How to Catch Grass Carp Like a Pro: Ultimate Fishing Guide



How to catch grass carp

Fishing for grass carp can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. These freshwater fish are known for their cautious nature and can easily be spooked, making them a tricky catch. However, with the right techniques and equipment, learning how to catch grass carp can be an enjoyable activity.

In this guide, I will walk you through some of the best methods for catching grass carp, from choosing the right bait to the best fishing tackle and the best spots to find these illusive fish. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Introduction to How to Catch Grass Carp?

Catching grass carp requires using the right bait and techniques. Sweet corn is effective due to its sweetness and bright color, while other options include boilies, breadcrumbs, and worms. Vegetables mixed with these baits can also attract grass carp, as they are known to feed on aquatic plants and love foods like lettuce, celery, watermelon rind, and green beans.

To improve your chances of landing a grass carp, use techniques like bottom feeders or try float fishing. Light tackle will help you detect even the slightest bites, grass carp are cautious fish so even the slightest resistance on the line this fish will move away from the bait.

Grass carp are not only fun to catch, but their removal can also restore balance to ecosystems where they are considered invasive. It is also important to note that grass carp are often mistaken for common carp due to their similar appearance. But grass carp have distinct physical characteristics such as a longer body, white belly and they have a much smaller head compared to the common carp species.

Grass Carp Swimming in a River
Grass Carp Species

The Appearance of Grass Carp

Grass carp are easily identified by their long, slender body shape and distinctive dorsal fin set far back towards the tail, giving them an elongated appearance. Grass carp typically have a silver or olive-green color with a white belly.

Moreover, grass carp also have pharyngeal teeth, which are located in the throat area. This allows them to grind plant material and feed on aquatic vegetation.

Understanding their Habitat

When fishing for grass carp, it’s important to know that these fish thrive in specific habitats. Grass carp prefer slow-moving or still waters with an abundance of aquatic plants, such as water lilies, hydrilla, and duckweed. These herbivorous fish were introduced to lakes and ponds in the late 1970s to help control weed growth.

Grass carp are drawn to water with moderate currents and plentiful vegetation, typically staying near shallow areas. As herbivores, grass carp primarily consume aquatic vegetation, including pondweeds, coontails, cattails, and bulrushes. So, to increase your chances of catching a grass carp, you should focus on areas with this type of vegetation.

Dense vegetation, such as weed beds or brush piles, provides grass carp with shelter from predators and protection from harsh weather conditions. These areas also serve as feeding grounds, attracting smaller fish seeking refuge.

Best Bait for Grass Carp: What Do They Eat?

Grass carp are herbivorous fish that primarily feed on vegetation, making them unique among other carp species. Understanding what baits work best for grass carp is essential to catch these elusive bottom feeders.

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the best baits that work well for grass carp fishing and some tips on how to use these carp bait effectively.

Corn Carp Fishing Bait
Corn is a good Grass Carp Bait

Using Feed Corn to Catch Grass Carp

One of the most effective baits for grass carp is feed corn. Feed corn is readily available at most stores and can also be bought in bulk and is affordable for many anglers.

When using feed corn as bait, it’s important to soak it in water for several hours before fishing. Soaking the corn makes it softer, more attractive and easier to digest for the fish.

After soaking the corn, simply thread a few kernels onto your hook or hair rig and cast your line into the water near weeds or other areas where grass carp are known to congregate.

It’s important to use a strong rod and line when fishing for carp, especially this type of fish, as they are known to offer a strong fight and can weigh over 100 lbs.

Using Worms To Fish For Grass Carp

Another popular bait for grass carps is worms. While worms may not be their primary food source, they are still attracted to them and will often bite if presented correctly.

When using worms, it’s important to keep in mind that they can attract other fish species. Like Tench, bream, and worms may even attract the dreaded ells if you are not careful.

Spoiled Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

Spoiled corn and cherry tomatoes are also effective baits for catching grass carps. These fishing baits work particularly well during the summer months when grass carp are more active and feeding on a variety of different food sources.

Sweet Corn, Bread, or Dough Balls

Other bait options to consider for grass carp include bread, breadcrumbs or dough balls, these are all effective choices that can help you catch these elusive fish.

Bread is great option for grass carp fishing and white bread tends to work best. To use bread as bait, simply tear off a small piece and mould it around your hook. And make sure the hook is completely covered so that the fish can not see it.

Dough balls are another popular choice for catching grass carp. You can buy pre-made dough balls at most fishing supply stores or make your own using flour, water, and other ingredients like garlic powder or cheese for added flavour.

More helpful Content: Learn How to Catch Carp With Corn, sweet corn is an excellent bait for catching all types of carp species.

Setting Up Your Rig: Hair Rigs vs Sliding Rigs

Once you’ve chosen your carp fishing bait, it’s time to set up your rig. There are two main types of rigs that work well for catching carp: hair rigs and sliding sinker rigs.

A hair rig is a type of rig where the hook is tied onto a short length of line (the “hair”), which is then attached to the main line using a small swivel or clip. This allows the bait to move freely in the water without getting tangled.

The Sliding Sinker RIG

A sliding sinker rig is another popular option for catching carp. With this type of rig, a weight (usually a sliding sinker) is placed above the hook on the main line. This allows you to adjust how deep your bait sits in the water without having to re-tie your rig.

Choose the Right Location

When trying to catch a grass carp look for shallow areas with vegetation or structures where they are known to feed. Grass carp are herbivores, so they tend to hang out in areas with plenty of aquatic plants like lily pads, cattails, and hydrilla.

In addition to vegetation, structures like fallen trees, docks, and bridge pilings can also be good spots for catching these fish. These structures provide cover for them and they also attract smaller baitfish which in turn attract larger fish like, the grass carp.

  • Look for areas with abundant vegetation: Grass carp feed are found near shallow bays, coves, or areas with plenty of submerged, rooted vegetation like pondweed, coontails, and water milfoil.
  • Focus on weed beds and cover: Grass carp tend to congregate near weed beds or structures that provide cover from predators. Check for signs of their presence, such as movement in the water or feeding trails.
  • Monitor surface and mid-water level activity: Grass carp often feed near the surface or mid-water level. Keep an eye on these areas for signs of feeding activity, such as ripples, bubbles, or splashing.
  • Observe bird activity: Birds like herons or egrets may be attracted to areas where grass carp are present because they also feed on plants and small fish. Watching for bird activity can help you locate potential grass carp habitats.

Setting Up Your Fishing Equipment

Choosing the right tackle is crucial to catching carp. First up, the fishing rod. You need a rod that can handle the weight and size of grass carp, which can grow up to 100 pounds.

To catch a grass carp, choose a rod with a test curve of at least 2.5 lbs, but preferably higher. The test curve refers to the amount of weight required to bend the rod tip down by 90 degrees. As I said before, these powerful specimen fish put up one hell of a fight.

In addition, you should also consider other factors such as the length of the rod and its action. Longer rods are better for casting longer distances, while shorter rods offer greater control over where your bait lands. As for action, a fast-action rod will bend mostly in the top third of its length, making it ideal for long-range casting and playing big fish like grass carp.

Ensuring Proper Equipment Setup

Before starting your grass carp session, it’s crucial to ensure that all of your equipment is in good condition and properly set up. This includes checking for any damage or wear on your rod, reel, landing net, and any other terminal tackle you might use.

You should also ensure that your rod is securely attached to the reel and that the line is threaded through all the guides. You may also want to consider using specialised carp fishing equipment, such as bite alarms, or a bait boat for better bait distribution.

Using Strong Fishing Line

For grass carp fishing, you’ll want to ensure that you have strong fishing line with a test weight of at least 20–30 pounds. This will ensure that you have enough strength to reel in a big grass carp without risking losing them altogether. Which is a nightmare!

Spinning Reels with a High Gear Ratio

A spinning reel is recommended for grass carp fishing due to its ease of use and versatility. Anglers should choose a reel with a high gear ratio, as this will allow them to retrieve the line quickly when needed. This is especially important when dealing with grass carp, which are known for their powerful runs and sudden bursts of speed. When choosing a spinning reel, look for one that has a smooth drag system and can hold at least 150–200 yards of line.

Use Hooks Ranging from Sizes 4-8

When choosing hooks for grass carp fishing, anglers should opt for sizes ranging from 4 to 8, depending on the bait used and the size of the fish they are targeting. Larger hooks are better suited for bigger baits such as sweet corn or boilies, while smaller hooks work well with smaller baits such as bread or dough balls. It is important to use sharp hooks for grass carp fishing, as these fish have tough mouths that can be difficult to penetrate.

Pre-baiting Your Fishing Area

One effective technique for catching grass carp is prebaiting your fishing area before actually casting your line. Also known as chumming the swim. This involves scattering corn or your bait mix around your chosen spot in order to attract the carp.

By doing this ahead of time, you’ll be able to create a feeding frenzy that will increase your chances of catching this type of carp species. Note, prebaiting should be done in moderation, as overfeeding can actually make the fish less interested in the bait on your hook.

Blending In with the Environment

Camouflaging yourself and blending in with the environment is crucial to catching grass carp. These herbivorous fish are skittish and easily spooked, so it’s imperative to approach them with caution. Here are some tips on how to blend in with your surroundings when fishing.

Wear Neutral Colors

When heading out fishing for grass carp, it’s best to wear neutral colors that blend in with the environment. Avoid bright colors or patterns that may startle the carp. Instead, opt for earthy tones like brown, green, or beige. This will help you blend into your surroundings.

Use Natural Scents

Grass carp have an excellent sense of smell, so using natural scents can help attract them to your bait. While also masking any unnatural smells that could scare them off. Try using garlic or anise oil as a scent attractant; both are natural scents that can lure in these elusive fish.

Stay Quiet

When approaching a pond or lake to fish for grass carp, it’s critical to stay quiet and avoid sudden movements, especially when you get near the water. Carp are easily spooked by loud noises or sudden movements, so try to move and talk quietly around the edge.

Blend In Your Tackle

In addition to blending in your clothing and scent attractants, it’s also wise to choose tackle that blends in with the environment. Choose hooks and weights that match the pond or lake bottom color where you plan on fishing for grass carp. This will make your tackle less visible and may also increase your chances of landing a big fish.

Be Patient

Patience is key when catching grass carp. They’re not called “elusive” for nothing! It may take some time to catch one, but don’t get discouraged. Keep trying different baits and techniques until you find what works best for you. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Benefits of Grass Carp, Where to Find Them

Big Grass Carp
Image Credit: News-Orvis

Control Aquatic Plants Overgrowth

Grass carp were introduced to many lakes and ponds globally in the 1960s and 1970s because this carp species effectively controls the overgrowth of aquatic plants. Grass carp feed on submerged, rooted vegetation such as pondweed, coontails, and water milfoil.

These grass carp play a vital role in maintaining the health of aquatic ecosystems by consuming excessive plant growth, which can lead to improved water quality and the overall balance of the ecosystem. As a result, their presence is beneficial not only to the environment but also to other species living in the same habitat.

However, it has not all been rosy, as issues have occurred when this carp species consumed non-target vegetation or excessively grazed the lake bed. By doing so, they have disrupted the food web and led to competition with native fish for resources. To prevent overpopulation, sterile grass carp are now introduced into water bodies.

Healthy Source of Protein and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Grass carp is a healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It is a low-fat fish that provides essential nutrients for maintaining good health. A 100-gramme serving of grass carp contains approximately 20 grammes of protein and 1 gramme of fat.

While the omega-3 fatty acids found in grass carp are known to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function, be sure to check the regulations of the lake before deciding to take your fish home to eat. Or See: Is Carp Safe to eat?

Where to Find Grass Carp

Grass carp can be found in freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, and ponds. They prefer warm temperatures ranging from 68°F to 86°F. The best places to look for grass carp are in areas with abundant vegetation, such as shallow bays and coves. They tend to congregate near weed beds or other structures that provide cover from predators.

How to Fish For Grass Carp

Your chances of landing a grass carp will increase if you take the time to understand their habitat, behaviour, and diet. To increase your chances of catching one. The use of the right bait and rig and choosing the ideal location are crucial factors that will determine the outcome.

Moreover, blending in with the environment is key to avoiding spooking the fish. Using gear and tackle that match the size and strength of these fish will help you reel them in without breaking your line and losing them.

However, the benefits of landing a grass carp go beyond just personal satisfaction. They are considered an invasive species in many areas, and removing them from certain lakes, or ponds can help restore balance to the ecosystem.

Best Time to Catch Grass Carp

Grass carp can be caught throughout the year, but their activity is limited to the period between April and October. If you want to increase your chances of catching them, it’s best to go fishing during the summer months, when early morning or late afternoon tends to be the most productive.


Learning how to catch grass carp (proper name: Ctenopharyngodon Idella) can be challenging but extremely rewarding as they put up a good fight. By using the right bait, rig, and location will increase your chances of landing one of these huge grass carp species.

Remember to always be careful and responsible for your surroundings, and release the fish you don’t plan on keeping to respect the regulations of the water. Hope this guide has taught you a thing or two about grass carp, best of luck on the water.

Tight Lines, Happy Fishing

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *