Why are carp so slimy - Carp on landing mat

Carp are an extremely high-value sport fish in the UK, with millions of anglers spending a lot of time on the water in the hope of putting some of these hard-fighting fish in the net.

Their elusive nature and hard fighting ability, once hooked, make for great sport, and many beginner anglers are still breaking onto the scene in the hope of putting a few fish in the net.

A question I’ve heard many beginner anglers asking is, “Why are carp so slimy”, and I can see why.

After a successful fishing session, your landing net and mat can be covered in a layer of slime that doesn’t smell the best once slotted back into your car.

There is a very good reasons carp and other fish species have this layer of slime, and you should do everything you can to avoid removing this layer of slime.

In this post, I will focus on why carp are so slimy and the importance of taking care of these fish (and their layer of slime) once they are out of the water.

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  • Why are Carp so Slimy?

    If you’ve ever caught a fish, you will be well aware that most species are covered by a layer of slime (some more than others), and carp slot themselves into the bracket of some of the slimiest.

    This slime is a protective coating that protects the fish from harmful bacteria and infections in the water.

    The slime of carp and other fish is secreted from cells in the outside layer of their skin. The slime produced is called glycoprotein and once mixed with water, the slimy touch of carp is produced.

    Carp also use their slimy body as a sort of shield for waterborne parasites; this slime deters and prevents some parasites from being able to attach to them.

    If care is not taken not to remove much of this slime, then the carp becomes susceptible to these infections and bacteria that can ultimately result in the death of the fish.

    As anglers, the safety of the fish we love to catch should be a top priority in looking after the carp population in the venues we all like to fish.

    How to Avoid Removing Slime Coatings?

    Why are carp so slimy - Carp in net on an unhooking mat

    There are simple steps that all carp anglers should take to avoid removing this slime coating and exposing the carp to disease and infections.

    Most fisheries will have rules that ensure every angler uses a proper landing net and unhooking mat when dealing with fish on the banks.

    You should always make sure your hands, nets and landing mats are wet when handling any fish out of the water. This minimises the risk of their protective coating sticking to dry surfaces and ensures the carp are released back into the water as healthy as possible.

    Unhooking Mats

    These soft mats are used for placing the fish on once caught and out of the water. They are usually made of some sort of foam and help ensure the carp don’t injure themselves when on the banks.

    If you don’t use a landing mat, the fish can struggle and damage its scales and body on sharp objects on the ground.

    Also, if you place the carp on the dry ground, its slime coating can be taken off, and dirt and debris can stick to the fish.

    Once again, ensure your mat is soaking wet before taking the fish out of the water and placing it on the mat.

    It’s good practice to have a small bucket of water nearby to keep the mat and carp wet when it’s out of the water.

    Landing Nets

    Why are carp so slimy - Netting Carp

    A correct landing net with the correct netting is also required to avoid damaging carp or removing their protective slime.

    When fishing for carp, you should make sure your net is big enough. Carp fishing nets are typically between 40-50 inches wide and much deeper than other fishing nets to allow space for these large fish.

    Most carp nets will use mesh no bigger than 15mm to protect the scaley carp bodies.

    What to Do if You Come Across an Injured Carp?

    If you come across carp that have missing scales, predatory wounds or, for some reason, the carp cuts or grazes itself when you’re landing the fish (this shouldn’t happen if proper care is taken), you should carry around an antiseptic spray to help treat the fish.

    This spray will rid the fish of any bacteria and helps wounds heal once the fish is released safely back into the water.

    That’s All

    Carp are slimy for a handful of reasons, the main one being to protect their body from parasites, diseases and infections.

    It is extremely important that we, as anglers take care of these fish once they are on the banks so other anglers can enjoy catching them too.

    If you use a landing mat and a suitable landing net and keep everything wet while handling the fish carefully, there should be no reason why you remove any of their protective slime coatings and injure the carp.

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