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CarpScientific Name

Cyprinus carpio

Other Common Names

German carp, European carp, mud bass, buglemouth bass


Very large member of the minnow family. Thick bodied, with a brassy sheen, humped back, very large scales, large lips, barbles extending from lips, and spines on the front of dorsal and anal fins. Commonly attain 15 to 20 lbs.

Best Fishing

Lakes: Western Branch, Claytor and Prince. Rivers: Rappahannock, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Potomac, Shenandoah and James.

Fishing Techniques

Carp have acute senses of hearing, smell and taste, and are very skittish in clear water. They will bite in hot summer when other fish are not very active, but are a challenge to catch on hook and line. Carp often go on feeding sprees after a rain. Sometimes it pays to chum an area with kernel corn, oatmeal, cooked vegetables or similar materials. Baits include bread dough balls, canned corn or peas, marshmallows, cheese mixed with cotton to keep it on the hook, and worms. Baits must lie on unobstructed bottom. Tackle is usually a spinning, spincasting or casting rod at least six feet long with plenty of backbone; reels should be fitted with at least 100 yds. of 12 to 30 lb. test line. Hooks from #2 down to #10 are favored, and a sliding sinker should be used because of the carp’s wariness.

Feeding Habits

Carp dig down into the bottom or amid vegetation, sucking up mouthfuls of silt and debris, somehow straining out food items such as snails, mussels, vegetation, worms, aquatic larvae and organic debris through their gill rakers, then spitting out mud and other non-food particles.


Not native to the U.S., but widely introduced in the late 1800’s and found in all Virginia drainages. Prefers clean water, but capable of tolerating and dominating degraded waters. Prefers sluggish, vegetated areas with soft bottoms.

Spawning Habits

Spawns in shallow bays, tributary headwaters, marshy river sloughs and marshes, wallowing around muddy shallows amid cattails or other emergent vegetation where they lay their eggs. Broadcasts its eggs in late April and early May over and amid aquatic vegetation.