How to Bait a Lake for Carp

by Dan Harkins
Corn is a cheap and common bait for carp chumming.

Corn is a cheap and common bait for carp chumming.

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Some states, including California and Wisconsin, limit the way anglers can bait a body of water, draw more schools and catch more fish. In most states, however, chumming is a legal, strategic move. If you want to bait a lake or pond for carp, a common midsize catch nationwide, check the laws first then use the most cost-effective bait to snag the fish you seek. A little sonar support never hurts either.

Items you will need

  • Old bread
  • Corn kernels
  • Sardines
  • Chunks of bait fish
  • Rod (at least 5 feet long) with at least 8-lb. test
Step 1

Obtain a fishing license from the state where you want to catch carp. It is a requirement in every state for bodies of water that are not privately owned. Resident licenses are much cheaper than those for nonresidents; however, most states offer vacation licenses for visitors staying only a few days.

Step 2

Go to a location where carp have been known to feed. These fish are native to most areas and tend to congregate in schools along the shores of smaller lakes and reservoirs. If on a boat, use sonar along the shorelines to find the most schools. If on land, pick an area where you can fish along the broadest stretch of shore.

Step 3

Make small dough balls to last under water. Slightly moisten a slice or two of bread at a time, and roll it into a dough. Pinch off small pieces to bait the lake shore and use the large pieces as balls on your hooks.

Step 4

Add flavor to the bread balls to potentially lure more fish. Anglers regularly add flavorings such as peanut butter or vanilla to their bread balls to make fish more interested. An extra benefit is having the ingredients along for a basic sandwich when hunger strikes.

Step 5

Sprinkle kernels of sweet corn or small balls of rolled-up bread dough liberally across the area you aim to fish. Watch for bubbles, indicating the presence of fish, in the area where you've chummed. Bait your hook with similar-looking enticements such as a string of corn or a slightly larger ball of dough.

Step 6

Try another type of bait that carp are known to enjoy, such as small pieces of cheese, worms or small pieces of bait fish such as sardines.

Tips & Warnings

  • Carp fishing is rarely regulated by season, but check with your state licensing authority about potential limits on when and where it is legal to fish for carp -- and whether any daily bag limits pertain.
  • Use a little flour in your bread balls to help them maintain their form for longer periods under water.

About the Author

Dan Harkins has been a full-time journalist since 1997. Prior to working in the alternative press, he served as a staff writer and editor for daily publications such as the "St. Petersburg Times" and "Elyria Chronicle-Telegram." Harkins holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images