Why do carp jump out of the water - carp jumping

Spotting carp jumping out of the water gets the adrenaline pumping for us carp anglers.

Whether a 5lb or a 30lb brute, watching carp jump and swirl on the surface guarantees there are carp in the area for catching.

But why do carp jump out of the water? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as you’d think.

There are many reasons why carp leap out of the water, and some of these reasons might even indicate feeding patterns so you could hook yourself into some nice fish with a bit of knowledge on why these fish tend to jump.

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  • Anatomical Reason

    The main reason carp can be seen leaping straight out of the water is anatomical and most likely won’t give any tell-tale signs of feeding patterns, so purely quite boring if you ask me.

    But anyway you are here to find out why carp jump out of the water so I’ll tell you just that.

    Carp, like all fish, have swim bladders. These swim bladders are a method of controlling buoyancy in the water and therefore the depth at which the carp swims.

    The swim bladder is linked to the oesophagus and by varying the air within their swim bladder the fish can then rise or drop in the water column.

    When carp jump out of the water and land with a fairly exciting splash, the air is forced in or out of the swim bladder through the fish’s oesophagus which then allows the fish to change depths in the water.

    On shallower water, the chances of seeing fish jump are reduced quite significantly as not much pressure is built up with changes of depth, but in deeper water, you will tend to see more activity of carp leaping.

    Don’t get me wrong, carp will not always jump to change swimming depths as they can do this through natural processes, if the carp leaped from the water every time they changed depth carp fishing would be even more of an interesting experience.

    In lakes where carp travel from depths to the surface pressure increases on their swim bladder so jumping and forcing air from their swim bladder neutralizes this pressure so the carp can swim properly in the upper layers of the water.

    Cleaning Method

    Another reason that seems to hold its own is that carp leap out of the water to clean debris from their gills.

    As you all know, or at least should, carp are mainly bottom feeders and suck up food from the water bed. Of course as the carp suck in food particles of dirt and debris can also be taken in and build up in their gills.

    So why not clean this debris with a leap out of the water? When the carp hit the water rushes through their gills washing out any built-up silt or mud.

    In silty lakes, carp will rummage through the lake bed looking for food, so once again build-ups of silt occur in their gills, so a jump from the water cleans them out.

    Carp tend to find themselves bothered by parasites, so it is commonly thought that carp jump from the water as a way of ridding themselves from these parasites.

    The force of the carp hitting the water is a method of scrubbing parasites from their bodies.

    Types of Jumping

    Now onto the fun part. I’m sure you are most likely here to find out what these jumps mean relative to fishing.

    The bottom line is there is no guaranteed answer, and most are just speculation from us carp anglers. But who knows following some of these could see you into some nice fish.

    There are four ways that carp will jump which are thought to show slightly different signs;


    YouTube video

    This is where the carp leap out of the water and, unsurprisingly, come crashing down the surface causing a large splash.

    The commonly thought reason for carp doing this is as a cleaning method. A large splash can be enough to rid them of tough parasites.

    If the carp are jumping over silty parts of the venue, then this could indicate the carp are feeding and jumping to clear their gills of silt before going back down to feed some more.

    If this is the case, I’d recommend getting bait in this area ASAP as there is more than one carp feeding.

    If this is the case, try casting past the area and reeling back so as to not spook the carp out of the area.

    If the carp are crashing from areas that are not thought to be silty then most likely they are just trying to rid themselves of parasites so casting bait to them will most likely not give you any more chance of catching them.

    Head and shouldering

    This is where, also unsurprisingly, where the carp leave the water until their head and shoulders are visible on the surface with slightly less of a splash.

    This is commonly thought to indicate feeding carp once again as they rid their gills of any silt and mud build-ups.

    If you see this, I’d be casting bait to this area as once again there will be more than one carp.


    is where the carp “roll” on the surface causing even less of a splash. You are more likely to see this on large bodies of water as the carp group up and move to new parts of the water.

    This won’t necessarily indicate feeding and the chance to catch these carp, but you can try to watch where these carp are heading.

    If you can get a few rods into where these carp are heading to feed you could be in with a chance of having an action-packed session.

    If the carp are rolling and splashing in the shallows in large numbers, then the chances are the carp are spawning. Unfortunately, if this is the case your chances of catching these fish are near enough 0.

    Head poking

    As you can imagine this is where the carp poke their heads from the water. This is almost always thought to be a sign of where carp are feeding as they come to the surface to rid their gills of silt before plunging back to the depths to eat some more.

    If you spot this on the water, get a bait in there as soon as possible, and your chances of catching can be greatly increased.

    Make sure and cast beyond the feeding fish and then reel into the area to avoid spooking them are ruining all your increased chances.

    Carp are also known to stick with habits so remember this area of the water for your next sessions to give yourself an extra edge over the fish.

    Or are they just checking what peg we are on to try to avoid us?

    Now you know!

    Now you should be more than familiar with why carp tend to jump. You can put this into practice to spot signs on the water.

    The reason why carp jump in certain ways is a lot of time down to people’s personal opinions. Saying this I’ve put these tips into play many times and managed to bag some pretty nice carp.

    Was this completely down to luck? Who knows. I’d advise watching the water for these signs and give it a go; what’s there to lose?

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

    If you are interested in learning more about carp behaviours, then have read at my post that explores how carp react in the rain and if they still feed!

    2 responses to “Why do Carp Jump out of the Water?”

    1. Stuart says:

      This was really helpful to me and I can only thank you for the information and I have took it on board thanks again much appreciated

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