Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

The species of carp most frequently found throughout Britain is known as the common carp. There are three cultivated varieties of this species-leather, mirror and common-and wild type. Most common carp have broad, deep bodies and brown backs. Their flanks range from the deep brown and yellow of most leathers to the golden sheen of wildies. Compared to the more frequently fished cultivated varieties of carp, the true wild carp are more barbel–like in shape. Long and lean-bodied, they look every inch a hard fighting, fast moving fish.


The preferred habitat of a carp is still water – a mature lake, rich in plant life and nutrients, is ideal. But as they are extremely adaptable, they are also common in lowland reservoirs, canals, and rivers.

Feeding habits

Adult carp with their sensitive feelers (barbels) and vacuum- like mouths, are best suited to bottom feeding. They spend most of their time rooting around in the mud at the bottom of lakes and rivers, and nothing that lives on or in the mud, including snails, crayfish, bloodworms, mussels and shrimps, is safe from the digging of carp. But as any angler can tell you, carp also feed in mid-water and come up to the surface for floating food. Though not strictly predators, large carp have on occasion been known to eat other fish. Temperature is well known to affect feeding. If the water is colder than 14 Celsius (57f), carp feed less readily. However, canny anglers have proved that carp can still be persuaded to feed even in winter.

Fish facts

Weight: Up to 25kg (55lbs)
Average Length: Up to 89cm (35in)  
Life-span: 40 years+
Favourite waters: Still waters but also rivers and canals
Favourite baits: Sweetcorn, trout pellets, bread, bollies, nuts, floating baits etc
UK Record: 61lb 7oz (L Jackson 2002)