What Does Carp Eat? [Feeding Habits of Carp]

What Does Carp Eat

Before catching carp the most common question any beginner and expert would ask is: what does carp eat? In this article you will find all you want to know!

The freshwater fish - carp is popular among seasoned anglers...

It has a characteristic fishy flavor, which is liked by many people across the world. But mostly this type of fish is caught only for enjoyment.

Carp comes in many varieties and different names are given to species found in Europe, America and Asia. Rohu is a popular type of carp mostly found in Indian waters and it is one of the most widely used fish in this part of the world.

Many people catch carp not for eating but just for recreational purpose. They use catch and release fishing tactic to catch a particular type of fish and then unhook it to return it back to the water. However, this type of practice requires skill and only experienced fishermen can do it.

Before catching carp the most common question any beginner and expert would ask is what does the fish eat. Common carp eats aggressively when the water temperature is above 18-20 degrees Celsius. This is a great news for fishermen because any fish that is fond of feeding is normally an easy catch.

However, because of its big size, this type of fish is a strong fighter on the rod and therefore gives a tough time to anglers. Grass carp feeds on vegetarian diet and hence the name "grass".

In this post, we will touch upon various topics related to carp eating habits. There is also a breakdown of bait choices for different types of carp.

So, let's get started...



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Where Does Carp Feed?

Where does carp feed largely depends on its size. It has been observed that smaller carp do not hesitate to feed on bottom but bigger ones are more cautious when it comes to choosing a feeding location.

During the winter months, carp would move to shallow depths because in these locations the water is warmer.

As a rule of thumb, remember that carp usually look for areas with greater oxygen concentration and those that are considered safer and more sheltered. If any of these conditions is short, carp would definitely move to those locations for feeding.

Big and heavy carp feed everyday; in fact, many times during a day in order to maintain their huge weight. Yet it is difficult to catch these big carp and therefore no matter where you're fishing, you will need time and patience to be able to catch carp.

Fishermen find out about the favorite bait of different species of carp by chucking out a good sized meal in the sides and then coming back later during the week to see if it has been consumed.

If you want to know how to catch carp, you will have to read the tips for carp fishing that include some basic information on the type of gear to use as well as locations where carp could be found.

What Does Carp Eat - spot

What Does Carp Eat in the Wild?

Although carp is a fighter on the hook, the good news is it eats a large variety of foods that can be used as bait. Common carp is omnivorous, which means it feeds not only on small insects and other creatures but also eats plant matter, such as algae. Since all these are natural food sources, fishermen may use just about any kind of bait ranging from boilies to groundbait made from natural or artificial ingredients.

The food items that carp favors include;

Insects including their larvae
• Fish eggs
• Water plants and their seeds
Corn and bread
• Cheese
• Berries
• Marshmellows

There are some foods that anglers not use very often but they are also popular among all species of carp. These include;

• Fresh squid
• Prawns
• Beetles
• Beans
• Cat food
• Bloodworms

So, you can imagine there are practically unlimited choices when it comes to choosing the best bait for carp.

It is usually advisable to try and experiment with different options to see which one works best under specific conditions.

How Much Food Does Carp Eat?

Carp is an aggressive eater and some anglers have reported that it would consume around 40 medium-sized boilies within a few minutes. So, yes you're going to need a lot of food especially if you're trying to catch big carp. As a general rule of thumb, remember that any fish would feed on food about 2% of its body weight. So, if a carp weighs about 10 pounds, it would need three ounces of food on a daily basis.

Some anglers are of the opinion that every carp needs about 12g of protein for every kg of their body weight. This accounts for about 40% protein in a carp's diet. They will try to fulfill this requirement by feeding on different types of foods including meat and plants. As such, most carp are omnivorous and they also adjust quickly to anything new that comes their way. For example, for a long time it had been thought that grass carp feeds only on plants but when it was given a chance to consume fish eggs and larvae, it didn't hesitate.

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What is the Best Bait to Use to Catch Carp?

Using a baited hook is the best and most effective way to catch carp. When it comes to choosing the best bait for a particular type of fish, there are hundreds of options to explore. Fishermen experiment with all kinds of choices from artificial insects and garden worms to minnows and chunks of raw fish to lure the fish they are trying to catch. Unless you're trying to catch grass carp, you can use just about anything for the bait including grasshoppers and dog food.

Here is a summary of best bait to use for different carp species:

Common carp:

Common carp would be attracted to just about anything but the best bait for this type of carp is boilies, mollusks and artificial corn. It is also recommended to add a little salt to any type of bait to make it more attractive.

Grass carp:

Grass carp would feed on vegetation most of the time but conventional bait is also used sometimes. The best options include corn and bread dough, cherry tomatoes and lime beans. Since grass carp is getting increasingly popular among anglers, many people ask how to catch BIG grass carp.

Mirror carp: 

It has been observed that mirror carp loves to feed on earthworms. But other types of bait can also be used including corn floaties and bread. Some fishermen add spices to their bait especially in the winter season to attract big carp.

Leather carp:

You can use corn as bait for any species of carp particularly leather carp as these fish simply love corn. You may also consider ready-made boilies available on the market.

Ghost carp: 

Like grass carp, ghost carp would mostly feed on vegetable matter but insects are also one of their preferred foods. Fish eggs are also something they enjoy along with crawfish and benthic worms. 

There are other types of carp as well but they also mostly prefer anything that contains protein and is tasty and sometimes salty. Different bait options are used for summer and winter months and according to the conditions.

What Does Carp Eat - worm

What are Carp Boilies?

As mentioned, most of Carp species are omnivorous and they are not picky with their food. Except at the time of spawning. So, …

Carp boilies are common bait used for carp fishing made of fishmeals, bird food, protein, flour, and other ingredients which are connected with eggs to make a hard paste that can be shaped, boiled and used as bait.

It is possible to buy carp boilies in fishing stores, but many anglers prepare them by themselves.

Some of boilies are buoyant and some are made to sink. Sinking ones work well for small carps as they feed from the bottom. Big ones, as cautious as they are, are more picky, so you can try with the ones with neutral buoyancy.

They are also made in different colors ...

Water can be clear or murky, so in accordance to that, you should pick a color. Also, it depends of the depth, the deeper the water is the darker it gets down there. Colors look a bit different underwater so have that in mind too. Most visible color underwater is pink or white. Green and blue tend to blend in the surrounding area. Yellow could work for both. There are numerous colors, even the fluorescent ones.

Carps eating habits differ in different times of the year.

During winter, sweeter boilies are better, while in summer the ones with stronger smell are advisable.

What Does Carp Eat - HomeMade Boilies

Best boilies are Homemade boilies - DIY, but HOW?

Advantages of homemade boilies are lower cost, possibility to perfection your own recipe that works the best.

Some anglers keep their recipes a secret (maybe you will also one day), but some are good enough to share it with other anglers.

They have to be hard enough to withstand soaking in the water without falling off. Sizes also vary, and you can buy from small to huge, but the advantage of making them is they can be in any imaginable size.

If they contain additives they can last a long time on room temperature, but if you make boilies yourself, you can freeze them and also have a long-lasting product.

Two ingredients that are always necessary are flour and eggs. Other ingredients are a matter of choice and depend on what taste/color do you want.

You can also use bread crumbs, brown sugar, or different kinds of flour. Also, some stores have ingredients and coloring for homemade boilies available and if you use those your boilies will be similar to the ones you buy.

Example of boilies recipe:

/// there are different brands of needed products, you can choose yourself in your local fishing store ///

• Stirr one egg in a bowl
• Pour 2,5 milliliters of base activator into it
• Add 7,5 milliliters of flavor (you can combine flavors like toffee, banana, strawberry, peach…)
• Add 1 milliliter of sweetener
• Add 1 tablespoon of coloring (as we mentioned, different colors work in murky/clear waters)
• Take 2 cups of powder mix for pop-up (buoyant) boilies and 1 cup of base mix powder and mix them
• Mix all the dry and liquid ingredients together
• Roll it, cut it, and shape into balls
• Boil for 2 minutes
• Let them dry well before use (2-3 days)

If you want completely “natural” product, you can use flour instead of powdered mixtures, vanilla/strawberry extract, food coloring powder, fish sauce or any other. Procedure to make them stays the same.

So as you see, there are different ideas available and if you use your imagination and/or experience, you can make boilies out of anything. Also, don’t overcomplicate it; few simple ingredients will do the trick.

What Does Carp Eat in Summer and Winter?

Carp becomes sluggish and inactive in the winter. This is because its metabolic rate decreases as the temperature of the water drops. As a result, it doesn't feed very actively.

However, you may still lure it using its favorite diet choosing from the best options discussed above. Corn is one option for bait that is sure to work both in summer and winter. Aquatic worms is another option you can try along with boilies, meat baits, watermelon, and peanuts.

However, different techniques are required to be able to use these bait choices to your benefit. Small insects, for example are difficult to handle.


Fishing experience can be made more enjoyable by adjusting your tactics according to the eating habits of a particular type of fish.

Many people are curious about what carp feeds on because it is considered a difficult catch especially during the winter months. However, when the conditions are good big carp would feed strongly and usually in a manner termed as "greedy" by some anglers. That gives fishermen an edge when it comes to catching carp but it also depends on the right choice of bait. This means choosing something the fish would be instantly attracted to and using it in adequate quantity.

Consider the options discussed in this post to prepare something at home that also appears to be unique and delicious. Once you know what carp likes to eat and where does it mostly feed, you are all good to go.

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