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Carp and Muskies are the St. Lawrence River's “BIG FISH,” and the river offers world-class angling for both species. Every year anglers catch muskies and carp that attain weights in the 30- and 40-pound classes. Fifty-plus pounders of each species are known to swim in the river. For more information on muskie fishing, see fish finder for this guide. Likewise, for information on carp angling, consult the fish finder.
Anglers who pursue carp refer to this species as the “queen of the river.” CARP ARE A POWERFUL fish whose fighting ability pushes any angler's skill and tackle to the limit. With deep-surging runs and arm-wrenching power, carp provide a fight that has to be experienced to be believed. Sport fishing for carp is rapidly growing in popularity along the St. Lawrence River and across the country.
TESTIMONY TO THE QUALITY OF CARP FISHING IN THE ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY STRETCH OF RIVER IS THE FACT THAT THIS AREA HAS BEEN THE SITE OF BOTH THE WORLD CARP FISHING CHAMPIONSHIP AND JUNIOR WORLD CARP FISHING TOURNAMENTS.
The average weight for a St. Lawrence River carp approaches 20 pounds, and fish up to 40 pounds are common. The New York State record stands at 51.25 pounds, and record-breaking fish are believed to be swimming in the river. Since carp fishing is generally done from bankside, the activity is available to all anglers.
New York State law permits the fishing of carp all year long, but anglers generally restrict their efforts to May through ice-up. June, July, and August are the most popular months because they yield the biggest fish and the most fish. Catches of 20-30 fish per person a day are a common occurrence. Carp can be caught throughout the day, but the best action occurs around dawn and dusk.
ETHICS CALL FOR ANGLERS TO PRACTICE CATCH AND RELEASE. When possible, anglers are encouraged to use a mat when landing a carp to prevent injury to the fish. Use a breathable sac when weighing a fish and before returning it to the water. Also, be sure to pick up all litter so that the area, referred to as a “swim,” is clean for the next angler. Regulations allow an angler to use two rods, and anglers use a single hook on each one.
Tackle and Bait
THE BASIC TACKLE CONSISTS OF 12- TO 13-FOOT RODS WITH LARGE SPINNING REELS ALTHOUGH ANY STURDY OUTFIT CAPABLE OF CASTING 20-30 YARDS FROM SHORE WILL WORK FINE. Serious carp anglers carry an unhooking mat and an array of terminal tackle for tying rigs. Fishing line is generally in the 15- 20-pound range. Various types of bait will catch carp, but the most popular are corn and boilies. The corn is pre-soaked for 24 hours and sometimes boiled to make it softer. Boilies are a kind of doughball that is treated with sweet flavors such as strawberry or pineapple. Before fishing an area, a quantity of corn is thrown into the water to lure in fish.
Where To Go
THERE ARE LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF “SWIMS” TO FISH ALONG THE BANKS AND ISLANDS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER. State parks, public docks, public beaches, and boat launches are very popular, and since the New York State Power Authority owns the majority of river frontage between Massena and Red Mills, there is no shortage of fishing spots. Carp inhabit the entire length of the river so any spot an angler can legally and safely fish is a potential hotspot. Anglers are encouraged to select “swims” that allow for the safe landing of the fish, also.
Carp-fishing supplies and carp-fishing information are available at the Riverview Motel/Specials and Tackle (315/388-5912), the St. Lawrence Experience (315/393-2350), American Carp Adventures (315/769-9400), and the Complete Angler/Golden Salmon Ranch (315/764-1324).