Carp are now one of the most popular targets for freshwater fishermen in the UK and carp fishing tackle is reported to be one of the biggest growth areas in the fishing tackle industry, accounting for a good share of the estimated £600 million per year in turnover, just for the UK market.
Carp fishing is therefore a significant branch of a very profitable industry and one which entices many thousands of participants out onto the riverbank or lake shore every weekend.
So where did the sport come from and how did it become so popular?
History of Carp Fishing
The first Carp introduced into the UK were thought to have been brought in by monks, who domesticated wild fish from mainland Europe and kept them in ponds on abbey grounds for food.
Access to these fish was tightly controlled and this meant only those associated with the Church had access to the soft white meat of these fish. Selective breeding was used and regular feeding employed to ensure fast growth and to promote increased meat yield, so that soon fish regularly grew well above the normal sizes obtained by native species.
This turned the normally quite small native fish from Europe into the leviathans we know today in UK waters. Over the years, escapes and transfers from breeding ponds to lakes and rivers have allowed captive populations to spread. The fact that Carp yield many hundreds of thousands of eggs per breeding cycle mean that this fast growing fish can quite quickly dominate any river or lake it inhabits with resulting effects on the native populations of fish.
If it wasn't for the fact that Carp are predominantly bottom feeding fish and therefore act as natural waste disposal machines, the introduction of Carp into UK still waters many hundreds of years ago may have spelled a death knell for native species of fish such as Rudd and Tench.
Ironically, because Carp lay so many eggs in a breeding season (maybe up to a million eggs per season for each female) this has actually allowed an extra amount of food for other fish species as a good portion of these eggs will not hatch.
Carp fishing has been a pastime enjoyed by many over the Centuries, first of all for food and then as a pleasure time pursuit. Pioneers of modern day Carp fishing like Izaak Walton (1594 - 1683) were known to fish for Carp with finely crafted split cane rods and silk lines using artificial lures and lumps of bread, something that the modern Carp fisherman can definitely relate to!
Although Izaak Walton was known for his skills as a fly fisherman for species such as Trout, Salmon and Char, Walton and his contemporaries also targeted the normally less aggressive species such as Chub and Carp, which did occasionally fall to fly fishing techniques.
Modern Carp Fishing
Modern day carp fishing employs all the latest materials and techniques available including carbon fibre rods, fluorocarbon lines and fast retrieve fixed spool reels, something the early pioneers such as Isaac Walton could only have dreamed of!
The latest carp food technologies include the use of liquid attractants and blends of carp baits which attract fish quickly and easily to the hook, all of which means it is now much easier to catch this normally wary species.