By Kelton Hatch, Idaho Department of Fish & Game
To Westerners, carp are possibly one of the most overlooked fish.
Often referred to a trash fish, the common carp is one of the most sought after fish in many other parts of the world.
Ancestors of the common carp found in Idaho are from the Caspian Sea region and East Asia. It is not known exactly when carp were brought to the United States from Europe, probably the mid to late 1800s.
The typical carp's back is olive-brown to reddish brown, with the sides becoming silvery-bronze, brassy or olive-gold. The belly is yellow or yellow-white. Most carp are bronze-gold to golden yellow on the sides and yellowish white on the belly.
Most carp are heavily scaled, but two genetic mutants show either few, extremely large scales, the "mirror carp," or no scales at all, the "leather carp."
Carp are the largest member of the minnow family. Carp generally grow to about 30 inches and 10 to 15 pounds, but they can weigh up to 60 pounds.
Carp are hardy and tolerant of a wide variety of conditions but generally favor large water bodies with slow flowing or standing water and soft bottom sediments.
Adults are omnivorous. Food items include aquatic plants, algae, insect/fish larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, and even small fish. A typical feeding method is to disturb the bottom material with its snout and pick up the food items that are dislodged. Carp feeding activity in shallow waters can be easily identified because of the silt clouds that are created.
Adults uproot and destroy submerged aquatic vegetation and therefore may be detrimental to duck and native fish populations.
Common carp begin spawning in late April and continue into June over aquatic vegetation. Large females release between 100,000 to 500,000 eggs and really large females can release up to two million eggs.