One of the biggest obstacles to catching carp has nothing to do with the carp itself but its fish relative, bream. It is very common when carp fishing, whether in the United States, Europe, or anywhere else in the world, to encounter bream instead.
Bream are smaller than carp, generally easier to catch than carp (given both species’ behavior), and don’t have the same taste as carp. In contrast, carp can be up to 50 pounds and put up quite a fight while being caught; for those reasons, anglers alike seek out carp, especially in comparison to bream.
Since bream and carp often inhabit the same environments, though, it may seem impossible to avoid bream when carp fishing. Although you can’t control Mother Nature, there are a few things that you can do differently in order to raise your chances of catching carp instead of bream.
In this article, we’ll review some basic but important information about carp, carp fishing, and bream themselves. Then we’ll look at some tips and tricks for avoiding catching bream and hooking carp instead.
We’ll close out with some delicious recipes for carp and bream (in case you don’t plan to release your catch back into the wild), because the most important part of fishing in the first place is to enjoy!
Before we get into detail about how to avoid bream when carp fishing, we need an understanding of what carp and carp fishing entail. What is carp? Why do anglers prefer it over other types of fish?
First, what is carp in the first place? Carp is a freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae that is native to Europe and Asia but also found in many other parts of the world, including North America and the United States.
Some scientists and ecologists consider carp to be an invasive species, though by now, they are found in almost every state in the continental United States. While not native to North America, most environments have adapted to their presence.
Some people purposely raise carp in large freshwater ponds in order to fish for them specifically. They are challenging fish to catch and are oily and versatile, able to be used in several recipes and dishes once you get used to their unique taste.
How big are carp? Carp can range pretty widely in size; what is more, they can get very large, which is the reason why many people enjoy fishing for them.
Carp usually range in length from 15 to 30 inches from nose to fin, approximately. In terms of weight, they can be as small as 5 pounds or as large as 30 pounds, and some grow as large as 55 pounds or more (though carp larger than about 30 pounds are much rarer).
Their size is part of the reason why many people enjoy fishing for carp, since sport fishermen love big catches, especially among species that can range so much in size. They put up a very good fight, providing the thrill of the catch; it takes serious skill to be able to reel in a large carp.
Now that we know more about carp themselves, let’s look at some of the basics of carp fishing. Many aspects of this area of angling help explain why so many fishermen and fisherwomen seek them out.
Carp Fishing 101
For Your Information: For everything that you need to know about carp fishing, you can visit the American Carp Society, which is an organization specifically dedicated to carp fishing in the United States (and much of their information is applicable in other parts of the world as well).
Carp is a great fish for beginners and advanced anglers alike, because they are very strong fish and fight hard against being caught. Therefore, they present a challenge (especially the larger carp) that is great for learning how to fish but also difficult for those with more experience.
Where can you fish for carp? Carp is commonly found all over the United States and the world, so wherever you live, you can likely find carp fishing somewhere nearby.
That said, not all climates and types of year are ideal for carp. Carp become more active when the weather and the water start to cool off in the fall, so this is a great time to fish for carp.
With the impending cold weather, they need even more food than normal to prepare and are thus more active, and sometimes grow less cautious about the food they will try to eat. This makes them more likely to take your bait and become hooked.
Carp is found in fresh water, often in places where you also find catfish or bass. While they can be found in any depth of water, and they tend to like drop-off areas, where the water goes from shallow to deep very quickly.
Look for places where rivers meet other bodies of water, such as lakes or ponds. Carp like to feed off of the food sources that flow through in such a high-traffic area.
They also like margin or perimeter areas of bodies of water, especially among reed or other aquatic plant life. This is a great place for carp to find food, which is why they spend so much time there.
Carp can actually be seen jumping very early in the morning around sunrise and later in the afternoon around sunset; this is a good way to locate them for fishing and also a good time to fish for carp since they are active and close to the surface.
Is it legal to fish for carp? This is not an easy yes or no question: the answer actually is, it depends where you’re hoping to fish as well as the time of year.
That said, it is typically legal to fish for carp in most places, at least during parts of the year (when it is considered to be “in season”). Carp are not endangered and are sometimes considered invasive, so it is actually environmentally friendly to fish for them.
In order to fish for carp legally, check in with your local fish and game warden. In addition, be sure to acquire proper licensing to fish, and be sure to have all necessary registrations for your boat if you use one.
What equipment do you need?You obviously need a fishing pole to fish for carp, and a stronger pole is best since large carp especially are quite strong and will put up a fight.
Some companies sell rods that are specifically made for carp. If you’re not looking to invest in a new rod, though, you can use one you already have: something around 12 feet in length with a 2- to 3-pound test curve works, or just use one of your favorites and see how it does.
For bait, you have a wide variety of options; even regular bread from home will work to bait carp. That said, the type of bait you use might impact what else you could catch (including bream), so be sure to read our section on bait below.
Use a hair rig. Did you know that the hair rig was developed specifically to catch carp?
If you’re using a hair rig, all you need is a couple pieces of corn for bait. We don’t have time to go into detail here in this article, but there are many good tutorials available that can teach you how to do this.
Once caught, many anglers will release carp back into the water. Not everyone likes the taste and if you aren’t planning to eat the fish, it is the kind and humane thing to do.
Feel free to snap a picture of your catch, but prioritize its life. There’s nothing wrong with photographing the carp in the water before releasing it so that it can keep breathing.
Now that we’ve covered the basics about carp and how to catch them, it’s time to talk about our less pleasant subject — bream!
What Is Bream?
Bream is also a freshwater fish that originated in Europe but is very common in North America and the United States, and types of bream are also marine fish, meaning that certain types live in the oceans.
Bream does not refer to one particular species of fish, but rather a type of fish that is similar in appearance and certain behaviors; that said, different types of bream are not necessarily close genetic relatives.
Typically, bream are bronze or reddish in color and have deep, narrow bodies. Commonly, freshwater bream is actually a breed of fish known as bluegill, which can also be good to eat.
Why Do You Want or Need to Avoid Bream When Carp Fishing?
There are a few reasons to avoid bream when carp fishing. For one thing, bream are not very good sport fishing; they’re small, and it isn’t challenging to catch them.
In other words, it isn’t as much fun! Carp are great fighters, and there’s a thrill of the chase that just isn’t there with bream.
For another thing, if you’re hoping to eat your catch, bream do not have the same flavor and texture as carp fish. To some, they are significantly less appetizing.
Finally, although it isn’t likely, bream fishing might be restricted in some places. This likely won’t be because there is an issue with the bream population itself, but perhaps because another species that is threatened, endangered, or protected relies on them for food.
Is There a Fool-Proof Method to Stop Catching Bream?
Sorry, no. Unfortunately, there is no method that is 100% effective. We wish there was!
What we can provide, though, are methods that have proven effective for experienced anglers in catching bream instead of carp. Below are five good methods that other fishermen and fisherwomen have used with success.
Stop Catching Bream, Method #1: Use a Hair Rig
The hair rig was developed specifically to catch carp, and it requires few materials; in fact, you may already have many of them in your tackle box. More advanced hair rigs require more specific materials, but they aren’t needed for beginners or less serious anglers.
A hair rig involves attaching the bait to a hair below the hook. It ensures that the carp fish are hooked on their lower lip, which makes them easier to hook and easier to reel in. At the same time, hooking the lower lip is also less dangerous for the fish and makes releasing them more humane.
You want to use very long hairs in general for catching carp and avoiding bream. Single hookbaits, and 2-3-4 baits will also be helpful in avoiding bream.
Carp are going to be naturally wary of anything unfamiliar; this is partially just how they are, but it is also because many carp have been caught and released over and over again. They know to avoid anything that looks unfamiliar, so you must carefully conceal your bait and hook.
Stop Catching Bream, Method #2: Use Larger Bait or Boilies
It just makes good sense: if you want to catch a larger fish, use a larger bait. This is because smaller fish cannot open their mouths enough to eat items that are too large.
Just as most humans would not try to stuff an entire whole pineapple in our mouths at once, fish use learned experience, spatial reasoning, and instinct to know what they should or should not try to eat. If something is too big, they won’t bother with it.
Now that being said, larger bait isn’t a magic solution to your bream problem and it comes with some drawbacks. For one thing, smaller carp may also need to pass on your tempting treat, and even larger carp may not be used to seeking food so large.
We mentioned boilies above, and that is one good method of larger bait that can be used for carp. If you make homemade boilies, you can also exactly control the size and the ingredients in yours.
In addition, be aware of bait that may flake apart (such as some types of pellets) or have pieces disintegrate or tear away. Periodically check and make sure that your bait is still intact enough to use.
Stop Catching Bream, Method #3: Don’t Use Pellets or Live Bait
These are both things that bream tend to love, so obviously, if you don’t want to catch bream, don’t use them.
In terms of pellets, these are designed to attract fish, and though some brands will market themselves as appealing to one type of fish over others, the buyer should beware because fish are not picky eaters. If a pellet is appealing to carp, chances are good that bream will eat it too.
Instead of traditional pellets, you can try using boilies, or hard-boiled bait, which is larger and which bream cannot eat.
When we mention live bait, we’re talking mostly about worms, which are high protein and which bream love. In addition, grasshoppers, crickets, and other insect bait are delicious foods that are easy to eat by bream (as well as sun fish), so don’t use them for carp fishing.
Stop Catching Bream, Method #4: Try a New Spot
If you’ve tried all or most of these methods and you’re still catching bream instead of carp, the problem might be where you are fishing. Remember that fish go where they know they can find food, much as do most other animals on earth.
Therefore, it’s possible that the reason why you’re running into so much bream is because, for whatever reason, food for bream is readily available. Try fishing in another location that is also good for carp, such as among reeds or other aquatic plant life.
You can also try switching the days or times of day you fish to better your chances for carp. Some species of bream, especially the bluegill, will be more or less active depending on where the earth is in its moon cycle.
This is because the mating rituals of fish often revolve around the where the moon is in location to their own. You can use this information to maximize your chances of encountering one type of fish over others.
Be very mindful of noise, as well. The larger the fish, the more likely it is to flee upon hearing loud (or even moderate) noise, so be very careful not to make much noise at all when hoping to catch large carp instead of bream.
When you switch locations, be sure to also use the best practices that we have outlined above. Soon, you’ll be catching carp with no trouble at all!
Make Sure That Whatever You Do is Legal
For a variety of reasons, certain fishing methods or practices are outlawed in certain places. Even things that might seem harmless to you and me might not be allowed, usually because it endangers wildlife in some way.
Be a good steward of the environment in which you fish by checking with your fishing license provider and local fish and game agencies to make sure that you’re obeying the rules. You will avoid a potentially hefty fine, and what is more, you’ll be helping preserve the area for future generations of anglers as well as yourself!.
Be Prepared for Bream
Any angler — professional or amateur — will tell you that one of the most important skills they possess is patience. Catching bream, or another type of fish that you do not want and did not intend to catch, is part of the sport.
Being prepared for this kind of disappointment is especially important if you’re introducing kids to carp fishing (or any kind of fishing). Carp is a great fish to start out learning with, but it can be equally frustrating.
In addition, look on the bright side (and there’s always a bright side!). Having bream in the way of catching your carp makes the whole experience more challenging, which is what all true sportsmen and sportswomen want and one of the best reasons to fish in the first place.
No matter who you are fishing with, celebrate every catch, and most importantly, enjoy all parts of the process. Even if you go home empty-handed, you will still have a lot of great memories.
Recipe Ideas for Cooking Carp
As a post-script, we thought we’d throw in some delicious recipes for both carp and bream; Americans sometimes struggle to cook and enjoy both of these types of fish, so try one of the following to enjoy whatever you catch.
First, if you catch your fish, you’re going to need to clean them. The cleaning processes for all fish are somewhat similar, and there are many other tutorials online.
Embrace the Bream
Last but certainly not least, you also have the option to accept the fact that your waters are infested with bream. Some species of bream can get relatively large, and fishing for them can be good sport in its own way.
There are also many delicious and inventive recipes for cooking bream. As with carp (and most types of fish), it can be breaded and pan fried.
Enjoy the Experience
Regardless of whether you successfully avoid bream and catch massive carp, or whether you come home with a cooler full of bream, the most important part of any fishing expedition is to enjoy the experience. Fishing and becoming a true angler wouldn’t be fun without the challenges, and avoiding small fish such as bream are one of them.
Attracting your desired species of fish is part of the learning experience, so be sure to embrace it and enjoy every minute of your fishing expedition!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel