Should Carp In Ontario Be Considered A Sportfish?

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Ang holding a long sault carp

Today is going to be a day that you will either be for or against what I’m about to say.

“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 are rooted into the culture there, which is absolutely massive now in 2022. They have huge, world-class carp tournaments in Europe, which are equal to the biggest bass tournaments here in North America. 

CARP VS. BASS

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 simply did not 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… 

Gord Pyzer holding Bass
Gord Pyzer holding a smallmouth bass

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?

AMAZING SPECIES

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.

Ang holding a long sault carp
Angelo holding a Carp in Ontario

This means that both populations could be managed and controlled, and we could eliminate 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 currently 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!

Nik Viola

Youngest member of the Fish’n Canada crew, and grandson of Fish’n Canada co-founder, Angelo Viola.Nik has been totally immersed in the fishing culture since he first learned to walk and talk, and made his first appearance on the Fish’n Canada show at the ripe old age of nine. Fishing and the outdoors is in his DNA. His goal is to influence as many people as he can (especially kids) into experiencing life outside. He is fully committed to the notion that “any time spent in the outdoors is time well spent.”

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