Why do carp splash in shallow water - Close up of two carp splashing in water spawning

When it comes to carp angling, there is nothing much more exciting than watching a venue’s carp population splashing in the shallow waters.

To the untrained eye, this may seem like an easy opportunity to catch plenty of carp.

Unfortunately, this is not the case, and there is a very good reason why the carp are splashing in shallow water, and they will not be interested in any bait you have to throw at them.

If you turn up to a venue and see large portions of the carp population splashing in the shallow, the best thing you can do is pack up, go home and try another day again.

Let’s take a look at why carp splash in shallow water.

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  • Why Do Carp Splash in Shallow Water?

    Why do carp splash in shallow water - Carp spawning beside weeds

    The main reason carp will be seen noticeable splashing in the shallows all over the venue is when they’re spawning.

    Spawning is the reproduction cycle of carp and occurs once per year in the UK for around two days to a week, depending on the parameters of the water.

    The water temperature, the availability of food, oxygen levels in the water and longer daylight hours all contribute to the spawning period of carp when they can be found splashing on the surface.

    This will usually happen at some point in the Spring, but in tropical regions, the carp may be found splashing in the shallows and spawning throughout the year if the climate allows.

    Spawning occurs between male and female fish where sperm is released by the males and eggs released by the female, fertilised in the shallow water.

    The female fish will become full of millions of eggs before spawning, and once the parameters are right will move to the shallows, where many male fish will begin nudging and swimming side by side with the female carp, which causes all the splashing in the shallow water.

    The male fish will have developed “breeding nodules” on their head and pectoral fins, which look like small raised white spots. 

    During the nudging and splashing, the male carp will release milt into the water, which has around 30-60 seconds to fertilise the released eggs from the females.

    This spawning happens in shallow waters, usually no more than 4 feet deep, as the eggs will stick to underwater vegetation and weeds to avoid predators.

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    Can You Catch Spawning Carp?

    Unfortunately, trying to catch spawning carp is a complete waste of time, and they will be focused on nothing else other than breeding.

    Many commercial fisheries will close during the spawning period to allow their fish stocks to breed in peace.

    Sometimes, just sitting and watching these fish swim and splash in the shallows is enough to get the excitement going without actually putting any fish in the net.

    If you fish in public water and find carp spawning, then give them peace to spawn and don’t bother casting to them.

    The period’s pre and post-spawn can actually be great times to catch carp.

    As spawning approaches, the carp will begin to feed heavier if conditions allow, as they know they could be going through a few days with little to no food consumption.

    This is the same for after the spawn; as they finish spawning the fish will need to replenish energy lost and be on the hunt for their next protein fix.

    If you can time you’re fishing session before and after the spawn, you could be in for some good sport.

    Surface Feeding

    Why do carp splash in shallow water - Carp feeding on surface

    Sometimes you may find carp swimming and feeding on the surface throughout the year, which can cause small splashes. This will not be as noticeable as during spawning periods.

    The good news is, if you arrive and the fish are showing this behaviour then you better believe they are catchable.

    On warm and sunny days where the sun heats the top few feet of water, you may find the carp basking and cruising in the sun.

    If you find a group of carp in the shallow water eating from the surface outwith spawning periods, then you can give surface fishing and stalking a go.

    This an extremely easy method of carp fishing and only involves a light rod, a small hook tied to your line and a small pouch of floating bait such as bread or dog biscuits.

    This method is called stalking, as you are looking to locate the fish and slowly make your way to the bank beside them without spooking the fish.

    Once you are in place, you can start by throwing a few pieces of your floating bait above the carp to see how they react.

    If they start happily gulping in your bait, you could be in with a chance of putting one in the net.

    Squeeze a piece of bread or rig a dog biscuit, and then cast over the fish gently.

    With a bit of the luck, the fish will happily take the bait.

    Stalking really can be as easy as that.

    That’s All

    More often than not, if you find carp splashing in the shallows, then they will be going through their spawning period to reproduce, and you’ll have no chance to catch them.

    On the other hand, if you find fish splashing and feeding on the surface out with these spawning periods, then the chances are you could be in with a chance of catching them.

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