What is a ghost carp - Ghost carp swimming below surface with leaves

Carp fishing is becoming increasingly popular, with millions of anglers taking to the banks regularly to try and get some carp in the net.

Their powerful bodies, large sizes, fast growth rates, and elusive nature makes for great sport, and there’s no doubt the sport will continue to increase in popularity.

Commercial carp fisheries and day ticket waters are common up and down the UK and across Europe, where anglers can pay to fish well-stocked lakes for the days.

Typically, these lakes are ponds stocked with common carp, mirror carp, crucian carp, f1 carp and other coarse fish species.

There is one type of carp that is rather rare in the UK and commercial fisheries, so not a lot of anglers have ever heard of them and may get a shock if you end up with one in the net.

These are a type of carp called the “Ghost Carp”.

I’m sure you’ve found yourself here as you’re looking for more information on the ghost carp and how you can catch one if they are known to be swimming in the venue you are fishing.

So, what is a ghost carp?

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  • What is a Ghost Carp?

    Ghost carp are extremely distinct and will stand out among all the other carp species swimming in the water due to their white, grey or yellowish colour.

    Ghost carp are hybrid carp, and the result of the breeding process taking place between a mirror or common carp and a Platinum Ogon or Yellow Ogon.

    The Platinum Ogon and Yellow Ogon are variants of koi carp that were originally bred in Japan in the 1820s as ornamental fish for ponds.

    There are thought to be up to 22 variants of Koi, all with different colourings and patterns.

    Koi are just common carp that have been selectively bred over centuries to encourage new colours and patterns to form.

    The Platinum Ogon and Yellow Ogon used to breed with common carp to create ghost carp are either a solid metallic white colour or a solid gold/yellow metallic colour.

    So if you come across one of these ghost carp, it will look extremely similar to the shape and stature of a common carp but will have a distinctly white, grey or yellow colour, making them extremely easy to identify.

    The fact that these ghost carp are bred from koi makes them far more expensive than other types of carp, such as the mirror and common carp, which are the most common in UK fisheries today.

    This is why you will find it very difficult to find many of these fish swimming in UK fisheries.

    Unlike F1 carp, ghost carp can reproduce with each other. Still, a high percentage of these offspring can every back to “parental” types looking more like a common carp or a platinum or yellow ogon than a ghost carp.

    Just like the F1 carp, which are hybrids of the crucian and common carp, they are vigorous feeders and can compete with all other carp swimming in the water without any hassle.

    This allows them to grow at fast rates.

    Typically, Ghost carp have the following:

    • Average weight of 6-15lb
    • Average length of around 18-26 inches

    These fish can only be seen in fisheries and pounds across the UK, and it is highly unlikely you will come across any swimming in the wild as “wild” common, or mirror carp would need to breed with koi carp, which are extremely rare in public UK waterways.

    Let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions about Ghost Carp.

    Are Ghost Carp Invisible In the Water?

    Ghost carp are not invisible and can be seen in clear water or swimming near the surface. Their light-coloured and single-coloured bodies may make them stand out more in a pond than mirrors and common carp.

    Mirror and common carp are typically dark brown, greenish or bronze in colour, so can somewhat camouflage with coloured water, the greens and browns of the lake bed or even next to weeds in the water.

    Ghost carp, on the other hand, is vibrant white or yellowish, which makes them stand out around the greens and browns of the water and aquaculture.

    Are Ghost Carp Cannibals?

    Like other carp species, ghost carp may occasionally eat small dead fish, but they do not actively feed on fish and the chances of them eating live fish are very slim.

    Like other carp, they may also eat carp eggs in the water, which will be plentiful after a successful spawning season.

    So yes, you could class them as cannibals, but this could be said about all other carp species as they will behave and eat the same diet as other carp species.

    How Long Do Ghost Carp Live?

    A ghost carp’s average life span is around 20 years as long as water conditions are right and there is plenty of natural food in the water.

    How To Catch Ghost Carp?

    What is a ghost carp - Ghost carp swimming with common carp

    If you’re lucky to find ghost carp swimming in your local commercial carp venue or somewhere in the “wild”, then I’m sure you’re going to want to know how you can target them to get one in the net.

    Ghost carp consume the same natural foods as common and other types of carp, so any successful carp fishing approach will work the same as it does for others this type of carp.

    Common approaches for ghost carp include feeder fishing to target the fish on the bottom, float fishing to target the fish in various depths, and surface fishing with floating baits if the conditions allow.

    Method Feeder 

    What is a ghost carp - Method feeder packed with groundbait

    If you’re looking to target stocked ghost carp on the bottom, then a great place to start is the method feeder. The method feeder allows you to bait up swims with small bundles of free carp bait, such as groundbait or micropellets mix with your hook bait presented within.

    To ensure you’re fishing the method feeder successfully, you must make sure you have mixed the mixture you’re using correctly, whether it be micropellets or groundbait.

    If you’re looking for a tutorial on this, then you can take a read at these few posts:

    Once you have the perfect method feeder mix sorted, you can mould it around the feeder with the provided mould.

    One essential part of method feeder fishing for ghost carp and method feeder fishing for any carp fishing is to make sure you’re fishing a productive swim.

    Before fishing, it pays to walk around the water and look for signs of carp.

    These could be carp jumping or rolling on the surface, areas of silty water where the carp may be feeding on the bottom and kicking up silt or even feeding bubbles making their way to the surface as the carp slurps in baits on the bottom.

    Float Fishing

    What is a ghost carp - carp fishing float in lily pads

    Float fishing is another common method for fishing for ghost carp and other carp species.

    Waggler floats sit upright in the water and give delicate bite indication if a carp or other fish species picks up your bait.

    Although carp are classed as bottom feeders, they don’t always feed on the bottom and can be found picking up natural food sources and cruising up in the water.

    Waggler float fishing with pellets, sweetcorn or any carp bait of your choice can pay when the fish are not feeding on the bottom.

    Surface Fishing

    what is a ghost carp - Carp eating bread from surface in murky lake

    During the summer and sometimes even during sunny and slightly warmer periods in winter, it might be common to find shoals of carp swimming around on the surface.

    When this is the case, you can target them with surface fishing techniques.

    This can be a great way to target ghost carp, as you should be easily able to spot them swimming along with other carp. This can be an extremely selective type of fishing, and if it’s only the ghost carp you want to try and catch, then you have the option.

    Surface fishing involves “stalking” where you will travel around water, usually a light rod, with a single hook tied with a pouch of floating baits such as dog biscuits or bread.

    With this type of fishing, you will want to be as stealthy as possible and try lightly around the water, looking for any carp swimming on the surface close to the banks.

    Once and if you find any, start throwing a few freebies of your bread or dog biscuits and see how the ghost carp or other carp react to the bait.

    If they take the free-floating bait, you can feed another few pieces to get them comfortable before firing a piece on your small single hook and casting to the feeding fish.

    With any luck, they’ll take the bait.

    If the conditions are right and the fish are on the surface, then surface fishing can be a great way to selectively catch any ghost carp in the water.

    What Do Ghost Carp Eat?

    As ghost carp are extremely similar to the common, mirror and koi carp, their diet is the same.

    In the wild, ghost carp will feed on worms, insect larvae, insects, molluscs, crustaceans, berries, sometimes even dead fish, some organic matter and anything they come across in the water that they deem edible. 

    As well as the natural food sources, ghost carp will react to carp baits the same way as other carp.

    So, you can catch ghost carp on any conventional carp fishing baits.

    These include:

    • Boilies
    • Pellets
    • Sweetcorn
    • Pop-Ups
    • Wafters
    • Prawns
    • Mussels

    As well as the typical hookbaits, ghost carp will also be fond of micro pellets, groundbait, hemp or any other common ingredients you choose to use in any prebaiting or feeder mix.

    That’s All

    Ghost carp are extremely uncommon in a carp angling setting and are more commonly bred as ornamental fish for garden ponds like most other variations of koi.

    They are the result of breeding platinum or yellow Ogon koi with common or mirror carp to create carp of solid white or yellowish colour.

    If you’re lucky enough to come across one or even a few in your carp fishing sessions, then they can be caught and targeted the same as all the other carp species.

    I hope this post helps explain what a ghost carp is and how you can catch one if you come across them.

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