Carps body is extremely flattened on the sides. It has a big head with blunt mouth and small eyes All carp and related fish have a toothless mouth but possess pharyngeal teeth at the beginning of the gullet to grind food into digestible sizes. Above the upper jaw there are one smaller and one bigger tentacle on each side. It has a typically long dorsal fin. The colour of the body depends on the habitat that the fish is living in. Usually the back colour varies form blue to dark green or green brown. Its sides are blue green or golden yellow and the belly is dirty white. Its fins are normally grey green with blue reflection with the pelvic fins and anal fins in red reflection. The first three parts or the dorsal fin are quite stiffer from the others with the third part being the longest part of the dorsal fin. The average length of the fish is 25-50 cm and average weight 1-3 kg. In goods conditions carp can reach extreme sizes both in length and weight. Lake Cerknica has a strong population on Carp which can reach up to 20 kg in weight. With limitation that prohibits taking the fish that is longer than 60 cm the Association is trying to preserve that population in Lake Cerknica and Lake Bloke. Carp is the most important specie for breeding in lowland and wormer ponds. Carp in ponds have higher back because of the still water and plentiful food. There are several subspecies of Carp which were spread with crossbreeding and selection of the wild Carp:
Scaled carp – it has big scales mostly around the lateral line.
Mirror carp – its colour is darker usually olive green and it has scarce large irregular shaped scales over the back, belly and beginning of the tail.
Leather carp – its colour is brown and is totally scaleless.
It spawns from May to June in shallow waters of temperatures 18-21°C. The females lay big numbers of sticky eggs on wear vegetation. Young fish hatch already after one week. Carp is successfully spawning in Lake Cerknica and Lake Bloke.
Carp originates form Eastern Asia. It is spread all over Europe except the high north. The fish prefers warmer slow running and still waters rich with small water fauna on which adult animals feed. Youngsters feed on plankton. It swims mostly on the bottom which is characteristic for all fish with tentacles. In Slovenia it is very popular in ponds for sports fishing. In Cerknica Fishing Association fishermen introduced the carp in both lakes many decades ago. In Lake Bloke this species is a dominate one.
Even though the carp is very important economically it is also very interesting for sports fishing. When fishing for carp you have to have very strong equipment. The fish is known after fears resistance and the fact that when caught it flees in water vegetation which can be dangerous for the gear. We use special rods and lines for carp fishing. As far as the bait is concern there is no problem. You can use bread, corn, hard-boiled corn mush or boiled potatoes. Artificial baits called boils have become more and more popular. These are small balls of aromatized mixture with corn, corn mush, tiger small nuts…Usually fishermen feed the fish on the same spot for a few days before fishing so the fish get accustomed to the smell of the bait. Wild carp is very cautious and doesn’t bite instantly and this way fisherman enhance their chances for successful fishing. It is very important to know that carp swallows its food very slowly. Thus when the fish grasps the hook it is crucial not to pull the line right away but wait a few moments that buoy dives completely or that piper alarms for a while or the fish starts to pull the line. Big carp can be very difficult to pull to the shore because of its fears resistance during which it can tear the line with his sharp dorsal fin.
Carps flesh is very tasty thus a bit greasy especially big fish. As written it feeds on the muddy bottom and that is why the flesh has a slight distinguish taste of mud. With taking the skin of before preparing the dish and with the right recipe that taste can disappear. You can find some recipes in our column Recipes.