Basic Carp Care by Julius Klokow Compiments SA Carp Society

No. 1: BASIC Carp Care & Carp Safety
by Julius Klokow
15 June 2010

Carp care and carp safety – what it is all about

When any fish is removed from its home under water, it puts immense stress on the fish itself as well as its internal organs. The pressure of the water keeps everything inside the fish in place due to a process of almost neutral buoyancy as the water puts just enough pressure around the fish in the right proportions. It is therefore very important to not keep the fish out of the water for too long in order to limit these stresses.

You will perhaps be catching carp in excess of 40 lbs in the near future and these fish as well as the smaller ones deserve to be handled and treated with proper care. Smaller fish below 10 kg deserve the same proper treatment even if they are to be removed from the lake.

Specimen carp anglers are fanatic about fish care and safety as a whole because they have a passion for the sport they practise. They also enjoy and have respect for nature. Taking care of what nature has to offer them therefore becomes their primary concern through carp care and carp safety while practising the sport of specimen carp angling.

Let’s talk about carp safety:-

Carp safety starts with the tackle, rigs and bait you will be using for specimen carp angling as well as the spot you will be placing your line and rigs with bait. We use tackle and rigs that will be able to handle the huge forces wielded by huge carp fighting against the foreign object in their mouths and the tension of the line and sinker while they are being played by the angler. Carp safety is also very important while the fish is removed from the water and will be discussed later.

In order to use carp-friendly tackle the angler must be informed about the tackle he will be using as well as the correct way of setting up a rig so that it will not pose a hazard to the fish, should it swim into snags and/or the rig breaks free from the main line. To counter this problem the angler should look at the following:

1. If possible always have a small type of watercraft available to assist you in moving closer to obstacles to free your rig/line and/or fish when it gets snagged. Use a strong leader that is longer than the depth of the water you fish so that a snagged rig can easily be removed by pulling it free with the leader.
2. Do not fish near or over snags when using inferior fishing tackle. Take care not to place your main line over snags and rather use a floating line or attach ping-pong balls to the main line to keep it floating above snags. Do not try to fight fish through snags. If you fish over snags, always use a boat to fetch fish safely beyond it.
3. Do not fish too close to snags; rather feed 5 to 7 metres away from snags and feed small lines of feed from the snags to the feeding zone in order to lure the fish away from the snags to a safe distance for fishing. Keep close to your rods while waiting for a fish to bite in order to turn the fish away from snags as soon as possible. Have a boat on standby to fetch the fish if it perhaps gets snagged.
4. Don’t use rigs that will not be able to drop the weight if it breaks free from the main line. Rather use a safety clip to which the weight can be attached and easily dropped when a fish swims into snags or starts to fight against the weight.
5. Ensure that the hook link has a smaller breaking strain than the whole set-up in order for the hook link to break from the rig first.
6. Where possible refrain from using leader lines or leadcore as it could become a hazard when broken off or towed along by a fish if the hook link does not break first.
7. Your rig set-up should always be weaker than the main line or leader. If you want to fish with a heavier rig set-up you should also advance your main line to ultimately cater for a weaker rig set-up.
8. Use proper fishing rods that have a test curve of at least 3 to 3.5 lbs.
9. Use quality reels that have proper brake systems and operate smoothly.
10. With regard to bait and particles: Do not use bait or particles that may be hazardous to fish, such as uncooked peanuts, etc. (Please take note of the particle preparation guidelines at the end of this article.)

Let’s talk about carp care:-

Carp care is the core function of the specimen carp angler when the fish is removed from the water. Fish can be easily injured by foreign objects such as nets, rocks, ground and sticks (which damage and remove the scales and mucus) as well as the sun and air (drying out the skin).

To properly practise carp care (or care of any other fish for that matter) it is very important to use the correct basic carp-friendly equipment to limit the abovementioned problems. This includes:

1. a proper size carp-friendly landing net
2. a bucket of cool lake water
3. a proper-sized, padded unhooking mat that is wetted before placing the fish on it
4. a fish-hook disgorger or forceps to remove a hook that is difficult to get out
5. an anti-bacterial solution, like Klinik from Kryston or First Aid from Pelzer, to treat hook holds and other wounds
6. a proper-sized carp-safe weigh sling and weighing stand

Remember to clean all your carp-friendly equipment with clean water and perhaps an antibacterial solution after fishing to curb the spreading of diseases. It also feels great to start a new session with clean equipment being unpacked.

The following preparations and carp-safe suggestions should be taken to heart while the fish is being handled:

1. Always prepare your unhooking mat, other carp safe equipment and photo gear at the start of the session so that it would be in place before lifting the carp out of the water.
2. Choose a nice spot for your photographs beforehand.
3. When the carp is in the net the landing net arms can be folded together and the carp can then be carried to the unhooking mat.
4. Before you place the carp onto the unhooking mat make sure the mat is wet.
5. Leave the carp on the mat for a little while (not too long) and cover it with a wet carp sack until it has calmed down a bit.
6. Wet the fish from time to time to keep its skin moist.
7. Once it has calmed down it is hopefully ready for the photo session.
8. Pick up and hold the fish steady by sliding your wet hands underneath the fish and placing the pectoral and anal fins between your fingers. Don't pick up or hold the fish directly under its stomach because its intestines will be pressurised and may be damaged.
9. While posing with the fish, sit in a manner that is both comfortable for you to keep the fish steady and holding the fish over the unhooking mat.
10. If the carp has lost a scale it can be treated with an anti-bacterial solution.
11. If the light is too bad to take a photograph the carp can be sacked (one fish per sack) but for the shortest time possible until the light is good enough for photographing.
12. Traditional keepnet use is a big no-no as it hurts the fish badly by removing the scales and tearing the fins.
13. While shifting the fish from the landing net or shifting it over to the weigh sling take care not to let it slip from your hands or the unhooking mat.
14. When handling a difficult fish it can be turned on its back upon which it will normally stop struggling.
15. Take care of the fins so that they are not torn or broken while removing the fish from the landing net, weigh sling or while zipping up the weigh sling.
16. The purpose of the unhooking mat is to keep the fish safe from foreign objects and to serve as a safe cushion for the fish when it slips from your hands. However, it is not good for a carp to be dropped on even an unhooking mat. Therefore try to keep it under control and rather let it lie down again until it has calmed down.
17. Rather carry the fish on the carp mat or in the weigh sling to the water; never just use your hands.
18. Never put your fingers inside the gill plates of the fish or your thumb in its mouth because you will damage the gills.
19. Kindly release all carp weighing 10 kg and more. Smaller fish may also be released but there is no objection if an angler takes some of the smaller fish for personal use.
20. While letting the fish go keep your eyes on it until it disappears – after all, this is one of the greatest times while fishing!

By now you will realise that carp care as well as carp safety should form the basis of carp fishing and for that matter of any other facet of the freshwater angling sport. The use of carp-friendly equipment and proper carp care will at the end of the day ensure that the fish stays healthy, even after being removed from the water. Fish will not get sick or die but grow larger over time (when given the opportunity) to provide great joy for future generations.

This article has been published with the permission of the SA CARP SOCIETY