One of the best times to go after the carp is right around their spawning season. Unlike other fish like bass and northern pike, carp receive no protection in their spawning grounds since this invasive species damages our aquatic wildlife and displaces native fish populations. You can spot carp spawning grounds because they will splash wildly in 2 to 3-foot water. They become a problem because a single female carp can produce up to one million eggs. When do the carp spawn?
When the carp spawn will vary depending on the region, but their peak spawning season happens from late April to the middle part of June. You can see them spawning in sessions from March to August with their spawning being less frequent in the period from June to August.
Carp Spawning Season
The best time to target carp for spawning is in the spring of the year from April to June, and you see many bowfishermen take to the waters around this time. Bowfishing season—though the season is year-round—is usually thought to kick off around carp spawning season, and local governments encourage people to take the carp since they can quickly overrun our waters if we don’t cull their populations.
When they spawn depends on the water temperature, but carp like to spawn in water from 64 to 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Below, we have put together a table on the states and carp spawning season for each state since it varies based on the state. Check this table for the most specific state information since we highlight the above as a general rule:
|State||Peak Carp Spawning Spawning Season|
|Alabama||Early March to late August|
|Alaska||April to June|
|Arizona||Mid March to early April|
|Arkansas||April to late August|
|California||April to late June|
|Colorado||April to early July|
|Connecticut||April to late June|
|Delaware||April to late June|
|Florida||Early May through September|
|Georgia||April to June|
|Idaho||Late April to mid-June|
|Illinois||Mid-April through June|
|Indiana||May to July|
|Iowa||March to June|
|Kansas||March to late August|
|Kentucky||Mid-April to July|
|Louisiana||April to July|
|Maine||March to early June|
|Maryland||Late April to mid-June|
|Massachusetts||March to June|
|Michigan||Late April to August|
|Minnesota||April to September|
|Mississippi||April to mid-August|
|Missouri||March to June|
|Montana||Mid-May to July|
|Nebraska||April through October|
|Nevada||March to October|
|New Hampshire||April to June|
|New Jersey||First two weeks in June|
|New York||May to June|
|New Mexico||March to August|
|North Carolina||April to June|
|North Dakota||June to August|
|Ohio||Late April to June|
|Oklahoma||May to July|
|Oregon||May to July|
|Pennsylvania||Late April to June|
|Rhode Island||Late May to August|
|South Carolina||April to June|
|South Dakota||April to August|
|Tennessee||Mid-April to the end of May|
|Texas||March to September|
|Utah||March to June|
|Vermont||May to August|
|Virginia||April or May up to July|
|Washington||April to July|
|West Virginia||April or May to Late June|
|Wisconsin||March to July|
|Wyoming||March to June|
When Do Carp Spawn?
When the carp spawn will heavily depend on the water temperatures, so we would look at the above list as more of a guideline to follow for each state. The fish spawn at specific water temperatures because once the water reaches a certain temperature, the eggs will develop more quickly in warmer water.
The water also needs to remain at a consistent temperature, and they don’t typically spawn when the temperatures over fluctuate.
Carp will often spawn after it rains and the water levels rise. Usually, the carp will spawn three to four times each year with its peak being from May to June.
What Time Do the Carp Spawn During the Day?
The best time to catch the carp spawning is either in the early morning hours before sunrise or the time right before the sun sets. If you try to catch them on bait, good luck. Carp are finicky and smart fish to begin with, but they have almost no appetite for food when spawning. You can catch them right before they start spawning, however, since they will be extra hungry.
I would recommend bowfishing the carp while they spawn. Instead of letting them spawn, you can shoot them to make them take your arrow bait. You perform a public service for the environment when you shoot them since carp are considered an invasive nuisance to all US waters. To put it into perspective, it’s illegal to release them back into the water catching them. It’s also a lot of fun to hit them with arrows and reel them in.
If you don’t have a bowfishing bow, I wrote an article here about the best bowfishing bows.
How Do Carp Spawn?
The carp will spawn in between 2 and 3 feet of water. To find them, head to the grassy shallows around the spawning season. You will see the carp gathered in groups. Unlike other species, the females lay the eggs and the carp fertilize them externally. For that reason, one female may have five or six males next to it fertilizing the eggs.
The carp nudges the female to encourage the release of the eggs. You can often hear frantic splashes in the water as the carp spawn, which makes them easy to spot. Things required for carp spawning include:
- Oxygen in the water
- Sunny day
Another way that you can spot carp spawning is that they will kick up a lot of mud in the water to make it harder to see. The water looks dirty from all the activity. Carp are bottom feeders to begin with and will stir up mud and sediment on the lake or riverbed to begin with, but it becomes increased when they spawn.
Check out this video of carp spawning to see what it looks like when they spawn:
Do Carp Feed When Spawning?
During the spawn, carp won’t feed since they won’t have much interest in food. That can make angling for them more difficult. Right before they start to spawn, they will feed like crazy. We would recommend bowfishing when they’re spawning.
The female carp won’t feed at all, and you will struggle to put one on your line until after they have released all their eggs. You can occasionally hook a male carp on his way to the spawning grounds, but even that can prove difficult.
Any carp that you reel in may have a few injuries on them such as missing scales and torn fins. They get excited and rough during their spawning time.
When Do the Carp Spawn in the UK?
The carp will spawn in the UK from March to June. Keep in mind that the laws in the UK differ from those in the United States to where you can’t disturb them while spawning since carp are protected. Technically, the carp in the UK aren’t native either, and they brought them over to the UK in the Middle Ages.
When they will spawn depends on the water temperature and the availability of food.
What Water Temp Do the Carp Spawn?
Carp will spawn in water temperatures of anywhere from 64 to 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The biggest factor for when the carp spawn will depend on water temperature. You have times where they should spawn at a specific time outlined above, but because the water temperature remains cold, they haven’t spawned. In some cases, the right water temperature doesn’t occur until after the supposed season ended.
What to Know About Carp Spawning Behavior
You will usually see five to six males for each female present. Their presence gets her to release her eggs that they then fertilize. Once the carp start spawn, you won’t have much doubt about it happening—it’s pretty obvious. You will see the fish bump into each other, and you’ll see them gathered closely. That gives you your telltale sign that the carp have begun to spawn.
Beware of the intelligence of carp since this fish has more intelligence than the average fish. They can sense movement, which means you must exercise caution. On top of that, they will come rushing through panicked and alert all the other fish. Carp emit pheromones when they panic so that the other fish know about a possible predator too.
Related Article: How to Fillet a Carp
How Long Do Carp Spawn For?
Once the carp start to spawn, it will usually last for seven to 14 days. They spawn throughout the year three to four times, and if you miss one spawning session, you can always get in on the next one. Water that remains warm may see carp spawn all the way through to September. In most cases, the carp will spawn after the largemouth bass have spawned. Many times, you will see them spawn right around the same time as the bluegill. Most bass will be done spawning by the time the carp have begun their spawning sessions.
How to Catch Spawning Carp
The best way to catch spawning carp would be if you were to bowfish since they will have little appetite for food. You won’t have an easy time forcing them to eat during a spawn. Instead, bowfishing them offers the chance at forcing them to eat your bait. Many bowfishermen love to go out and shoot some carp, especially during their spawning season.
Expert Tip: Many fish are protected during their spawning season, but carp are invasive and the US government even encourages that people take as many carp as possible to keep them from overrunning our lakes and rivers. Check your local laws, but in most places, they are not protected when spawning.
Otherwise, your best bet at angling them is to catch a male carp on his way to the spawning ground. You can often spot them because they will seem lazy compared to the carp already at the spawn. The activity will be much lower. Don’t bother with female carp since they will have no appetite for eating. You can spot the females because their bellies will bulge with eggs.
You won’t catch the fish actively spawning since their attention will be on other things.
Do Carp Die After Spawning?
You may have heard of the salmon and how they die after making the long trip to their original breeding grounds and spawning. Carp rarely die after spawning, but they will be weaker after. During this time, the algae and the changes in the water and its oxygen can kill carp because of them having less resilience than before. However, it has little to do with them dying after they have spawned.
The environmental factors will play a larger role in this than them simply dying from spawning.
When carp spawn, you will know it because you will see a bunch of them in the water together and splashing around. We are encouraged to go after the carp during this time to keep them from overrunning our waters and displacing native fish populations. Carp were first introduced to the United States in the 1880s, and they have quickly spread throughout our waters, but they require culling to keep from overpowering our waters.
If you enjoyed this article and wonder what to do with dead carp, I wrote an article here on that topic.