Small Waters Strategies – Monster carp

Small Waters Strategies – Monster carp

Apr 28, 2013

Carp Fishing: The Monster in Your Own Backyard

By Mike Pehanich

If you love the challenge and fight of big fish, try carp fishing with tools and baits designed for the “monsters” that swim in waters large and small across the United States!

Angler alert: there’s a monster in your backyard!

It’s true. And if you thrill to the pull of a big fish, you’ll go out and meet the monster – on your terms or his!”

“Carp can grow big in small waters,” says Munenori Kajiwara, carp expert and U.S. distributor for Marukyu, Japan’s largest manufacturer of ground and dough baits for carp. “And it is so much easier to catch a 20-inch carp than a 20-inch bass. And carp get so much bigger, too!”

Like father, like son! Lintaro Kajiwara cashed in on one of his dad's ground bait tips with this golden beauty. Large carp are found in countless waters, large and small, across the United States.

Indeed, they do! Carp of five and 10 pounds are common and a 20-pounder is well within reach in waters large and small across the country.

Numbers are great. Catching a limit is an accomplishment. Taking a personal best for a given species is a landmark. But nothing matches the throbbing surge of a special fish, and, make no mistake, a giant carp that is artfully captured can be something special!

“I tell families at my carp fishing seminars that there is a monster in their backyards,” says Kajiwara, a tournament carp angler born in Japan. “You can catch big carp almost everywhere, and they really fight! If you want your kids and your whole family to experience the fight of a big fish, try carp fishing!”

As a tournament carp fisherman, Kajiwara has sophisticated equipment that would dazzle and dismay the legions of North American carp bashers – and impress even pro bass and musky fishermen. His artillery includes quad pods, electronic bite detectors, clever terminal rigs, and pricey rods and reels fine-tuned to the task.

Yet the price of entry for quality carp fishing can be low. A modestly priced rig can be more than adequate if you do some smart shopping. The price of participation will be modest, too, since the overwhelming majority of carp angling takes place from the bank.

Last frontier

Carp are ignored across most of North America, but that’s hardly the case around the rest of the globe. The carp is a prized catch in much of Asia, including Russia and Japan, and extremely popular in Europe. That has left carp aficionados in the United States an almost untapped resource.

Lake Erie/Niagara River guide Terry Jones chanced into this carp at the mouth of the Lower Niagara between catches of smallmouth bass and steelhead, but you will catch more giant carp if you target them with the right baits and tactics.

“The U.S. is the last frontier for carp fishing on Planet Earth,” says Kajiwara “And a lot of small waters produce very large carp.”

I can vouch for that! My cousins hooked a tackle-busting mystery fish in their farm pond a number of years ago. The giant broke off unseen after several sizzling runs. Later that season, a “monster” carp upwards of 35 pounds came to the surface during an electro-shock survey.

No carp had ever been seen or reported from that pond. So half the mystery remains!

Carp often thrive in waters with marginal game fish populations due to depth or lack of suitable habitat. My fishing partner John Hynds manages a lake in northern Illinois with a fluctuating bass and panfish population but a reliable population of willing carp year after year.

Nature has equipped carp with some of the best survival tools in the underwater world. They can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures, low levels of dissolved oxygen, and turbid or even polluted water conditions.

And their instincts have earned them a reputation as one of the “smartest” fish in fresh water.

Under pressured fishing conditions carp can be elusive and angler-wary, which is why serious carp anglers have developed such refined rigs.

Yet they can be comparatively easy prey in waters where angler offerings generally answer few if any of the carp’s natural cravings. True, worms and other natural baits catch their share of carp and even artificial lures — from flies to hardbaits  — take the occasional monster, but nothing compares to a bait that appeals to the carp’s refined senses of taste and smell.

Another monster in the backyard! Big carp are plentiful in small waters, and they can grow to tackle-busting dimensions. Carp fishing is an easy way to treat your family members to the thrill of fighting big fish.

Baiting up!

“Ground baiting” is common practice within the carp fraternity. Practitioners spread mixes of grains, vegetables and animal and insect protein to attract or keep roaming carp in an area. Many North American carp anglers have used corn both as an attractant and a hook bait, but prepared baits formulated to carp tastes produce far better results. They have a more favorable effect on the aquatic environment and fish health as well!

Marukyu, which is the largest manufacturer of carp baits in Japan and one of the largest players in the global market, entered the U.S. market in 2012 with both “ground baits” to attract carp and “hook baits,” hardened dough bait formulations intended for the business end of the angler’s line. Today those baits are available in select retail and on-line stores or through direct order. (Try one of the retailers listed at the end of this feature, or call Munenori Kajiwara at 630-299-6508)

“Ground baits come in multiple sizes, colors and flavors,” explains Kajiwara. “Marukyu designed the baits for specific water conditions, water temperatures and seasons.”

Particle size is the biggest variable in seasonal selection of ground bait varieties, though some carp anglers opt for large particle ground baits strictly with the intention of attracting larger carp.

Marukyu sells a wide assortment of sizes, colors and flavors of baits formulated by some of the foremost carp experts from Japan, the United Kingdom and France. Marukyu baits are available at Lee's Global Tackle Connection.

“Boilies” are the “hook baits” of choice for serious carp fishermen. These rounded balls of grain, fruits and faunal protein catch carp on every continent.

“Marukyu makes two types of boilies: a bottom type and a ‘pop-up’ or floating type,” explains Kajiwara. “The ABR, or ‘advanced boilie recipe’ baits were designed in the United Kingdom with the intention of catching monster fish there, but we are catching a lot of fish in the U.S. with them!”

If you are planning to face the monster in your backyard any time soon, try serving him from a menu he prefers. But hold on to your rod. You will find some real monsters out there!


Marukyu carp baits are currently available through these retailers:

Lee’s Bait & Tackle, Elk Grove Village, IL  Phone: 1-847-593-6424

Wacker Bait & Tackle, 1422 W. Roosevelt Road, Broadview, IL   Phone: 1-708-450-0305

Anglers International Resources, 1272 E. Dundee Road, Palatine, IL  Phone: 1-847-991-3200

Westside Bait & Tackle, 1507 W. Vermont Street, Indianapolis, IN  Phone: 1-317-636-6236

Little Dipper Bait & Tackle, 26464 W. Huron River Drive, Flat Rock, MI  Phone: 1-734-782-4277



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