There is a fish swimming in Ohio waters that most Buckeye anglers call carp. although some call them buglemouths, sewer bass, or other unprintable names here.

For the most part, they have a bad reputation and to some extent they deserve it. They are prolific, often feeding on the eggs and fry of game fish, and can disturb lake waters by foraging for food in the mud. But they also have attributes, and fishermen from England, France and elsewhere have discovered these attributes, so much so that in the British Isles in particular they are the number one hunting fish, even surpassing followers of trout and salmon.

They are fished overseas with sophisticated techniques and gear, abundantly stocked in many ponds, lakes and reservoirs, and Britons who seek them always have hopes of catching very large ones, fish requiring a photo and giving the right to brag. I have to admit that most very large British carp are some of the ugliest fish I have ever seen, huge, big, pot-bellied, as big as they are long, this because a traditional technique for catching them is to spread out bottom at their fishing site with boilies (flavored dumplings), maggots, corn and other treats, then place a baited hook where the fish gobble up the free meal. it makes you fat !

Why fish them here? One of the reasons is that they are fighters, REAL fighters. I caught five-pound big mouths that I had in the boat in five minutes and five-pound carp that were just starting to get serious by then. In fact, the first big fish I ever caught was a about six pound fish hanging on the Big Scioto River that had me run along the shore with my old windmill and my braided line tested to its limits. I almost wet my seven-year-old pants before winning this trophy.

They are also plentiful, found in virtually every lake and river in the state, and are likely to haunt shallow, weed-overgrown bays and backwaters in an endless search for food. I caught them in great numbers in the marshes of Lake Erie, many more in the Charles Mill Lakes in Salt Fork and had a lot of fun catching them. On a trip I was fishing Knox Lake when I found a ripe mulberry tree on land with birds pecking and dropping fruit above and several dozen carp below picking berries out of the water. I moved in, picked up a dozen blackberries and baited an Ultralite rod with a four pound test line and berry, then threw it under the tree. I played with these fish for hours and even landed a few, a welcome change from regular fishing.

Most anglers consider carp to be inedible, but they have never eaten it. I have. Several times I caught 1 to 3 pound fish, filleted them, removed the “slime streak” that stretched mid-fillet from nose to tail, and fried them like a fish. perch or bluegill. They were as good as white bass, yellow perch, or sheep’s head, although they were not comparable to walleye or perch. They were especially tasty when I pickled some of these young fish and smoked them in my little store-bought smokehouse. Carp are slightly fatty like trout, salmon, and catfish, and they’ve proven to be wonderful when combined with a proper drink, a few friends, and a baseball game.

If you’re wondering how to get it, it’s not rocket science. I have always used a rig that consisted of two # 6 hooks about a foot apart above a one ounce sinker, and mixed it with canned sweet corn, or even nocturnal caterpillars, home grown dough balls or commercial baits. And I have often eaten my corner of fishing like the British do with canned sweet corn or even field corn. Nothing to do it. If you like group fishing, there is an organization called Carp Anglers Group (www, dedicated to catching and then releasing big carp. They now have over 4,700 members in America, Canada and Mexico, including Ohio, and hold tournaments and smaller meetings to take advantage of carp fishing weekends.

They also have a good magazine, The North American Carp Anglers Magazine, filled with tips and tactics, and its members are having a blast looking for these yellow-brown fish. They are worth joining.

Dick Martin is a retired biology professor who has been writing outdoor articles for over 30 years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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