Why do carp jump?
A few days ago, with a half-hour to kill, I put a line in my favorite spot at the river. With trout, that’s usually enough time to hook up, but not with carp. At least, that’s the way it rolls on our river, and for moi.
But I did get to see one jump way out of the pool, then come down in an inelegant belly flop.
Last year, when I started carping, I’d see this and think “Oh, man, am I ever gonna hook that sucker,” but not anymore. Jumping carp are interested in something, but not eating a fly.
So … why do they jump? Fun? Recreation? Boredom?
I checked the bible — “Carp on the Fly” by Barry Reynolds and friends — to find this passage. Italics are mine:
“Shallow-water hell raisers are exactly that: carp that are making a spectacle of themselves by leaping, splashing, and thrashing in the shallows. These fish seem utterly oblivious to the dangers they may face by drawing attention to themselves.
True … see Carp Clubbing entry on this blog.
Often, there is a reason for this, particularly in the spring when carp are spawning. As you might expect, spawning fish are usually not very interested in your fly — they have other things in mind.
True, but this happened in June — no spawn on.
But at other times, these hell raisers are carp that are smashing through schools of baitfish and they’re a very good target for a small streamer.
False for the L.A. River. I’ve never seen a school of baitfish on it.
So … what causes this behavior? Here’s an answer from a carp fishing forum based in Georgia:
“Carp actively break the surface of the water for two reasons. Both reasons are due to water quality/lack of oxygen. If the ph factor is too acidic or the dissolved oxygen count is too low carp come up to seek more comfortable conditions. Carp normally stay and feed and roam on the bottom. When they are on the surface they are almost impossible to catch.”
Sounds good, but who knows (except for that last part, which is true, true!)
I put together this poll from various answers found on the Web. Any fish biologists out there care to clear up this mystery?
See you on the river, Jim Burns