River Carp Fishing: How to Catch Carp in Rivers

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Carp is a popular fish game around the world. It is one of the fishes beginner anglers targets when they want to improve their personal best. 

These fishes are popular in ponds, rivers, seas, and other water bodies. But it is a different thing to fish for carp in rivers. While the pond and lakes are easier for new fishers to manage, fishing in rivers is not the same.

Even if you have been used to fishing carp in lakes and ponds, fishing carp in the river is entering an entirely different game. You will be dealing with bigger fish that are swift in water currents. This also means different sets of rigging and equipment. 

This article explains how to catch this queen of the rivers, as larger carp is fondly called in Europe. With these river carp fishing tips, you will learn how to keep your carp supply all year round.

river carp fishing
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The Demands of River Carp Fishing

Although the carp fish species is the same everywhere, the ones in the lakes, ponds, and canals are different from those in the river in different ways. The main difference is that carps in ponds and lakes move less than those in the river due to water currents.

Sometimes, the fishes have regular feeding spots. In the river, the water moves swiftly, and the river currents are usually high. Carps in lakes and ponds have hiding places. Also, some people feed carp in some lakes, especially private ones. 

In comparison, the river is a broader space, and this necessitates different behavior and eating habits in carp.

Carps in lakes and ponds eat less quantity of food because they do not need much energy for movement, considering the water is calm. In the river, carp have to fight the current, and they need more food for swimming energy. 

Carp in lakes and ponds are used to seeing baits often as anglers frequent these places. However, carp in the river are not used to them. You need special skills to bait them.

Furthermore, river carp are very mobile; they can swim some kilometers in a day. Therefore, if you see a carp in a location today, it might not even be close to that spot the next day. 

You have to skillfully navigate the currents, pick the best bait, and cast accurately. River carping is harder for new fishers, but this guide contains tips and tactics to make it easier.

Best Carp Fishing Locations on the River

Although rivers are large, there are some spots you can target for carp. First of all, you have to understand the river. You should visit it and look around before your fishing day. 

Carps feed in groups. So if you spot a carp in a location, you are likely to see others there. You can find carp in shoals.

Also, look out for places, like the river shoulder, where there is a natural food supply. As the river carries the food, the fishes wait for them. Large boulders are also food spots to target. You can see carp feeding there.

You should look out for places with some form of obstruction like trees, bridges, and other natural stops. River carp are wild fish. They may not be in these places always, but they are good spots to check.

Best Time to Fish Carp

Fishing carp during summer is better because they are more active during this time than during winter when their metabolism is slow and they are less active.

However, you can also fish carp in winter and keep the supply around the year. River carping in winter is productive because the water is moving fast, so the chances of carp freezing in the water are less.

Take advantage of those windy days because the wind will cause insects and other edibles to fall into the water. The carp will want to have these foods. 

Moderate rain is advantageous because it will wash edibles into the water and also increase the oxygen supply. Additionally, light rain will help your casting because it will disguise your splash and activity.

Early mornings, late evenings, and nights are times to go river fishing for carp. With the right supplies and gear, you will make the best of the times.

Best Carp Baits and Baiting Strategy

Aside from getting the best baits, you need to imbibe a profitable baiting strategy, which is to pre-bait the fish.

By pre-baiting, you are building the trust of the carp and improving your chances of catching trophies. They will be used to feeding in that spot and will take your bait with less hesitation when you do drop them.

This method will also give you the opportunity to know the baits the fish like. River carp feed differently from lake and pond carp. Knowing what baits the carp like will improve your chances of catching one.

When it comes to choosing bait for carp, most carp anglers favor boilies. Boilies are available in different flavors, colors, and sizes. Brighter colors like white, pink, and orange are preferable, especially in murky waters.

You can use what boilie is best suited for you. In addition, you can use corn. Sweet corn is also great for carp fishing since these fish like sweet foods.

Smaller boilies are most suited for winter carp, while bigger ones are best suited for summer carp.

Best Gear and Rig for Carp Fishing

You need the right carp rigs, and equipment is essential for successful carping. Given the river current, your fishing equipment has to be equal to the task. Your equipment will determine how successful your outings are.

The best fishing rod to catch carp is one that is 12 ft. in length. While a longer rod can make for better casting, it can impede your maneuverings. These rods can effectively halt carp movement, even if it is swift.

Choose the lead that is okay for the job without being too heavy and big. If your lead is about 2 ounces, it is great for the job. Heavier and bigger leads can splash and alert the fish, thereby impeding your effort.

Your hooks and a fishing line should be suitable for the fishing area. There are different types available, but many anglers go for a braided mainline. You may want to try the options to know which is best for you, though. A hook of 8 size is okay for the job.

Large reels of 8000 size are perfect for fishing for carp. Hair rigs are better as well, especially if you are a newbie. They are suitable for many situations. You can use different baits like boilies and corn with them.

More Tips and Tricks on How to Catch Carp in Rivers

  • River carp are intelligent and can recognize unusual or unfamiliar sounds. Therefore, when you go fishing, try to keep it quiet.
  • It is advisable to wear clothes that will blend with the environment so that you do not present an apparent foreign body to the fish.
  • The spawning period is not the best time to catch carp because you cannot predict their behavior. Also, it can decrease the fish population in the future.
  • It is advisable to go river fishing with different sizes of baits, especially boilies, to give room for the best option.
  • Ensure to have your fishing license with you to avoid restrictions.
  • Ensure that your gear and equipment – hair rig, landing mats, rods, reels, etc. – are always in good condition. With the right tackle, your outing will be successful.
  • Do not be easily discouraged. You might read and watch lots of guides, but experience is the best teacher. Keep at it.


Carp is a popular fish species for freshwater fishing, but river carp fishing requires great skills. Fishing at the right location with the right gear will improve your chances.

Early morning, late evening, and night fishing is best for smaller carp and even trophy carp.

It helps to keep your carp bait like boilies in different sizes. With his guide, you will be able to keep your carp coming in all through the year.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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