Common Carp


34-inch common carp caught in Central Minnesota on a bass jig!

Abundant in many Minnesota lakes and rivers, the common carp is an invasive species, and generally considered to be undesirable.  A large member of the minnow family, the carp is native to Asia and has spread across Europe where it is esteemed as both a food source and a sport fish. Carp were first imported to the United States in 1831 or 1832. and were stocked throughout the U'S. beginning in the late 1870s. Since it is both highly prolific and tolerant of pollution as well as a variety of aquatic environments, the carp has spread across North America. It is not only a nuisance, but threatens native species by both competing for food and increasing the turbidity (muddiness) of the waters it inhabits (Mississippi National River And Recreation Area, 2014).  

The common carp is, of course, related to the bighead and silver carp (often called "Asian carp"). See the answer for question seven for information on these species.

Considered a "rough fish" by Minnesota anglers, the carp is gaining popularity in other parts of the US and is a much-sought-after species in Europe, particularly in the UK where carp fishing is practically a science. Some British anglers even travel to the US in search of "trophy" carp! They can't understand why we'd prefer catching a two-pound walleye to a 20-pound carp. In case you're interested, the Minnesota record carp weighed 55 pounds, 5 ounces and was caught in Clearwater Lake (Minnesota DNR, 2014).

Unlike the carp, the other three species included in this question (highfin carpsucker, smallmouth buffalo, and longnose sucker) are all native to Minnesota. However, none is of significant importance to anglers.

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Photos courtesy of  Jay T. Hatch, Natural History of Minnesota Fishes. Reprinted with permission.

Background courtesy of Kelly's Kreations.