Should Carp In Ontario Be Considered A Sportfish?

Today is going to be a day that you will either be for or against what I’m about to say. Are you ready? “Carp in Ontario should be considered a sportfish”. This is a firm belief of mine, ever since the first Fish’n Canada Carp Cup that we hosted. Carp fishing has been something that really gets hold of my attention. It makes me think about why it isn’t recognized as a game fish, or I should say, why it isn’t recognized here as a game fish.

Now, I know that the biggest arguments to this idea are because carp are invasive and are destroying the ecosystems. Well, I hate to break it to you, but that is on us. Somehow, someway, we as humans let carp into our waters. Right, wrong, or indifferent, we now need to be responsible for our mess. But this doesn’t mean that our mistake has to end in violent means. We don’t have to “eradicate” them.

See, if we look at carp worldwide, they are one of the top game fish in the UK and in Europe. Why is that you might say? This is because they are abundant, great fighters and an enjoyable fish to catch. In Europe, they have been farming and fishing for carp since the Medieval Age. This means that carp rooted a culture there, which is absolutely massive now in 2019. They have huge carp tournaments in Europe, which are equal to the biggest bass tournaments here in North America. 


Oh and speaking of bass, British Columbia has a strong growing bass population, and only a select few fish them. If you told your fishing friends that just across the country bass are regarded as a bad fish, they wouldn’t believe you. Because it seems like bass, here at least, are THE FISH. What would happen if an angler from B.C. told a bass fisherman here that bass are a crappy fish? The bass angler would pull every source of media they could find to prove that B.C. angler wrong.

But go back 25 years ago, and bass were in a bad place here (well, a good place for the bass). People didn’t want to fish for them. I have been talking to my Grandfather and Pete, and they both told me that even 10 years ago bass really weren’t on the map. Ol’ Grandpa even told me that Panfish were more sought after than bass. Look at it now though… 

The same principles apply to Carp.

The anglers I met in Italy were all stunned at the fact that carp are considered a pest in Ontario. They were genuinely shocked by the statement; that they are one of the least sought after in the nation.

So, to draw some comparisons:

If you took where carp is (in Ontario) today and compared it to where bass were (in Canada) about 10-25 years ago, you would be drawing some very close similarities. 

And if you want even more proof that carp and bass are similar in their standings, take B.C. bass and toss it up to Ontario carp. Do you see where I’m going with this?


What I am getting at is that just because something came in by other means, rather than nature, it doesn’t mean we need to take it out or exile it. In B.C, only a small group fish for bass, and here only a small group fish for carp. If more anglers across the country opened their eyes just a little bit, they could see all the great fishing they are missing. Then other anglers would join them, and over time lose the need to shun these two amazing species.

This means that both populations could then be managed and controlled, eliminating any damage both species could be doing to the ecosystems. The populations would become much more stable than they are now. Also, more people would eat the fish. In doing that, we would be turning a fish, such as a carp (that is being shot with an arrow and tossed aside), into a viable source of food for people who need it. But we can only start this usage of carp if we turn it into an actual game fish, with an open and close season, and with some rules and regulations.


Can you reasonably tell me why we should not allow carp into our angling experiences, allowing it to become a sportfish? Please tell me in the comments below, I would love to talk about it!

32 Responses

  1. Absolutely Yes!
    I recently discovered Carp fishing and I have been fishing for over 40 years and I can truly say I now have the bug! Hooking a 25+ plus pound fish like this is a real thrill. I love the whole culture around it and the technical aspect of the way we fish them, its a more relaxed atmosphere that quickly goes from 0 to 100! I think they are really cute and love their awkwardness! I dont see them as a pest or invasive, people who think that are ignorant really. I think Canada is a true untapped resource and we may in fact hold the most and best carp fishing actually! Ironic no? It seems to be catching on and thats great!
    Good for you guys on promoting the sport!

  2. Great read Nikky my man.

    One of the biggest issues I have here is the attitude of the “almighty redneck”. As an example, grandpa Angelo and I heard years ago that certain BC trout anglers held to occasional Bass derby in order to have a bit of a self sanctioned cull. EVERY Largemouth and or Smallmouth was brought in the to derby headquarters and killed upon arrival. I $#!* you not!!! At least that’s what we were told.

    As well, it’s tough to swallow the fact that people lover fertilizing their gardens with Carp carcasses… guess they can’t afford a shot of 30-0-3.

    I have always loved catching Bass and through time, practical experience and common sense, I love catching Carp.

    Fish on buddy!

  3. Carping and canoodling ! Two things most curmudgeon are prolific at during certain times of their lives and Anglers are no different. As they say, “there are two sides to every coin”.

    Carp inspire very different passions around the world. In America and Australia, these fish are generally regarded as pests – excessively fertile, disgustingly greedy and guilty of degrading the aquatic habitat. On the flip side in Europe however, Carp are highly sought after and everything is done to increase their numbers and preserve them from the slightest harm.

    Heather, Herman, Sally, Eric….yes Carp in Britain are recognized as individuals and given their own names! This may seem ridiculous in America, but it is not difficult to understand how the British and other Europeans feel. Carp are large and hard fighting. Above all they are clever fish and it is doubtful whether any other species is so quick to learn.

    You can watch a an “educated” Carp testing the water around the bait with it’s fins to feel if their is a line. A Carp can pick up a bait, roll it around in it’s mouth and reject it if it feels the hook; this can happen without the Angler knowing anything about it.

    All types of Carp have acute eyesight, hearing and sense of smell. They a tenacious of life and can survive pools that have almost completely dried out or are heavily frozen. When introduced to a different location, Carp always adapt well to new conditions and spawn prolifically. This explains their success as colonizers.

    Long story short as Nik has stated, Carp are not going anywhere, ever! Since we created the this so called mess/problem it would best if we all went with the flow and allowed Mother Nature deal with our hyper schematics.

    In fact, Carp fishing can be approached in quite similar fashion to any other type of North American sport fishing. Floating bait on the surface, dragging bottom or employing the old time worn float fishing technique will result in enticing these monsters.

    Here are few examples :

    Carp are happy to take food from the surface and they will suck in fluttering moths or any struggling insect from the surface film. Floating baits were once straight forward – commonly bread cut into match box sized pieces. These days Anglers bake bread especially for the purpose, often putting in scents that are attractive to Carp. Commercial dry foods for dogs and cats are also important floating baits today. They come in hard form and require a quick steaming to make them soft enough to bait the hook.

    For bottom fishing many Anglers uses a “bolt rig” in which a leger sinks the bait and gives weight and distance to the cast. and a short length of slack line. When a Carp takes the bait, it suspects nothing since there is no tension in the slack line. The fish swims away but soon panics when it feels the tension, hooking itself in the process.

    Note : Baits floating on the water surface are often rejected and there is always a risk that a bottom fished bait may sink into a tangle of roots and be ignored. However, a bait just touching the bottom under a float is a different position altogether and it is frequently taken. Float fishing is a strategy that most Anglers find both fun and very efficient.

    A “Driftbeater Float” ( or Insert Waggler ) to stalk a Carp around the margins and cast to them with great precision. You can put the bait exactly in the Carp’s path and your float will register bites instantly. Whatever type of float you are using a tiny split shot placed a tiny way up from the float will sink the line in a ripple and improve your control.

    Sometimes it has been found that Carp can show suspicion of a float lying on the water.At times like this, Anglers find that changing from a regular float to an ordinary twig or even a feather can prove to be the answer.

    Naturally, the Carp versus Bass analysis is correct as Nik has set out in his blog. Carp are no different in their sport fishing worthiness than Bass or for that matter any other fish Anglers set their sights upon. Suffice to say, you do not have to drain your bank account to land the fish of a life time. Common ever day stuff you already have in your in your tackle boxes will likely do the trick.

    So what do you say? Heather, Herman, Sally, Eric and the gang are waiting and willing to get in on the action.

  4. I couldn’t agree more, Calvin has said it all. All I would add is the financial benefit that carp fishing has to offer in the way of tourism and international events providing that a two rod run is in stated to fall in line with Europe and most other countries. Yes. Carp should have a “game fish” status the same as bass, trout, walleye etc, etc, etc. GET ‘EM DONE!

  5. I don’t think that carp deserve game fish status. Other than sheer weight they have no more fight the hooking onto a large branch or small log. As to table fair,I did hear of an old recipe about 60 years ago. Stuff the fish with pieces of 2×4, bake in an over for 4 hours, throw away the fish and eat the lumber.

    1. Although I love your recipe Steve, I have to disagree with you on the fighting ability of Carp. Not too sure as to where you’re catching your Carp that fight like a branch or log but the ones we catch will out-pull a comparable sized fish like a etc. all day long

    2. Carp! If they are prepared and cooked right they can be delicious. Here are a few tasty recipes to try if you are up to it :

      Deep-fat Frying
      Dip scored carp pieces into a batter, place in the hot oil and cook until they are a crisp, deep golden brown. For a variation on your usual cornmeal batter, try dipping the fish in a milk, egg, salt and pancake flour mixture.

      Carp can be baked whole or in pieces, but it should be basted occasionally with something such as lemon butter. A four-pound, scored carp will take about 45 minutes to cook in a 350-degree oven. Several strips of bacon laid over the fish will eliminate the need for basting. A whole fish can be baked with the following stuffing:

      4 cups bread crumbs
      3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
      3/4 cup finely cut celery
      6 tablespoons melted butter
      3/4 teaspoon salt
      1/8 teaspoon pepper
      1 teaspoon sage
      Cook celery and onion for a few minutes in the butter. Mix the other ingredients and add them to the butter mixture. Wipe dressed fish with damp cloth and salt lightly inside and out. Stuff with dressing and sew or tie with string to retain stuffing. Place in preheated oven and bake at 375 degrees for one hour.

      Additional Recipes
      Serbian Carp
      2 pounds carp
      1/4 pound butter
      2 finely chopped onions
      3 tablespoons tomato paste
      1/4 pound chopped mushrooms
      Red pepper
      Roll carp in flour seasoned with salt and red pepper. Sear in butter. After removing carp, saute’ onions and mushrooms. Add tomato paste and a little water. Put carp in and stew until well done.

      Carp Cakes
      1 cup flaked, cooked carp
      3 cups mashed potatoes
      1 egg, beaten
      2 tablespoons bacon grease
      1/2 tablespoon butter
      1/2 teaspoon pepper
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/8 teaspoon paprika
      Mix carp, potatoes, bacon grease, butter, salt, pepper and paprika; then add beaten egg, Shape into cakes and pan fry in hot grease until a golden brown.

      Carp Stew
      4 pounds carp
      1/4 pound bacon
      1/4 cup onion, chopped
      1 cup tomatoes
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon sugar
      Fry bacon in a dutch oven or small kettle until crisp. Add other ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

      Carp in Beer
      2 pounds carp
      2 12-oz. cans dark beer
      1 medium onion
      1 stalk celery, chopped
      1 bay leaf
      1/2 teaspoon thyme
      1 teaspoon salt
      1 sprig parsley
      1/4 pound butter
      1/2 cup gingerbread crumbs
      Mince onion, add celery, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, beer and salt. Bring to a boil. Cut carp into pieces and place in the sauce. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes on low fire. Remove carp from sauce and thicken sauce with gingerbread crumbs. Strain sauce and stir in butter. The sauce must be creamy and hot; pour it over the carp

      Carp Chowder 1
      2 pounds carp
      2 stalks chopped celery
      1/4 cup butter
      1/4 cup flour
      Chopped onions
      Dash of thyme
      Simmer carp, onions, celery, thyme, salt and pepper slowly in water for 30 minutes. Thicken with a mixture of butter and flour.

      Carp Chowder 2
      For this recipe, fish needs to be pre-cooked, chilled and then separated from the bones.

      1 cup flaked cooked carp
      1 tablespoon chopped parsley
      1 cup diced cooked potatoes
      1 tablespoon shortening
      1 tablespoon flour
      2 cups milk
      Salt and pepper
      Cook the onion and parsley in the fat until tender, add flour, then the milk, gradually stirring until slightly thick. Add fish and potatoes and heat through.

      Pickled Carp
      Scoring is not necessary for this recipe, because the vinegar breaks down the bones. Cut fish into chunks small enough to fit in canning jars and soak them overnight in a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Drain and put pieces in a boiling solution of 3 cups vinegar to 1 cup water. Add spices to taste such as cloves, allspice, mustard seed, salt and pepper. Add lemon slices and boil until the fish is done. Place pieces in sterilized jars, cover with sliced onions, add the boiling liquid and seal the jars.

      Bon Appetite !

  6. Right off the bat I will say that I have caught a number of carp and yes, they can be fun to catch. They are a big, hard pulling fish and who doesn’t like that.

    But let’s be clear, they are an invasive specie. Their presence in any waterbody has a direct impact on native fish and where it is feasible they should be removed or dealt with accordingly. Of course it isn’t feasible to remove them from Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence, etc., so carp will be here to stay in many places.

    I really wish anglers across the country would do everything they can to preserve our native species. It is never okay to move a fish from one water body to another, dump left over minnows in a lake, or willing destroy a native specie when caught incidentally.

    Far too many of our countries native trout lakes have been ruined by the introductions of perch, bass, pike, etc.

    I would also really hope that the hosts behind FishnCanada would use their voice to be an ambassador of the importance of native species, and really showcase the good work being done around the country to protect what we have. Its been difficult at times to see them promoting fisheries at direct odds against the attempted restoration of native species.

    1. Cant say I like the look of the Carp but the recipies sure make my mouth water especially the one thats Carp and Beer mmm oh was that Carp in Beer oh well either way sounds good to me.

  7. Besides farming carp and then fishing for them, what use are they? Yes, many places (after many years of dealing with them) revere catching carp. is that not a reflection of how the water bodies have been deteriorated? You can not “manage” carp or other species once they have been introduced! As mentioned by others , i do wish Humans would stop introducing invasive species into other areas

  8. Why not !! Fishing is about reeling in the big ones , isn’t it ?! Would personally love to catch one , as we have them in our waters too ; Saskatchewan.It’s better to catch something , than nothing at all . After all it’s FISHING , and it’s a sport .

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