Anglers see them in most waters they fish but few know how to target these monsters. Carp offer anglers a challenge much different than most other species. Carp species are part of the minnow family, native to Asia, and can grow to well over 20lbs. They are found in deep pools and eddies in large rivers and in brackish bays and coves in lakes. Bottom feeders by trade, carp are mostly opportunistic omnivores that feed on clams, snails and aquatic insects. Commonly groups of carp will feed "cow style" grazing the bottom giving the angler an advantage by being able to spot feeding fish.
Carp fishing has regained popularity over the last few years. The thrill of landing a large carp has anglers specifically targeting these species rather than just landing the occasional mistake catch. Three factors go into successfully catching carp.
The most important aspect of any type of fishing is location. Fish have to be in the water you are fishing. It is difficult to catch a carp in a waterway that has no carp in it. Small scale, target areas within waters where carp typically forage. Look for active "grazing" in brackish waters. Concentrate on gravel bars and deeper pools in moving water. In Pennsylvania try lakes such as Raystown Lake, Lake Marburg, Shawnee Lake and rivers such as the North Branch of the Susquehanna River and Monongahela River.
The staple baits for carp anglers are bread, corn, worms or maggots. If you find the fish, most carp will take one of these baits. Chumming, feeding fish to build their interest, can be a great method to attract carp and get them feeding on what you are throwing. Chumming has its disadvantages. Most areas that hold carp also hold other fish species. Chumming and using the tried and true baits can bring feeding competition and you may spend most of your day releasing sunfish or other species instead of landing monster carp.
Just like baits, rigs have endless permutations and differences to help give you more chance of hooking a carp. A three-way rig with swivel, sinker and single hook is a great way to start fishing for carp. Tie the piece of line that the sinker will be attached to with lighter line, so that if you snag the bottom, you don’t lose your whole rig. This rig fishes well in all water types but the length of the sinker line should be modified based on the type of water you are fishing.