Fishing for Carp in Southern Ontario

In Asia and Europe, Carp is a much sought after fish. In North America, it is considered more of a pest than a trophy.

History and Background

Carp fishing has been targeted by fisherman for centuries. For example Isaak Walton in the Compleat Angler had a chapter on the carp, and a recipe on how to cook it!

In Europe, extremely large fish are caught: tens of pounds.

Carp has also been raised in fish farms in several countries. It was experimentally introduced for fish farms in Egypt in the 1970's, and was successful adapting to the environmnet, and growing to large sizes. My uncle raised them in a fish farm for one season, and we did fish huge ones there. Consumers did not get used to this fish though, making it a commerical failure.

In Canada

In North America, carp was introduced and stocked in rivers, so as to provide a food source for a growing population. Because of the lack of natural predators, carp has multiplied out of control in the Great Lakes ecosystem. It competes with other species for food, eats their fry, and disturbs the sediment because it is a bottom feeder.

Although some immigrants from Eastern Europe go after carp, it is not a fish that is sought by Canadians or Americans.

Some enterprising folks on the St. Lawrence waterway have established a tourism business based on carp fishing for mainly British clients.

Pictures of Carp Fishing

Here are some pictures of me fishing for carp.

This was the second time I fish for carp. This is in Belwood Lake, near Fergus, Ontario. They really fight hard, since they are a very powerful and muscular fish.
Approaching the shore, with the net ready.
Taking it out of the net!
And here it is, a 2.25 Kg, 55 cm long.
And here it is in the kitchen sink.

Eating Carp

Carp is considered a good fish to eat in many places in the world, such as South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. It is a staple in some areas, and a delicacy in others.

In North America, it is not eaten, except by some immigrants.

I have tried it myself, and the flesh does not taste very good, having a muddy dirt taste. Also, there are many small bones in the flesh, making it a hassle to eat.

I will not fish for carp to eat anymore after that. I may do catch and release only in the future.

Resources and Links



Fresh water fishing in Quebec and Ontario is the personal web site of Freshwater Phil Lumbroso, the true sport fisherman. Great fishing tips and pics available.

I fish for carp quite often, they give a great fight, but are apparently quite toxic, as they have extremely high levels of Mercury and PCBs in their flesh, especially the bigger ones. Both NY state and Ontario have high level advisories against eating carp caught in the St Lawrence River. Eastern Europeans and Asians tend to eat them more than anyone else...

Eating carp

Carps are excellent fish to eat, of course, in certain size and from certain places. Big carps (over 5 kg.) are bad for eating. So are those from shallow ponds, canals, swamps - generally all muddy, weedy, shallow waters. A carp from a clear lake or, even better, any river is an excellant fish to eat and doesn't have a muddy tast whatsoever. Eating a carp is, however, a different expirience from eating a walleye. Carps have a layer of fat under their skin and lots of bones. This is something you get used to by being born in a place where most fish are bony and fat - such as Europe or Asia.

Stefan Stojanovic, Toronto, Ontario

That is generally true. I

That is generally true. I myself don't have access (I don't have a vehicle) to any body of water where these fish are eatable, but in many lakes, according to the Ontario guides for eathing fish, they are. Therefore, I don't eat them here, but I used to back home in Europe.

I like fish

fish for carp quite often, they give a great fight, but are apparently quite toxic, as they have extremely high levels of Mercury and PCBs in their flesh, especially the bigger ones.

Where at Bellwood and what bait

Hi There . I live close to Bellwood and love carp fishing. We grew up in South Africa fresh water fishing.

Where is Bellwood area will bethe beter place to go to? And what rig an dbait will be beter?

Thank you