The best fun in angling comes from the challenge. However, there are times when anglers see the fish completely losing interest in the bait and wonder if something is wrong with their choice of bait or their method of catching the carp.
Most experienced anglers will be able to tell you that it’s not you; it’s the carp. How is that even possible? The days carp are spawning the carp will pay you no attention to your bait at all. You will naturally want to get to the heart of the matter and ask, do carp feed when spawning? Can you still bait them?
In this blog, we will discuss what carp spawning is, whether carp feed when spawning or not, and any other behavioural changes in the carp.
So, are you ready? Let’s dive in!
What Is Carp Spawning?
Carp spawning is the reproduction process of the carp species. It typically involves the female carp laying eggs on aquatic vegetation or rock formations, which multiple males can fertilise with their milt. A female can lay up to 300,000 eggs in one spawning period, but very few survive if any at all. The carp have very specific behaviours when they spawn, which you can easily recognise if you pay attention.
The carp have a specific time frame in which they spawn, so don’t worry. It’s not a year-round thing. Most carp usually spawn between late spring and early summer. That is why most of the UK enforces a close season on lakes and rivers so that the carp can spawn in peace. They usually need temperatures between 13-24°C to start spawning. The warmer it gets, the more vigorous their reproductive activities become.
Carp usually begin spawning as the weather gets warmer, but they can spawn 3-4 times a year, depending on the climate. It is unethical to catch carp when they are spawning as it affects their spawning and can decrease their population.
You’ll see that commercial fisheries do not leave carp to their own devices to spawn. They usually employ artificial methods such as hatchery-based seed production to ensure a healthy-sized carp population that they can stock their fishery with.
Out in nature, however, it is a much more challenging game. The female can lay millions of eggs which it may lose to a wide range of adverse environmental factors. These factors may include disturbed water salinity, unsuitable pH levels or predators eating the eggs.
In addition, the eggs can get dislodged for a variety of reasons that may lead to an unsuccessful spawning. Sometimes the carp may even eat their eggs themselves if they get a little too hungry after spawning. These factors are usually why carp populations do not increase dramatically after each spawning season.
Do Carp Feed When Spawning?
So, now we’ll get to the question that’s on everyone’s minds. Do carp feed when spawning? The short answer is no. The carp have almost no appetite at this time and will not respond to even the tastiest of bait. However, right before spawning season and right after spawning season are when the carp are the hungriest.
Usually, anglers have a lot of success out on the water when they fish for carp right after spawning because the tired, hungry carp feed voraciously and, as a result, respond to a lot of the bait.
However, while most ponds and streams are closed to fishing due to the close season, some anglers have tried catching carp in these conditions and met with failure. The carp simply do not care about the bait at all in these times! Since it is also unethical to fish for spawning fish, it’s best to hang up the fishing rod for the early part of the summer.
It’s important to note that the carp’s lack of appetite during spawning is not the same as its lack of appetite in the winters. There’s still a chance that you may hook some big ones in the winters because they may get hungry. The right kind of aromatic, colourful carp bait may draw them out of their sleepy states.
When the carp are spawning, however, they are naturally just not hungry. It usually leads to them becoming very weak, which can cause some carp deaths right after spawning season.
How Do You Know The Carp Are Spawning?
Now, that’s a good question. What if you fish while the carp are spawning entirely by mistake? You certainly won’t be the first newbie angler to do so. Luckily for you, we know exactly what signals you need to look out for to determine if the carp are spawning or not.
So, do you want to know how to know if the carp are spawning? Let’s find out!
The most obvious indicator of something being different is when the carp do not respond to any kind of bait. Generally, after a few slow hours, you can see movement in the lake or river if you change your place, bait, or technique. If no such thing happens, it generally means that the carp are too busy to notice your little food offering.
Another obvious indicator for carp spawning is their increased thrashing and bumping. You’ll see many carp bump and crash into each other in the spawning season. Since carp usually spawn in shallow water, you’ll be able to see most of their movements. If their movements are erratic and forceful near the surface, know that it’s that time of the year again.
If you can look closely, you’ll also detect some physical changes in the carp when spawning season rolls around. The female fish are typically bigger than the male fish, but in the spawning season, they grow swollen and become even bigger than before.
The male carp will also see some physical changes in this season. You might notice some white tubercles on the male carp’s heads or gill plates. The presence of these gill plates also means that spawning is underway in that particular lake or river.
Most experienced anglers will tell you that carp get spooked really easily. They are naturally suspicious fish and will make a hasty escape if they see anything even slightly suspicious. However, in the spawning season, the anglers could be causing quite a disturbance in the water, and the carp wouldn’t even notice.
All in all, most of these indicators show that the carp single-mindedly focus on reproduction during this season and nothing else. It’s best to leave them to their devices until the close season ends and the hungry carp make a comeback.
In this complete guide to carp spawning, we discussed what carp spawning is, how long it lasts and whether or not the carp feed while spawning. In addition, we also discussed the various carp behaviours that can give you a clue as to whether or not the carp are spawning.
Reproduction is an essential life process for all living beings, whether plants, animals or human beings. The various carp species provide a lot of entertainment to us during the rest of the year, but the close season is when we should leave them alone to complete their spawning in peace. It’ll help you avoid trouble with the law, as well.
We recommend you use this time to learn all about different carp species, how they behave and the best ways to catch them!