Unlike in trout fish, carp fishing rarely relies on matching the hatch yet it’s not often that a carp finds a boilie or pile of sweet corn if someone has not put it there, so the majority of food a carp eats are actually things that are living there already. With this in mind, it is worth considering a few things. Carp are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and animals, and which also means that what they feed on in one water will not necessarily be what they will be feeding on some place else. While what they are feeding on does vary by location, not all food items are created equal in a carp eyes. Bloodworms (the larvae of midges) are at the top of the list on a carps menu, and while carp have been shown to have a strong preference for them, there are a host of other items that they will eat. This is also size dependent; there is little overlap between the diets of small and large carp – something that may help you to select the better fish. Here is a pictorial list (in no particular order) of some of the things that carp like to eat:

Scuds

Gammarus_roeselii

Zebra Mussels

Dreissena_polymorpha3Moule_zébrée_Lambersart

Midge Larva

UIRW-003 Chaoborus_sp._pupa,_Netherlands 220px-Chironomus_plumosus01

 

Aquatic plants (Macrophytes) and Detritus (dead particulate organic material)

science.kennesaw.edu

Fresh water clams (Corbicula)

2015_0823_12194900 2015_0823_12164500

Crayfish

FloridaFlusskrebs Orconectes_limosus_-_Kamberkrebs

Snails

 

So, how to use this to your advantage? Often times what the carp are feeding on is really not that important as they will happily eat your bait regardless. However, there are certain places and times when “matching the hatch” is important if you want to catch the biggest fish or at times, any fish. A option to consider is alternative techniques (See Iain Sorrell’s post) that incorporate the natural food item or some artificial look-a-like.

CarpPlasticsTran

Some baits designed for Black Bass may be just the thing for stalking large carp.

Another is to use a bait that is designed to smell like, and even better be made out of, the real thing. There are are number of baits available that are designed with this in mind. Bloodworm, crayfish, mussel, and worm flavors and extracts are all available.

Blood worms are a natural food, and some bait companies have made baits to take advantage of this, incorporating real blood worms into the bait.

When you are on the bank keep in mind what the carp might be feeding on (in between your bait) and it might help you to put an extra fish on the mat.

 

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