Carp are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything they come across that they deem edible.
As carp are bottom-feeders, they spend a lot of time cruising the bottom of the water in search of anything they can consume.
Carp use their sense of smell, eyesight and a highly sensitive olfactory system to sense dissolved substances in the water, such as salts, sugars and proteins.
They also find food by tasting using taste buds on their barbels, pectoral and pelvic fins and by tasting with their mouths.
Many experienced anglers use maggots to target carp in certain situations, but still, I come across many beginner carp anglers asking, “Will Carp Eat Maggots?”
In this post, I’ll explain exactly why carp eat maggots, the various other foodstuffs that carp are fond of eating and also some guidance on how to hook maggots effectively.
Will Carp Eat Maggots
Yep, without a doubt, in certain situations, maggots can be a highly effective bait for catching plenty of carp.
Maggots mimic other waterborne insect larvae that carp will be more than used to seeing and feeding on.
The wriggling of live maggots is great at attracting carp into a swim, and the addition of dyes can further aid in the attraction by providing a bait that can stand out in a swim.
Carp can eat a lot of maggots without filling themselves up, which can keep them in a baited swim for longer when they dig around and search for more of these wriggly creatures.
This is a massive benefit over baiting with boilies or pellets, which can easily fill up the fish quickly with their high protein content and other filling ingredients.
If the fish come to your swim, gorge on a handful of baited boilies and pellets, then leave, full and satisfied, you’re out of luck.
You ideally want the fish to stay in your swim for as long as possible in the hopes they finally come across the hook bait attached to your rig.
Fishing with maggots can work exceptionally well for catching carp, especially in the colder winter months.
In these colder months, the carp become less active; they feed less and move less.
When they do feed, it’s usually a smaller amount than in the warm months, and they are much more selective; this is part of the reason why maggots are so effective during this time.
The Downside of Using Maggots for Carp
One of the major downsides of using maggots to catch carp is the “nuisance” fish that also take a liking to this food.
Nuisance fish usually refers to small silvers and other species of small fish that are undesirable to catch for many anglers when they are on the banks, specifically trying to target carp.
However, this may not be an issue for some people and maybe a positive. If you are looking to catch as many fish as possible, no matter the size or species, then maggots or worms are your best bet.
If you are baiting with maggots, they will bring in a whole range of other fish species such as roach, rudd, perch, gudgeon, dace and near enough every other fish species in the water column.
These smaller fish will easily pluck maggots from hooks leaving your rig at the bottom with no bait attached. This is a fishing nightmare.
If your rig is left with no bait attached for long periods, you are wasting large portions of your fishing session.
What Colour of Maggots Are Best?
If you’re an experienced angler, I’m sure you’ll be aware that your bait’s colour can impact how many fish you put in the net.
Maggots are naturally whites in colour, with dead maggots (casters) having an orange colour.
You will also commonly find red maggots mixed with white natural maggots that are the same as white maggots, apart from adding some dye.
The meat used to “farm” the maggots is also sometimes dyed to change the colour of the maggot as they feed and grow.
Many people will opt for red maggots as they are thought to mimic the colour of bloodworms which the carp will be accustomed to feeding on naturally.
White can also be better at standing out over dark bottoms. A mixture could be a good approach if you’re unsure what bottom you are fishing over and, therefore, unsure what colour will be most effective.
What Else Do Carp Eat
Carp are very opportunistic when it comes to feeding and are omnivorous.
Carp eat anything from fish eggs, dead rotting fish, snails and small crustaceans such as freshwater shrimp, small crayfish, various amphipods, and others.
They also feed on various waterborne insects, such as mayfly larvae, caddis fly larvae, other insect nymphs or whatever insect happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a carp happens to be feeding over them. Other food sources like worms, plants, and algae are also common forage for carp.
Being an opportunistic feeder than can feed on such a wide variety of food means that carp can grow big in varying habitats with food sources that can be drastically different from others, and this is part of the reason they have proliferated in other parts of the globe as invasive species.
In the winter, food gets scarce, as many food sources like eggs and bug hatches diminish or disappear entirely. This is one reason why all fish in the winter go into an energy-saving state, expending as little energy as possible, moving and feeding very seldom.
Though not all food sources disappear in these cold winter months, insects in the nymphal form are still present in the winter months, as are the various crustaceans mentioned above.
Carp in the winter months can also subsist on the remnants of plant matter as well as other organic matter like dead and decomposing fish or animal matter on the lake floor, as long as it is far enough along in decomposition enough to allow carp to feed on small pieces of the matter.
Molluscs are also on the table in the winter months, as they don’t simply disappear in the winter months, allowing carp to dig them up just below the surface when they sense their presence.
How to Hook Maggots
Now that you know, carp will eat maggots and enjoy doing so. You’ll need to know the best methods for attaching them to rigs without them wriggling themselves free or getting plucked easily by nuisance fish.
One of the simplest ways to hook maggots is to bunch them straight onto a hook. 5 or 6 maggots threaded straight onto a hook, through the head like the picture above, should do a great job standing out over a bed of bait.
If you’re looking for something slightly more advanced, you can tie up a quick rig using a maggot clip. This allows you to attach more maggots to your rig and will improve the chances of your hook setting properly if a hungry carp comes to investigate.
You can follow the video below to tie a quick maggot clip rig.
I hope this has answered your question; and you now know that carp eat maggots, and they can be a great bait choice for your next outing if you don’t mind catching other fish species.
If you are heading out for winter carp fishing, I would recommend that you rig up some maggots and give it a go.
When the fish are less active and harder to entice into feeding, a more natural and moving bait like maggots can make the difference between catching and not catching.
If you have any questions or anything you’d like to add, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you ASAP.