Carp Feeding

carp feeding

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To catch carp more efficiently, you need to learn about their feeding habits.

But instead of relying on the traditional word of mouth of carp anglers, you’ll be better off learning about the ins and outs of how carp feed, especially in deeper waters.

Moreover, it’s essential to learn about what carp eat. And while you could use popular bait options used by many anglers, adding creativity to your technique can boost your carp fishing.

So read on as we go over everything you need to know about carp feeding habits and other tips to help catch carp.

Everything You Need to Know About How Carp Feed

To fully understand how carp eat, we’re going to break it down into several sections about the feeding habits of carp, how carp find food, the natural food that carp eat, and the types of bait and other supplies you can use to boost your carp fishing.

The Feeding Habits of Carp

If you frequent a specific fishing spot, you might start getting used to the same schools of carp that live there or pass by often.

Therefore, it’s good to know the behaviours these carp follow as that can help you catch more fish.

feeding habits of carp

Patterns, Behaviours, and Feeding Times in Carp

study of food handling in carp used light technology to analyse carp while eating different foods, such as pellets, earthworms, and barley, at different times of the day.

Furthermore, the study looked at the head movements of the carp while they were eating.

The results suggested that carp had the highest energy levels during feeding times around dusk and continued for a bit after dark, so this is probably the best time to go angling if you want to catch carp.

However, you might have better luck in the morning in different conditions. It all comes down to where you’re fishing so it might take some trial and error.

But that’s not all. There are a few more noteworthy behaviours that carp tend to follow before they eat.

For instance, carp can smell the salt and flavour particles that come off your bait underwater and are usually attracted to them.

Once they’re at the bait, they’ll pump water onto the food to wash off any inedible particles before they suck the bait into their mouths.

If the fish finds something suspicious with the food, such as a hook, it’ll leave it alone entirely. Otherwise, it’ll pull the food to the back of its mouth, where it’ll chew it with its teeth.

For this reason, you might want to use a hair rig instead of putting food directly on a metal hook that might repel the fish away.

Feeding Mechanisms in Carp

Now we’ll look at the anatomy of carp while they’re feeding using information from the aptly named feeding mechanisms in carp study.

Since carp are bottom feeders, they tend to eat off the ground, so that’s what the study focused on.

The main focus of the study was to find how carp anatomically separate edible particles from what they consider junk, such as gravel and debris.

Two main theories were being tested here:

  1. Are the carp using a cavity at the back of their mouths to keep edible particles while they expel inedible parts through slits in their gills?
  2. Do carp use filters in their mouths to sieve out parts that don’t taste like regular food?

The results suggested that carp use the first method when dealing with larger lumps, such as micropellets, and the second when eating smaller food particles with a relatively low density, like particle bait.

How the Weather Can Affect the Carp Feeding Routine

How the Weather Can Affect the Carp Feeding Routine

A carp’s ideal food court is a water body with an adequate amount of oxygen, a moderate water temperature, shelter, and a good food source.

As the weather can affect some of these factors, there are better conditions to angle carp than others.

For example, if you choose to fish in calm waters without much wind or rain, you’ll likely yield fewer results than if you went someplace where the tide is strong.

That’s because when it’s windy, raining, or the water body is generally moving fast, the food particles at the bottom will stir up and present themselves to the carp and attract them.

The wind can also supply water with oxygen, so waves are typically a good sign.

Lastly, carp, like many creatures, get lazy during winter when their metabolism slows down in the cold. So you can expect less carp activity in cold weather, and their feeding practically stops if the temperature drops below 4° Celsius (about 40° Fahrenheit).

How Carp Find Food

Instead of going to a generic fishing spot or following other anglers, you can learn about the patterns that carp naturally follow when they’re hungry.

By doing so, you can anticipate the hot spots and catch carp there.

How Carp Search for Food

Before carp find your bait, they’ll have to search for it first. So what senses do carp use to hunt for their sustenance?

Since carp are such great foragers, they rely on several methods to look for food in different situations and water depths.

The most obvious sense carp use is sight. They have two sharp eyes on each side of their heads with good enough vision to spot food and potential predators.

Otherwise, the fish also use their olfactory senses to smell and dissolve potential food particles, such as salt, flavour, sugar, and other nutrients.

And since carp typically roam around the bottom, they might move over some food that their wide eyes can’t spot. In these cases, the fish use either the barbels around their mouths or their pectoral and pelvic fins, both of which have taste buds, to detect edible particles.

Once the fish locates its potential meal, it uses its mouth to sample the substance and determine if it’s edible.

Where Do Carp Feed

Where Do Carp Feed?

When looking for carp hot spots, you’ll typically need to determine the location and the water depth since it can vary depending on some factors.

For example, carp are naturally bottom feeders and stick to the ground. But during colder temperatures, a carp likes to eat in shallow waters where the temperature is warmer.

Big carp tend to feed in crowded spots where they’ll find varied food sources in enough supply to satisfy their extra weight.

However, you’ll need to track these big fish patiently if you want a shot at catching them. And it might take a few days of stalking to determine their movement patterns.

How Much Do Carp Feed?

The exact amount of food a carp eats depends on its size and weight. Smaller carp can eat once a day off the bottom, while big carp eat several times a day to satiate their immense hunger.

In general, carp are big eaters relative to their size. On average, they can eat around 2% of their body weight per day or up to 3% in warmer weather. But this number can vary depending on the specific carp’s body.

But if you’ve ever had a small pet, you’ll likely know that these “limitations” are often idealistic. A carp won’t stop indulging in its meal once it’s eaten enough, and will continue to feed until it can’t anymore.

Carp will also try to tick off their nutritional checklist by eating various food. So if they haven’t had enough protein or carbohydrates, they might eat a bit more until they satisfy it.

What Do Carp Eat

What Do Carp Eat?

Next up, we’ll look at what carp eat. It’s often best to use some natural ingredients in your bait.

So when you’re targeting carp, you should use the foods they naturally crave to increase your chances of attracting them.

This can be a complicated topic for some people since carp eat at different water depths, temperatures, and other conditions.

Besides, different types of carp might prefer certain foods. So you should adapt your fishing to your situation.

The Natural Diet of a Carp

Although the common carp is a fighter, it’s also a very opportunistic eater and will eat a large variety of food, including whatever it deems edible underwater.

Also, the common carp is omnivorous, so it feeds on small insects, worms, fish eggs, small fish, and plants and plant matter or algae.

Fortunately, carp feed on many of the foods we use as bait, so many anglers tend to use whatever bait they have at the store when carp fishing.

Here are a few of the foods that carp naturally eat in the wild:

  • Aquatic plants: any vegetation underwater, including the main plant, roots, and seeds. They’ll also eat decaying plant matter at the bottom, known as detritus.
  • Insects: carp sometimes go near the surface and leap up to swallow a mosquito, beetle, dragonfly, damselfly, or whatever other insects it finds.
  • Crustaceans and molluscs: carp fish use their sharp molars to break apart the hard shells that crustaceans use to protect themselves from predators, so prawns, crayfish, snails, clams, oysters, and mussels are often easy prey.
  • Fish: carp will feed on live or dead fish and fish eggs.

The Natural Diet of a Carp

What Do Carp Eat at Different Water Depths?

As mentioned above, carp are naturally bottom feeders since they find their shelter from predators near the bottom.

However, some factors that affect how carp feed can also cause them to move up the water column when it’s feeding time.

At the bottom, carp can feed on falling aquatic plants, detritus, and smaller bottom feeders like crayfish.

But near the surface, they can eat floating plants or even leap out of the water for a bite at some insects.

At the mid-level, though, they’ll eat whatever comes their way there, such as smaller fish or stems of aquatic plants.

The Best Bait for Carp Fishing

Lastly, we’ll touch on the baits, boilies, and additives you can use on your journey to help you catch more carp.

Best Bait to Catch Carp

You can use hundreds of natural and artificial ingredients to make bait, and you can even combine some of them to spice up your bait game.

Anglers often experiment with different types of food, and you should do that too.

Conveniently, most carp types are nice enough to accept most bait choices. But if you still want some pointers, here are the best baits to use for different carp:

  • Common carp: they’ll eat just about anything, but they prefer boilies, molluscs, sweet corn, and bread.
  • Mirror carp: Maize, worms, maggots, and pellets.
  • Leather carp: corn, dough balls, and peas.
  • Ghost carp: aquatic vegetation, insects, and fish eggs.
  • Grass carp: aquatic vegetation, but they also like corn floaties, bread, and sometimes spices.

what are boilies

What Are Boilies?

Carp boilies are a common bait explicitly made for carp fishing.

Boilies typically consist of fishmeals, milk proteins, semolina, and bird food mixed in egg white, which sticks them together and then boiled until it hardens.

You can buy ready-made boilies in fishing stores, but some anglers like to make them at home.

Boilies also come at different buoyancy levels since carp tend to feed at different depths. You could also use bigger boilies if you’re targeting bigger carp.

Colour variation is another crucial point when picking your boilies. For example, if you’re fishing in murky or deep waters, you’ll want to use bright-coloured boilies, such as pink or white ones.

There are even fluorescent boilies if you need the visibility. Just avoid using green or blue ones since they can blend in with the underwater flora.

Final Words

That’s going to be it for our carp feeding guide! To summarise, carp are natural bottom feeders, so they gravitate towards the ground. However, they’ll eat at different water depths depending on the weather and food scarcity.

Carp will also eat just about anything since they’re relatively aggressive eaters. But they tend to prefer boilies (artificial bait), molluscs, plants, and corn.

And remember that you might need some experimentation before finding your perfect carp fishing spot, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, and leave us a comment if you have any questions!

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