Bowfishing carp can be one of the most fun experiences that you will ever have. These fish are smarter than other species, and what catches them one time won’t catch them the second time. In this guide, we will look at carp and the easiest ways to catch them.
What will you learn about bowfishing carp? This guide will teach you about the different species, the feeding habits, the places they like to hide and how to bowfish them. The goal is to help make you more successful at bowfishing carp. In this way, you can have more fun while bowfishing.
The Species of Carp
When it comes to carp, you have over 28 different species of the fish. Several of these species have been listed as invasive to the United States, which shows that American bowfishers are doing a public service when they shoot carp.
Some of the carp species within the United States include:
- Asian carp (invasive)
- Common carp (invasive)
- Grass carp (invasive)
- Silver carp (invasive)
- Bighead carp (invasive)
- Black carp (invasive)
Why are Carp Bad for the Environment?
First of all, carp have few natural predators in the United States to keep the populations down. They contribute to the environmental degradation of the basin, and the increasing spread of the carp species has led to it costing the native species and the local aquatic vegetation.
Carp like to feed off of lily pads and weeds that displaces it. In higher quantities, they can wreak havoc on the local environments. That’s why bow fishermen perform a community service when they go out bowfishing for carp. There’s no limit to how many carp you can take, and some bow fishermen have gone home with a truck full of carp in a single session.
Where to Go Bowfishing for Carp
You have some places in the water where carp like to hang out. To begin, look for places where carp like to feed. For example, you might head over to the lily pads as the grass carp like to feed on the leaves. Watch the lily pads for what seems like unnatural movement. This indicates that a fish below has bumped into the lily pad. You can do the same thing watching for carp as they bump into weeds. You might look for a tail or fin, which is what you will normally spot.
Other places to find carp include shallows where they will sometimes be found sunning themselves. In other cases, they will be hiding under trees and docks to get out of the sun and enjoy some shade. This is a good place to bowfishing carp because they will be hiding in these areas.
If you’d like to learn how to bait carp, check out this article that I previously wrote here where I went a lot more in depth on how to bait carp. Carp are omnivorous, which means that they can eat a variety of foods. While they eat aquatic plants, they prefer to eat insects at the bottom of the river bed or lake. They’re scavengers, and when you prepare a carp, you have to cut out the mud vein of the fish or they will literally taste like mud.
Some of the baits that you can use for carp include:
- Corn (they love corn)
- Tiger nuts
- Hemp seed
- Dog food
- Homemade dough baits
When you go to bait carp, the goal is to get them to associate your food with positive things. The carp will remember it for the next time, and they will associate it with positive things. Pre-baiting carp is a great technique for bowfishing carp later because you will find that you have more showing up.
When is the Best Time to Bowfish for Carp?
Normally, the best time to go bowfishing for carp is in the early spring, and they normally taste better during this time too. The carp spawning season begins March 15th to August 15th roughly. You will be more likely to see them as the water temperatures reach 62 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, you can see the carp frolicking around in the shallower parts of rivers and lakes.
How to Fish for Carp As They’re Spawning
Spawning carp are some of the easiest around to shoot. Normally, you will see the carp near the rocky shoreline, and they will be swimming near the surface, which makes them especially vulnerable to bowfishing. The cool thing about spawning carp is that sometimes you can shoot two at the same time. Look toward the surface of the water for fins in shallow water or near vegetation sometimes.
Below is an exhaustive list of all the states in the US and their season for spawning and when they spawn. Simply look up your state to figure out when the carp do spawning.
Carp Spawn Time Listing by State
Alabama – From the early spring into the mid-part of the summer, the carp will usually spawn in water at 6-foot deep.
Alaska – The carp only have a very small presence in Alaska, and as a result, it’s hard to say exactly when they spawn.
Arizona – From February to August 1st, the carp will spawn in the state, and you can normally spot them near a rocky shoreline. You will see the adults near the surface of the water during this time.
Arkansas – Usually, you will see the carp spawning from the middle part of spring until the later part of August. They’re normally near shallow water and vegetation.
California – As the California waters warm up to 73 degrees Fahrenheit, the carp will begin to spawn. While you can find them spawning at any part of the day, the later evening or in the early morning is the best time to go bowfishing for carp. Usually two to four carp will be together.
Colorado – As the water warms up to 55 degrees in Colorado, the carp begin their spawning. In Colorado, carp have an extra long spawning season that start in mid-March, and it extends itself until the beginning of October.
Connecticut – In Connecticut, the carp will spawn from early to middle part of February, and they will continue their spawning until the later part of August.
Delaware – Normally, the carp in Delaware will start to spawn at the early part of spring. You can especially catch them in some of the major river systems like the Delaware River and the Nanticoke River. Usually, the water reaches 68 degrees Fahrenheit before they start spawning.
Florida – As the water temperatures reach 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, small groups of carp will come together in the shallow waters. Usually, you will see high vegetation present near the carp spawning grounds, and you will find them here from the middle part of February up until the end of September.
Georgia – Spawning for carp usually starts during the middle part of April and continue over into June. It’s a short season, and it takes a little longer for Georgia to begin the process. For some reason, the first full moon of the year in Georgia usually kicks off carp spawning season.
Hawaii – There are no carp in Hawaii. Hence, there’s no spawning season.
Idaho – Normally, the carp in Idaho will start spawning in late April, and they will continue spawning until June.
Illinois – The spawning season for carp begins during the first week of April, and it usually dies off towards the middle part of June. Many times, you will find the carp at around 3 feet to 4 feet water when spawning here.
Indiana – From May to July, the carp spawn in Indiana in the shallow waters.
Iowa – From March until June, the carp will spawn here in the shallower waters.
Kansas – In the early spring until the late summer, the carp will spawn here. The spawning usually happens with water temperatures at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kentucky – As the water temperature reaches 62 degrees Fahrenheit from April to July, this is normally the time where the carp will spawn.
Louisiana – Beginning in the later spring and not ending until the middle part of the summer, this is when you will find the carp spawning.
Maine – The water temperature for carp spawning will be anywhere from 63 degrees Fahrenheit to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Normally, carp spawning begins here in the early spring, and it doesn’t end until the end part of the summer.
Maryland – From late April until June, you will find the carp spawning during this time period. Normally, the first will spawn in waters anywhere from one foot up to five feet, depending on the location.
Massachusetts – As soon as the water temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the carp start to spawn. Here, they like to spawn in shallow and murky waters.
Michigan – The carp start to spawn in Michigan as soon as the water temperatures reach 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Normally, from about late April until the end of August.
Minnesota – Usually, once the water temperature rises to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, the carp will start spawning here. You can usually expect this to happen at the first part of June. Take it from someone who knows—Minnesota is one cold state!
Mississippi – Asian carp, in particular, have given this state a run for its money. The problem is especially pronounced on the Mississippi river here. In Mississippi, the carp always seem to be laying eggs. However, from the middle part of spring until the middle part of August, it has become especially bad.
Missouri – Carp spawning here normally starts from March to June. In some cases, it has continued until the fall of the year. You can hunt the spawning carp near rocks and fallen logs in the water.
Montana – From the middle part of May up until the end of July with July being the peak time for carp spawning here.
Nebraska – It depends on the climate, but it usually begins at the start of April. The spawning continues until the beginning of autumn.
Nevada – Carp in Nevada usually spawn from March all the way until October. With the carp living up to 40 years here, bowfishers can shoot some old carp.
New Hampshire – The carp spawn starts in the spring, and close to shallow water and vegetation.
New Jersey – When the water temperatures reach 63 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, the carp start spawning. Normally, this happens Normally, this begins at the start of June. Look for the grassy shallows.
New Mexico – As the water temperatures hit 72 to 84 degrees, the carp start spawning. This happens in the spring and continues forward until the late summer.
New York – The water temperatures hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit as the carp start spawning. It begins anywhere from May to June, depending on the year.
North Carolina – From April until June, you will see the carp spawning in North Carolina.
North Dakota – North Dakota depends on the water temperatures, but the carp can start spawning in the late spring, and depending on how cold the water is, they will continue up until November.
Ohio – In Ohio, the carp spawn from late April up to June.
Oklahoma – The water temperatures will be anywhere from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit when the fish start to spawn. You can find them spawning at other times as well, but the peak season for their spawning goes from May until July.
Oregon – Usually around the 1st of May.
Pennsylvania – For the peak season, the carp will spawn from March to June, but it happens outside that too in smaller bursts.
Rhode Island – Late May to the middle part of September.
South Carolina – From April up until June, you can find the carp spawning.
South Dakota – From May to the last days of the summer, you will see the carp spawning here.
Tennessee – Usually in the later part of spring as the waters reach 62 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Texas – The carp in Texas will normally spawn from May up until September. The water temperatures will be anywhere from 48 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Utah – Carp spawn here during the early to late spring, and you will find them in the flooded shallows where they like to spawn the most.
Vermont – Late spring up until the end of summer.
Virginia – April up until the middle part of July.
Washington – Usually happens in April as the waters reach 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
West Virginia – Begins in the middle to later part of spring, and it ends at the beginning of the summer.
Wisconsin – Early spring until the middle part of the summer.
Wyoming – March to June
You should look at this all as a rough guide to follow for getting the carp’s spawning season. Look up your state and figure out where they might be spawning. Unlike some of the other fish like Northern pike and bass, the spawning season of the carp isn’t protected because they’re considered an invasive species of fish to the United States.
How Can I Shoot More Carp?
To shoot more carp, you should go to the areas where the carp are in the highest population. Some states like Mississippi have a massive problem with carp. Asian carp in particular are considered good eating, and you can walk away with plenty of fish. Not to mention, bowfishing is a lot of fun.
The Best Time to Bowfish for Carp
The best time to bowfish for carp will be during the spawning season in your state. Look above at the chart for further information on the spawning season in each state. That’s when you can hit the most carp, and it’s when the carp will frolic around in the shallower parts of the water, which makes them an easier target for bow fishermen. This is also the best time to bowfish for carp because of how you don’t need a boat during this time. You can shoot them right from the shore.
The first common carp was introduced to the United States in the 1880s as a game fish. They introduced it to the Midwest, and no one realized the massive negative impact that carp can have on the local environment. Especially during this time, people weren’t as conscious of how to take care of the environment.