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Carp Fishing in New York

Common carp offer a fun angling opportunity as they grow large, fight well and can be found in almost every water body. Originally from Asia, carp were first introduced into New York State waters in 1831 to provide another food fish. The current state record carp is 50 pounds 6 ounces, and was caught from the Tomhannock Reservoir (Rensselaer County). While the likelihood of anglers encountering a carp of that size is low, New York has many waters with abundant carp in the 10-30 pound range

Equipment

As a prized gamefish in Europe, anglers there have come up with some very sophisticated equipment. Much of that gear is now making its way into the hands of dedicated carp anglers here in NY. For the novice carp angler, basic fishing tackle will work just fine.

  • Rod: Medium action rods of at least 6 foot will work but longer rods in the 8 1/2 to 12 foot range are preferred. Longer fishing rods can make it easier to land these big fish.
  • Reel: Spinning or spin casting reels with a good drag and capable of holding 100 or more yards of 10-15 pound test line.
  • Main Line: 10-15 lb. test monofilament or braided line. If in an area with a lot of vegetation use a stronger line.
  • Leader: Monofilament or flourocarbon. A couple lb. test lighter then the main line.
  • Hooks: Size 4 to 8 bait hooks work best.
  • Sinkers: Split shot and egg sinkers are most commonly used.
  • Strike Indicators: Electronic indicator, floats (bobbers), foil strip, or styrofoam (see PDF below for more detail).

Bait

There are many baits available for carp fishing from commercially prepared to "secret" homemade concoctions. This is one of the many fun things about carp fishing, trying or coming up with a new bait. A few baits to start with that you likely already have in your kitchen are canned or frozen corn, bread, dry dog food, and puff style cereal. Some baits that need preparing are field corn (needs to be boiled to soften it up), dough balls, and pack baits (often made with oatmeal ). As mentioned there are also a wide variety of commercial baits available.

Methods

Start by chumming the area you plan on fishing. Chumming is scattering bait in the area you plan on fishing to help attract carp. Corn works very well for this. You simply throw a few handfuls of corn in the area you are fishing. It usually only takes carp a short period of time to locate the chummed area. Freshen the area every half hour to hour with fresh handfuls of corn.

Step 1-Bait needle used for hair rig.
Step 1-Bait needle used for hair rig.

You can bait your hook with your chosen bait by putting it directly onto the hook, like you would typically do. However, a better method is to use what is referred to as a hair rig. The hair rig is a simple tag line from your hook with a small loop on the end. You first thread the corn (or bait of your choice) onto a needle, and then slide the bait off the needle onto your hair rig (see pictures).

This offers a couple of advantages; 1) your hook point is not covered by the bait, 2) if a carp takes your bait and tries to spit it out you usually still hook them, and 3) fish don't swallow this rig as deeply, which allows the fish to be quickly and easily released.

Step 2-Bait needle with corn threaded on.
Step 2-Bait needle with corn threaded on.

A simple bottom rig works well with hair rigs or just a standard hook. A bottom rig consist of an egg sinker, barrel swivel and a leader.

Bottom rig.
Bottom rig.

Cast your baited rig into the chummed area. Leave your bail open or your button pushed and place your rod in a rod holder. The classic "forked stick" works well but a better method is to use two forked sticks or a commercial rod holder designed for carp fishing with the rod tip slightly lower than the reel. Attach the strike indicator of your choice and wait for the action to start.

Step 3-Slide corn off bait needle onto hair rig.
Step 3-Slide corn off bait needle onto hair rig.

Playing and Landing Carp

Carp fight hard and make long runs so make sure your drag is adjusted properly and take your time to wear them out.
The use of a landing net and a pair of hemostats (or pliers) will help you land and unhook carp quickly. If you wish to weigh the carp, the easiest way is to weigh it right in the net.

Where to fish for carp

The following is a listing of some popular waters for carp fishing.

DEC Region 1; (631) 444-0280

Name of Water: Hempstead Lake
Location (county): Nassau County
Public access: Hempstead Lake State Park - Shoreline fully accessible, boat access with permit from state parks.
Notes: Carp are abundant, but small, generally 2 - 5 pounds.

Name of Water: Wantagh Mill Pond
Location (county): Nassau
Public access: Shoreline only, no boats

Name of Water: Massapequa Reservoir
Location (county): Nassau
Public access: Shoreline only, no boats

Name of Water: Belmont Lake
Location (county): Suffolk
Public access: Belmont Lake State Park. Shoreline fully accessible. Boat rentals available

Name of Water: Peconic River
Location (county): Suffolk
Public access: Limited shoreline access. Several DEC operated access sites for launching of cartop boats.

Name of Water: Fort Pond
Location (county): Suffolk
Public access: DEC Fishing access site and limited shoreline access.

Name of Water: Carmans River (tidal section)
Location (county): Suffolk
Public access: Limited shoreline access. Fishing from boat only in Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge

DEC Region 2; (718) 482-4922

Name of Water: Meadow Lake
Location (county): Queens
Public access: Shoreline access
Notes: Highest number of carp observed of any DEC New York City fisheries survey

Name of Water: Kissena Lake
Location (county): Queens
Public access: shoreline access
Notes: Try the shallow protected cove area

Name of Water: Baisley Pond
Location (county): Queens
Public access: Shoreline access
Notes: Try the shallows near the flag pole and promenade

Name of Water: Central Park Lake
Location (county): Manhattan
Public access: Shoreline access

Name of Water: Harlem Meer
Location (county): Manhattan
Public access: Shoreline access
Notes: Grass carp present

Name of Water: Willowbrook Lake
Location (county): Richmond Co. (Staten Island)
Public access: Shoreline access

Name of Water: Martling's Pond
Location (county): Richmond (Staten Island)
Public access: Shoreline access

DEC Region 3; (845) 256-3066

Name of Water: Wallkill River
Location (county): Ulster
Public access: There are no formal access sites, but several informal sites south of New Paltz along Libertyville and Albany Post Roads.

Name of Water: Hudson River
Location (county): Dutchess, Ulster, Orange
Public access: Many access opportunities
Notes: The Hudson River is the only water in the Region with much opportunity to catch large (&> 30 lb) carp

DEC Region 4; (607) 652-7366

Name of Water: Tomhannock Reservoir
Location (county): Rensselaer County
Public access: Access with City of Troy permit. Shore fishing only, no boats or waders.

Name of Water: Susquehanna River
Location (county): Otsego County
Public access: There are a series of car top launch sites along the river.

Name of Water: Goodyear Lake
Location (county): Otsego County
Public access: There is a DEC launch site on the south end of the lake - car top only.

Name of Water: Hudson River
Location (county): Albany, Rensselaer, Green and Columbia Counties
Public access: Public launch sites and waterfront parks for shore fishing.
Regulation note: Bowfishing is prohibited from the catch and release section of the Hudson River

DEC Region 5; (518) 897-1333

Name of Water: Hudson River (Stillwater Pool at Coveville; backside of Griffin Island in the bay)
Location (county): Saratoga, Washington
Public access: No public boat launches; commercial fee access launches at Stillwater and at Coveville
Regulation Note: Bowfishing is prohibited from the catch and release section of the Hudson River

Name of Water: Hudson River (Corinth to Lake Luzerne)
Location (county): Saratoga
Public access: On East River Drive, 2.5 miles south of the Village of Luzerne. Hard surface launching ramp. Parking for 30 cars and trailers

Name of Water: South Bay Lake Champlain
Location (county): Washington
Public access: South Bay Boat Launch, 2 ½ miles NW of Village of Whitehall

Name of Water: Sacandaga Reservoir
Location (county): Fulton
Public access: (NYS) Northville Boat Launch, Route 30, Village of Northville; (NYS) Broadalbin Boat Launch, off Cty Route 110 3 miles NE of Village of Broadalbin; and (NYS) Northampton Beach Public Campground, near Route 30, 1 ½ miles South of Village of Northville

Name of Water: Sacandaga Reservoir
Location (county): Saratoga
Public access: (NYS) Saratoga County Boat Launch, 5 Miles North of the Village of Edinburgh

Name of Water: Saratoga Lake
Location (county): Saratoga
Public access: State park boat launch site at north end of lake; private launches and marinas

Name of Water: Ballston Lake
Location (county): Saratoga
Public access: No public boat launches; commercial boat launch available

Name of Water: Mohawk River (Vischer Ferry Dam, canal complex)
Location (county): Saratoga
Public access: shoreline access all along river, canals, small ponded areas

DEC Region 6; (315) 785-2263

Name of Water: eastern Lake Ontario (Chaumont Bay; Chaumont River; Black River Bay)
Location (county): Jefferson
Public access: Public and private boat launches and marinas

Name of Water: St. Lawrence River Wellesley Island (Eel Bay)
Location (county): Jefferson
Public access: boat access in State Park

Name of Water: St. Lawrence River (Lake St. Lawrence - Waddington to Massena)
Location (county): St. Lawrence
Public access: Bulk (&>90%) of shoreline is owned by the New York Power Authority.

Name of Water: Mohawk River / Barge Canal
Location (county): Oneida, Herkimer
Public access: Barge Canal - bulk (>90%) of shoreline is owned by the New York State Thruway Authority. Mohawk River is a mix of public and private lands. Public and private marinas and launches on both waters.

Name of Water: Lake View Wildlife Management Area
Location (county); Jefferson
Public access: Boat access at north and south ends of WMA

DEC Region 7; (607) 753-3095

Name of Water: Lake Ontario (Deer River marsh)
Location (county): Oswego
Public access: Access along Rte 3 or private campground

Name of Water: Cayuga Lake (Ithaca area)
Location (county): Tompkins
Public access: Large town park at the south end of the lake

Name of Water: Onondaga Lake
Location (county): Onondaga
Public access: County Park at north end of lake and probably other sites around lake

DEC Region 8; (585) 226-5334

Name of Water: Seneca Lake in the Watkins Glen area
Location (county): Schuyler
Public access: Public fishing pier and large town park for access

DEC Region 9; (716) 372-0645

Name of Water: Lake Ontario (mouth of 12-mile Creek)
Location (county): Niagara
Public access: via State Park

Name of Water: Lake Erie (Dunkirk Harbor)
Location (county)
Public access: Public fishing pier and park for access as well as breakwalls, but need a boat to get to them
Notes: Abundant carp in the 10-20 pound range

Name of Water: Kinzua Reservoir
Location (county): Cattaraugus County
Public access: Excellent shoreline access but must contact the Seneca Nation of Indians for the most part. However, county owned land at Onoville Marina is NYS and has plenty of shoreline access
Notes: Abundant carp up to 30 pounds

Name of Water: Cuba Lake
Location (county): Allegany County
Public access: Shoreline access may be a problem. There is some, but not necessarily in the "carp" areas

Notes: Abundant carp up to 40 pounds

Name of Water: Chautauqua Lake
Location (county): Chautauqua
Public access: Shoreline access at Long Point (NYS), Tom's Point (NYS), Prendergast (NYS), Mayville (City of Mayville) and Lakewood (Town of Lakewood).

Name of Water: Allegheny River
Location (county): Cattaraugus
Public access: shoreline access available at bridges and along dike system in from Portville to Olean. Reservation license needed to fish section below Village of Allegany.

Notes: Fish usually not large with average about 3-4 lbs but very abundant.

Name of Water: Lower Niagara River
Location: Niagara County, Towns of Lewiston and Porter.
Public access: Shorefishing opportunities are available at State Parks (Fort Niagara State Park and Joe Davis State Park), New York Power Authority fishing platform, Lewiston Marina (ASand Docks@) and Youngstown Waterfront Park.
Notes: Carp more than 30 lbs.

Name of Water: Hyde Park Lake
Location: Niagara County, City of Niagara Falls
Public access: Located in Hyde Park (City Park) and a large portion of the shoreline is publicly accessible.
Notes: Carp up to 15 lbs.

Name of Water: New York Power Authority Reservoir
Location: Town of Lewiston
Public access: Some shoreline area available for fishing.
Notes: Carp up to 25 lbs.

Name of Water: Erie Canal
Location: Shared border water between Erie and Niagara Counties
Public access: Town and County parklands along shoreline.
Notes: Carp up to 20 lbs.

Name of Water: Upper Niagara River
Location: Erie County, Towns of Grand Island, Tonawanda, N. Tonawanda, Wheatfield and LaSalle.
Public access: Town and State parklands along shoreline.
Notes: Carp up to 25 lbs.

Name of Water: Wilson Harbor (embayment of Lake Ontario)
Location: Town of Wilson
Public access: Public breakwater and State parklands along shoreline.
Notes: Carp up to 35 lbs.

Name of Water: Buffalo Harbor (embayment of Lake Erie)
Location: Erie County (City of Buffalo)
Public access: Limited public access along shore, except at Buffalo Small Boat Harbor and adjacent breakwalls.
Notes: Carp up to 35 lbs.

Name of Water: Buffalo River
Location: Erie County
Public access: Limited shoreline available at local parklands. There may be personal security concerns at some of the parks.
Notes: Carp up to 40 lbs.

Name of Water: Delaware Park Lake (Hoyt Lake)
Location: Erie County (City of Buffalo)
Public access: Hoyt Lake is located completely within Delaware Park, a City of Buffalo public park. Most lake shoreline is publicly accessible.
Notes: Carp up to 20 lbs.


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