Carp Movements In The Great Lakes And Other Clear Waters

Carp Movements In The Great Lakes And Other Clear Waters

The first shallow movements in spring will be to shallow, warm backwater areas (A). Protected bays (B) will be next. By early summer, carp find nearby mainlake flats (C), and by mid to late summer they spread to islands (D), and more distant flats.

Flats Fare For Carp

Marabou, bucktail, or plastic trailers mimic what carp feed on and slow the drop rate of a jig. Simple nymph and streamer patterns and smaller marabou jigs on the end of a fly-line drop even slower. The two jigs on top are von Schrader's homemade carp specials.


Cruisers: Casts must be placed close, but not on top of cruising fish. Aim ahead of and beyond the pack. A jig landing 4 to 6 feet in front and slightly beyond is perfect (bull's eye).


Feeders: You can cast well beyond a feeder and reel back to it, as it tends to remain in an open spot for long periods. Otherwise, the rule for cruisers applies. Remember, however, that slow jig drop weight is the best trigger most days. A jig placed within 4 to 6 feet might draw an aggressive response. Any closer and carp spook.


Baiting

Top English angler and English fishing editor Bob Roberts has baited a few carp in his day, including Great Lakes carp. He says seeds, corn, beans, and full-kernel wheat make proper baits. A good bait for starters is hardened field corn. Cover it with enough water to allow for expansion and soak it for about two days. Then boil it for an hour or until it's just soft enough to push apart with your thumbnail. Before draining, stir in a flavor enhancer, like vanilla, or any common flavoring used in cooking. Or try the taste sensations designed for carp in Europe. As a common guideline, add about a teaspoon of flavoring for every pint of bait.


"Much better to underdo the flavoring," Roberts said. "If you overdo the flavoring, it's like too much salt and vinegar on the chips. 'Scuse me, you call them fries, don't you? Too much salt on the fries as opposed to just right, you see? They spit it out if it's overdone."

Baiting An Area


Bob Roberts suggests baiting an area roughly the size of a tennis court. "If you group it all in one spot, carp will eat it all too quickly," Roberts said. "Spread the bait properly and less bait will occupy more fish for a longer period of time. Use enough to attract, but spread it so carp cruise the area. That way you get a definite pull. Carp pick up the bait and move on, providing a distinct bite.

"It doesn't really matter where you place your rig within the spread, but hot spots will appear as the day progresses, so cast to different spots after each fish and each miss until you can identify these spots." They could be soft-bottom spots in a hard-bottom bay, or vice versa, Roberts adds. "Find these spots by 'leading,' using the sinker as it drags bottom to identify changes in bottom makeup. Watch the rod tip. It will bounce more as the lead encounters gravel, less as it drags through silt."

In rivers, carp guide Bernie Haines spreads bait in two basic fashions. "If you aren't certain where carp are swimming through an area, put the bait in a line extending from shore that leads carp in or out to the hook," Haines says. "If carp are some distance from shore, take a boat out some 30 to 100 yards, drop the bait in a bull's-eye pattern less than 10 yards in diameter, then drop a marker buoy a prescribed distance from it. From shore, use enough weight to reach your target and drop your rig in the center of the bull's eye."

If carp are feeding on the surface? "Bait the area with dog biscuits," Roberts says, "very small ones, about 1/2-inch in diameter. With the right tackle, you can cast a small float to control the hook and bait at some distance. Simply bait your hook with a small square of dog biscuit. They float, and carp suck them right off the surface." Walkin' the dog biscuit for topwater carp action!

Recommended for You

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites. Walleye

Spring is Prime Time for River Walleyes

Dan Johnson - February 22, 2018

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites.

This is not your run-of-the-mill fish recipe! Buttery, savory pecans are seasoned up to make an irresistible and addictive crust for catfish fillets Fish Recipes

Pecan-Crusted Catfish Fillets Recipe

Emilie Bailey

This is not your run-of-the-mill fish recipe! Buttery, savory pecans are seasoned up to make...

Blackened fish ready to serve with a side of okra and cucumber-red onion salad. This recipe is a treat! Fish Recipes

Blackened Fish Recipe

Tommy Thompson

Blackened fish ready to serve with a side of okra and cucumber-red onion salad. This recipe is...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Largemouth Bass: Tricks of Our Trade

Largemouth Bass: Tricks of Our Trade

The In-Fisherman staff reveals insider swimming jig tips and tricks for big bass.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at catching Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and other Catfish

Catfish Pole Rigs

Richard Peterson with In-Fisherman - April 28, 2016

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and...

See More Stories

More Carp

Survey Says? 'Asian carp populations have exploded and now stretch throughout many large river Carp

Carp Taste Test

Quinton Phelps - March 15, 2016

Survey Says? 'Asian carp populations have exploded and now stretch throughout many large river



The St. Lawrence River is one of the finest carp waters in North America. Those who know it gauge Carp

How To Catch Carp

Lonnie King - May 24, 2015

The St. Lawrence River is one of the finest carp waters in North America. Those who know it...

Grass Carp
To catch a grass carp, toss a salad. Throw in some cherry tomatoes, lettuce, celery, pea Carp

Those Other Fish: Grass Carp

Keith Sutton - October 29, 2012

Grass Carp To catch a grass carp, toss a salad. Throw in some cherry tomatoes, lettuce,...

See More Carp

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.