproductive system with which it spawns. This system allows the carp to produce a significant number of new fish every season. However, that can sometimes be a nuisance as some fishery owners may then need to empty their waters if the carp population gets too high.

When Do Carp Spawn In The UK?

In the UK, carp generally spawn from April to August or from the later stages of spring to the late stages of summer. However, several other factors determine when carp spawn, including weather and climate, among other things. This timeline is the reason behind the UK government’s strict guidelines regarding the close season.

Carp spawning is determined by when a female reaches sexual maturity. Oxygen availability, how much food they’re receiving, and water temperature usually determine when a female reaches that.

In warmer regions of the world, the carp may spawn more than once. This situation sometimes arises in the tropical areas. However, if the food is scarce, the carp may spawn a few eggs several times throughout the year.

It is also worthy to note that the carp start spawning when water temperatures start rising.

It is common knowledge among anglers that it is unethical to try and catch carp during spawning season. The reason behind this is that carp are vulnerable at this time. They should also be allowed to reproduce in peace as preventing that may result in a drastic decrease in their population.

Carp Spawning Behaviour

Carp Spawning - Carp Splashing in shallows

Carp usually spawn when a bigger female thrashes around in the water releasing eggs, with smaller males following it in the hopes of fertilizing its eggs.

You can avoid getting into trouble with the authorities by learning to identify the signs of carp spawning. So, let’s dive in!

Thrashing Around

You can see carp thrashing around and bumping into each other when they are spawning. Generally, this happens because the males bump into the females to induce them to lay eggs. They do this so they can then fertilize those eggs with their milt. Milt is the male fish’s sperm.

Physical Changes

During the spawning period, both the males and females undergo physical changes that make it easier to determine their status.

Generally, the female bodies become distended and large because they are carrying so many eggs. This change can lead them to have slower movements.

The males develop white tubercles over their heads and gill plates. These tubercles look like tiny white bumps on the surface of their bodies.

Aggression

While carp do provide quite a challenge when anglers try to catch them, they are not very aggressive by nature. However, once spawning season rolls around, these fish become pretty aggressive and forceful in their behaviors, leading to some fish getting hurt in the process as well.

Males mainly exhibit this behaviour.

Don’t Get Scared Away.

The carp will not notice you at all when they are spawning, let alone be spooked by you. The males and females will continue thrashing in the water in plain sight.

Generally, most coarse anglers will advise you to be as quiet as possible when approaching the water because the carp are easily spooked.

Techniques such as carp stalking require being as quiet as possible while stalking carp. You’re also advised to wear clothes that blend into the background, use a fluorocarbon line that isn’t very visible underwater and make no sudden movements.

No Response To Bait

As a general rule, carp do not feed much when they are spawning. So, even if you do fish some bait, it is unlikely that any carp will bite.

However, after the draining spawning process, it is best to wait until after they have spawned to fish as they will be extremely hungry and after some bait.

Well, that’s all on how you can know if the carp in the water you’re planning to fish are spawning or not.

Fishing For Carp When Spawning

Most law-abiding anglers do not fish for carp when they are spawning. The reason behind this is that it’s unethical to disrupt their reproductive process and catch them for sport at a time in which they are vulnerable.

Another reason for this rule is that carp do not feed much or at all when they are spawning. So how can an angler have any hope of catching some carp if they don’t even bite the bait?

But, fear not! Carp are very hungry and ready to bite before and after spawning. These are generally the times in which they feed on anything and everything including boilies, pellets and even bread. Most anglers enjoy catching carp in these times as it proves more fun than trying to catch spawning carp.

Fishing For Carp Before And After Spawning

Carp Spawning - Carp Feeding on Bottom

So, when can anglers catch carp? Before and after the carp spawn, of course!

Pre-Spawn

The pre-spawn periods of carp are generally in early spring. This time is when winter has just ended, and the carp are emerging from their winter haze and feeding aggressively after not having fed heavily all season.

During this period, they will feed at the bottom and in the middle and even closer to the surface. This time of high activity extends until late spring, after which the actual spawning process begins may begin if parameters align.

In that time, the carp will pay you no attention at all.

Post-Spawn

The carp will be lethargic and inactive in the first few days after the spawning process ends. This state is because they are low on nutrition, some of them are injured, and some are just tired. However, after this resting period ends, the carp start feeding with a frenzy again.

If you are fishing in a commercial fishery or a well-known angler haunt, it is worth it to ask someone if the carp have spawned or not. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with your line in the water but no bites!

The female carp are generally very thin at this time, as they have released all of their eggs during the spawning period. In this time, they feed on the surface almost as much as they feed on the bottom.

Fly-fishers or just traditional anglers have a lot of fun in this time as it means guaranteed bites almost every single time. This period of aggressive feeding continues for nearly two weeks. After that, the carp have satisfied themselves and become normal again.

It is essential not to throw trash in the water during this time as the fish will swallow almost anything because of how hungry they are.

That’s All

Carp spawning is a fascinating phenomenon to witness. People who have grown up near fisheries or lakes where there are many carp witness a lot of these periods of high activity that precede a new generation of carp in that water.

One should always remember to keep their fishing rods away from the water during these times, try not to litter near the water and just enjoy the sight of the carp battling it out in the water.

After all, once the very hungry carp emerge from the spawn, they’re all yours to catch!

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