Looking after the carp after capture is probably one of the
main reasons specimen anglers do what they do.
There is nothing more rewarding than watching the lump you
just landed, being released and swimming back into the
depths, unharmed, comfortable and sometimes even healthier
than it was before it was caught.
There are a LOT of people out there that wonder and question
why on earth we treat the fish with such care and
tenderness. I say that’s pretty simple, so that one day, our
children and their children can catch those same fish, at
triple their weight. The next generation of specimen anglers
need their own fish too, so specimen angling is helping the
ever increasing number of anglers out there that are after
their first and definitely not last “monster carp”.
In this article, I’m going to cover a few topics in one. The
equipment available to buy connected to carp care, and the
correct way to handle a carp and why. So first and foremost,
we need to make sure, as individuals and groups, that we are
doing our bit in preserving the sport for years and decades
There are a large number of items and equipment on the
market at the moment, that are designed to benefit the carp
and keep them safe whilst in the process of landing,
unhooking and holding.
Carp care equipment
This is one of the most important pieces of equipment
and no specimen angler should be without it. It consists of
a fairly large “cushion” that is padded and comes in many
different designs. Most are rectangular in shape and padded
in some area or another. The unhooking mat is the most
important piece of tackle because it’s where the carp will
spend most of its time before being released again. Always
remember to keep you’re unhooking mat wet and cool at all
times. You don’t want to be caught un-awares and left with a
fish in the net and nowhere to put it because of the
scorching hot unhooking mat that needed wetting first.
The first piece of “fish friendly” gear that a tired carp
will encounter once its been hooked up. The standard
specimen anglers landing net will measure 42” in size and is
made up of a fine mesh-like material, that is knotless, so
as to protect the carp's delicate scales and prevents them
from being lifted. The landing net is usually the item you
will use to transport the carp from the water, to the
The weigh sling does exactly as the name suggests. It’s used
for the weighing of the fish and is basically stress free
for the fish. Made of a soft plastic material, they too come
in varying sizes and shapes and are fitted with either 2
handles for easy maneuverability or a steel ring on the
handles, so as to allow easier access for the scales to be
hung onto. Many weigh slings come with zips across the top,
just incase you have a fish that is still very lively when
you are handling it.
Michael showing how to properly hold a carp
A carp sack works in pretty much the same way as a weigh
sling, except its main purpose it to hold a carp for a
certain amount of time. The main reason that carp sacks are
used, is to hold a carp that’s been caught at night, so that
photos may be taken at first light, although with today’s
technology and digital camera’s that are available, there’s
not a huge necessity for a carp sack.
A lot of anglers also choose to use one to calm a fish down
a while before unhooking and weighing it. Some fish get very
stressed out during the fight, so calming them down in the
carp sack a little while is not a bad idea. Stressed out
fish tend to emit small white bubbles or even get nose
bleeds, if this starts happening, keep the fish wet.
Those are the items that every specimen angler should have
with them when angling.
Next I will explain a small step-by-step process of what to
do from landing the carp, to releasing it.
Once the carp is in the landing net,
it needs to be carefully carried to the unhooking mat,
positioned not too far away from the waters edge. Roll
the landing net up as tight as you can to the carp and
lift it up with 2 hands, carrying it close to the
Once on the unhooking mat, place the
carp on its side straight away, so not to harm the
fish’s internal organs, you can now proceed with
unhooking the fish once you have managed to calm it
down, it may kick and jump about on the mat, but placing
you're chest over the fish will calm it down.
Get the rig and rod clear of the mat
and make sure you or one of your fishing partners is
pouring lake water over the carp as often as possible,
just to keep the fish comfortable.
Weighing the carp comes next. Gently
slip the weigh sling underneath it and make sure that
the carp’s pectoral fins are pushed flush with its body,
so as not to break the fins.
Taking the photographs is next, if
you feel the need. Holding the carp in the correct
positions is vital, because there are parts of it that
will hurt it if held incorrectly.
When holding a carp, position your
hands as shown on the photo above. One hand between the
pectoral fin, and one hand between the dorsal fin. You
are not damaging any internal organs and there is no
pressure on the fish. Stay low and close to the
unhooking mat at all times.
After photos you can inspect the fish
for any sores or scabs, missing scales, that it may
have. Try to keep a bottle of mecurochrome with you, or
otherwise a product called KLINIK that is a special
waterproof anti-bacterial that will stay on the fish for
a long time and keep the sore or missing scale covered
from anymore water born germs. Please be sure to handle
the fish with wet hands as well, because of the special
slime that covers its body.
Once photos have been taken, slip the
fish back into the weigh sling or your unhooking mat,
and carefully carry it to the water's edge. Once there,
lower the sack or mat into the water and let the fish
take its own time to recover before swimming off.
Please be sure that you take all these points to note,
because they are vital in preserving the sport of specimen
angling. Remember, we can’t catch a fish and then release
it, if it wasn’t looked after properly. That’s defeating the
point of catch and release.
These fish are the reason we do what we do, so keeping them
alive and healthy as long as possible, can only be
beneficial to the future and us.