Here’s your step-by-step guide to handling big carp. Originally written by Mark Lambert for anglers fishing Villefond, it’s worth a read if you’re targeting those french carp.
Firstly don’t panic, once the fish is hooked it shouldn’t come off so relax and play the fish. Very large carp won’t be bullied, you will just end up pulling the hook out or snapping the line, so relax, keep a steady pressure on the fish and let it run when it wants, don’t try to rush it into the net.If you rush it too much the carp will still have lots of fight when on the bank and make your life harder, in turn making it more likely for the fish to hurt itself.
Once in the net hold the fish in the water away from the bank and any branches or rocks that it could hurt itself on if it flaps around. Hold the fish there for a few moments. Imagine if you had just run around and then some one held your head under water. It’s only he same for the fish so give it a few moments to recover before you take it from the water.
Ideally you want to bring the weight sling to the fish but if fishing alone this can be difficult so you might have to lift it in the net. To do this safely take the net off the pole and roll it up so it’s secure to lift. But before you lift check there is no pressure on the line or hook in the mouth of the carp and check all fins are tucked the correct way tight to the body of the carp.
Lift it from the water, ideal if there are two people to make life easier. Do not lift the fish to far of the ground in case you slip, a fall for a large carp will cause death if it’s from any height. Have the unhooking mat close and lift the carp to it. As you place the carp down again check it’s fins are safely out the way before you rest the carp down, a fin the wrong way can break or hurt the carp under its own weight.
Now it’s in the mat first thing is to remove the net. If the fish flapped, the hard bars in the net could damage it so lift the carp slightly always watching the fins and slide the net out from under it. Now if you weren’t able to lift the carp from the water with the weight sling it helps to already have the sling over the unhooking mat so you don’t have to slide it under the carp, meaning you can lift the carp straight onto the weighing scales to check the size of your capture.
Weighing the carp, again never lift the carp high of the ground, just far enough to get its accurate weight. A tripod is ideal for this.
Then you can return the carp to the mat for photos. Always keep the fish secured if you need to walk away from it, to setup the camera for example. Cover it’s eyes so it doesn’t startle and make sure it’s secure so it can’t flip over and hurt itself or break a fin.
Always keep the fish wet, if you see white mucus forming on the fish it means the slime is drying out and you are not keeping it wet enough. If you have played the fish slowly, you will have tired it out in the water and it shouldn’t flap around on the bank so don’t worry that pouring water on it will cause it to liven up, it won’t, keep the fish wet.
Never stand with the fish for photos! One mistakes and the fish can slide from you grip and a fall from that height would kill a large carp. Lift the carp for the photos above the mat and enjoy the moment with your Villefond monster.
Place the carp carefully back into the weigh sling, zip it up so it can’t slip out and return it to the lake carefully.
Hope these tips help you to feel confident in handling our really big carp, any questions please ask us.
6 thoughts on “How-To… Handle Big Carp”
I would like to have seen another paragraph about carp medication to aid a quick recovery from any possibly scrratches, not necessarily angler caused.
Personally I always have a tissue, Ulcer Swab liquid, a Wound Seal from NT Labs and Propolis from the chemist to hand at all times.
Any treatment undertaken I do after picturing the fish so as to prevent wiping anything away which may have been applied.
Cuts and open sores I carefully dab dry with a kitchen tissue and then apply a the Ulcer Swab liquid. This is then followed by a coating of the wound seal to keep the first treatment in place. This takes a short while to set so I then seal the hook hole with a drop of Propolis.
Job done and the fish is returned with medication to speed up any natural healing ready for the next lucky angler.
There is no mention of the hook being removed.
This is important, as it does need removing as soon as possible to reduce injury to the carps mouth. If the hook gets caught in the net and the fish flaps you can get some terrible mouth damage.
I agree with Shaun, some form of wound seal or healer should always be with the mat along with a pair of forceps for a stubborn hook.
I would also add a decent pair of wire cutters will save damage once in a while as well. I always carry a set and fortunately don’t need to use them very often but they are sometimes called upon to snip the eye off a hook and pass the hook through rather than try and extract it the way it went in. Particularly when a double hook hold occurs or when cleanly hooked in and out.
Nice post and advice Mark
I agree that I see (and lake owners tell me) many anglers get into a panic when playing a large carp, especially if it’s their first “big one”, and try to bully the fish into the net. Take more time than you normally would, take a few deep breaths and GENTLY play the fish in. I often find playing a fish gently results in them coming in quicker.
I would also add that I think it’s a good idea to keep a spare wet cloth to hand which you can use to cover the eyes of the carp once its in your cradle/unhooking mat as this keeps the sun out of their eyes and will stop them flapping around too much.
As it said at the top this was written for our lake and helping people with how to handle big carp, I assume they have experience handling carp and know they need to remove the hook. Using clinic or having foreceps and wirecutters are not rules on our lake so haven’t been included but it’s interesting to know your thoughts.
Thanks i think I did mention to cover it’s eyes in there but normally use the weight sling or the unhooking mats we use have a top to hold the carp still, I use that aswell.