How to Hold Carp - Man holding carp

How you hold your catch on the bank is essential not only to get a decent looking picture but also to ensure the carp is not injured and stress levels are kept to a minimum.

Thankfully the process of holding a carp properly is rather easy and all you’ll need to do is follow a few simple steps to lift the fish correctly, take a good picture and the return the carp to the water with as little stress as possible.

Most of the posts on the website focus on how to catch carp and bring them to the bank but how you handle the carp when its out the water is also extremely important.

This post is going to focus solely on how to hold carp with step by step instructions so you really can’t go wrong.

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  • Why is it important to hold carp correctly?

    Holding a fish correctly is not only required to take great pictures but it is also essential to keep the carp as comfortable as possible when outside of the water.

    Any damage caused to the fish reduces the quality of the fish and can even result in the carp dying if you are not briefed on how you should handle the fish.

    As carp anglers it is our concern to make sure the carp is returned to the water quickly and safely to give other anglers the rush of catching these fish.

    Holding the carp correctly also reduces the chance of damaging any fins on the fish which will have a massive effect on the fish. If fins are damaged the fish may have issues swimming to find food, issues with reproducing, feeding issues and many more.

    Also, if the fish is dropped on debris on the ground this can damage scales which can result in infections and even the death of the fish.

    Carp are also covered in a layer of protective slime that acts as part of their immune system. Extreme care needs to be taken not to wash this layer off when handling the fish.

    These fish are also cold bloodied creatures and can react strongly when touched by our warm hands and wrists. Due to this care must be taken when handling the fish and measures can be taken to reduce the discomfort for the fish.

    I’m sure you can now see why its so important to handle carp correct and I’ll now get into how to handle carp properly with a step by step guide.

    How to Hold Carp – Step by Step

    How to hold Carp - carp on unhooking mat

    Before catching a carp and removing it from the water there is a few steps you must take before handling. The first thing to do is ensure you have an unhooking mat in close proximity so you don’t need to travel far with the fish once netted.

    Everything else you need should also be left close by such as your weigh sling, scales and camera to avoid wasting time looking for these items when the fish is out of the water.

    The unhooking mat should also be wet with water from the lake you are fishing with a container sitting nearby with water from the lake.

    Once your fish is netted safely and resting on your wet unhooking mat you should pour the spare container of water on the fish to keep it cool and moist.

    Now you are ready to handle the carp.

    1. Slide Hands Under Carp

    How to Hold Carp - Sliding hands under carp

    The first step to hold a carp properly is to kneel down 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 on 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. Turning Carp Over

    How to Hold Carp - 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.

    Make sure and 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 completely personal preference but staying in the kneeling position should be easiest.

    3. Lifting the Carp

    How to Hold Carp - Lifting Carp

    Once the fish is turned over and secured tightly you can lift it up 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 in 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.

    4. Holding the Carp for a Photo

    How to Hold Carp - Man holding carp

    Keep a good grip of the fins and use your hands to keep the fish balanced and secured.

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

    Dealing with Struggling Carp

    In many cases the carp may still be pretty active when on the banks and begin the wriggle and flip. If this is the case you need to take some steps to ensure the carp does not injure itself.

    If this starts to happen through the lift, tilt the fish back onto your forearms and carefully lower it back down onto the wet unhooking mat.

    If it still continues to struggle you can place a hand over its eye to try to calm it down.

    If this is the case you should also pour some water from the lake over the fish to try to keep it calm and cool.

    That’s All!

    This should be all the information you need to learn how to handle carp correctly.

    The process is simple but will take a bit of practice in the start.

    If you are looking for some more information you can watch the video below.

    YouTube video

    If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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