The wild carp in Europe are considered vulnerable to extinction, but the ornamental varieties (koi fish) and where carp are an introduced species, they are thriving. They are considered edible by some cultures and in some areas, but I’ve never had a carp prepared that I could eat.
The average size carp is 40-80cm long and weighs 2-14kg. But the largest recorded carp caught in UK weighed 45.59kg (wikipedia), but from photos on Google, there have been bigger!
They prefer slow to standing water, and their diet is omnivorous (plants and meat). They tend not to eat other fish, but crustaceans, insects, and worms – they are bottom scavengers which contributes to the problems they cause in introduced waterways.
A single carp can lay put to 1,500,000 eggs in a year. But often their eggs and young fish die and are eaten in similarly large numbers. Trout eat the small ones, and where they are introduced other native fish often eat them too.
Carp have been introduced widely throughout the world. Their behaviour of feeding from the bottom (sucking mud) has altered waterways, damaged native environments and effected native fish and duck populations.
In Australia, we love to hate them. They have been declared a noxious species, and if they it is illegal to return them to the water. They are so full of mud here that they are not worth eating. They stink, and we love turning them into food for other fish.
They are often left on the bank, alive, to slowly die (they have been known to survive for days out of water). This is not humane. Often you will see carp carcasses are often seen speared on trees or strung up to keep them out of reach of pet and feral dogs. But the best way to dispose of carp, like we do, is to kill them and cut them up and put them back in the water for others to feed on.
Apparently, they are a popular fish to catch by anglers in Europe. In Australia, we say we hate to catch carp. But they do give a good fight on light gear, and they sneak into snags so it takes some skill to get them up. Here they are also pretty easy to catch. They will always go from a worm – so a simple rig with a worm on a hook and a sinker to take it to the mud will work every time.
All those carp lovers, please come to Australia and fish to your heart’s content. We also have Carp Outs, Carp Culls, Carp Musters, and other fishing events to get rid of carp.