I recently did a video about the invasive silver and bighead Asian carp in which I covered the topics of the massive ecological damage these fish are causing as well as why these highly destructive and hated fish are also two of the most delicious and nutritious fish on the planet…even when caught from not so healthy bodies of water. In this blog and video, we’ll have a look at the most common ways to catch these fish…which may surprise you!
The invasive silver and bighead Asian carp are filter feeders who eat microscopic plankton, which is one of the reasons they stay incredibly clean and healthy even in not-so-clean and healthy bodies of water. But, this is also the reason that they generally can’t be caught all that effectively using traditional rod and reel methods, such as using live or prepared baits or artificial lures. There are, however, several highly productive alternative fishing methods for harvesting these fish. I’ll be going into much more detail on these methods in future blogs and videos, but here’s a quick overview…
Method #1 – The Boat & Net Method
The most common way that people catch Asian carp is actually by accident. As has been showcased on news reports and countless YouTube videos, the jumping Asian carp leap out of the water in great numbers when startled by boats that pass over them. It’s not uncommon for recreational boaters to end up with many Asian carp on the deck of their boat after zooming over a school of them. Now, there’s nothing too complicated about this method of harvest. It’s simply a matter of heading out for a cruise on the Asian carp-infested waters of your choice. You’ll know good and well when you’ve located the fish, as they’ll jump out of the water all around you. After the fish are good and agitated and leaping everywhere, it’s simply a matter of letting them jump in your boat or catching them out of the air with a big dip net.
Method #2 – Alternative Rod & Reel Methods
As I mentioned, since the silver and bighead species of Asian carp are filter feeders, catching them with traditional rod and reel methods is generally not all that effective. Now, there are some exceptions to this though, such as snagging Asian carp with big heavy jigs and spoons or more traditional snagging gear such as what’s commonly used for catching paddlefish. There are also some effective methods used for catching Asian carp on a fly rod that are similar to the techniques that fishermen use in Alaska for catching sockeye salmon. Along with using snagging methods, there is Asian carp specialty gear on the market that’s designed to help you to catch these fish in a more traditional manner, but personally, I’ve yet to see such items used all that effectively.
Method #3 – Bowfishing
One of the most popular methods of harvesting invasive silver and bighead Asian carp is bowfishing. In recent years, since the Asian carp population explosion, bowfishing has become wildly popular. It’s challenging, very effective, and it’s an absolute blast. Bowfishing can be done from a boat, from a canoe or kayak, or on foot stalking the shorelines.
Method #4 – Gigging
A similar method to bowfishing, and even more exacting, is that of gigging Asian carp. Like bowfishing, the gigger stalks the shorelines or floats along quietly in a vessel of one kind or another to make a stealthy approach. Gigging is generally limited to very shallow water or in an isolated area where the carp are right under the surface within gigging range.
So that’s a quick overview of four ways to harvest silver and bighead Asian carp. Again, I’ll be making more blogs and videos in the future about the specifics of each of these methods as well as videos about how to process and cook these fish, so stay tuned. If you’d like to learn more about the Asian carp, check out the book Eat the Enemy…a complete guide to catching and cooking Asian carp. Check out the video below to see more.
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Asian Carp Video and Image Credits:
Carp illustration images used under managed rights from © Joseph R. Tomelleri.
Asian carp video footage courtesy of Great Lakes Fishery Commission