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Big Carp Are Happening...NOW!

By Matt Janiszewski and
Mark Boriek, Principal Fisheries Biologist
May, 2012

Many New Jersey anglers don't realize it, but we live in one of the best locations in the United States to fish for carp. Carp fishing is very popular in many places throughout the world, but for the most part these freshwater giants aren't sought after by many people in the U.S. Only in recent years has fishing for carp begun to gain popularity in this country, and as carp anglers grow in numbers and discover untapped fisheries more and more reports of great catches begin to surface.

In recent years the tidal freshwaters of New Jersey have produced fish of gargantuan proportions. The combination of abundant food sources and the sheer size of these rivers, particularly the Passaic, Hudson, Raritan, and Delaware, allow carp to grow into true giants. Multiple 40-pound specimens captured over the past few years have put New Jersey on the map in the carp fishing world.

The month of May tends to be the best month of the year to target giant carp. These pre-spawn fish are at their heaviest then and eat as much as possible before they spawn. So far, this May, carp weighing 33.2, 38.8 and 30 pounds have been landed and documented.

Dedicated carp angler Matt Janiszewski recently contacted us about a giant carp he landed. Here, in his own words, is the story of his Raritan River monster catch:

"On May 9th, 2011 I landed my personal best carp of 42.2 pounds, and when I woke up on Wednesday morning May 9th, 2012 I never would have dreamed I'd catch a 50 + pounder on the 1 year anniversary of my personal best.

"This time of year, when the water is in the 60's, carp tend to love feeding on oats, so I was using a hair rigged oat ball for bait with a mixture of oats and creamed corn molded around my lead. Around 1:00 p.m. I had some bumps on my middle rod so I picked it up and the fish was there. It took about 75 yards of line out and I slowly reeled it back in. The fish sat right in front of me, swimming back and forth like a dog on a leash, for about 20 minutes, before I finally got it in the net.

"When I saw the size of the fish I knew I had something special. I quickly put it in my weigh sling and then on my scale……55.29 pounds in the sling! I was shocked. Without the sling the fish weighed 53 pounds 12 ounces, smashing the 1995 state record of 47 lbs. I got the fish back into the sling, zipped it up, put it back in the water, and called my buddy down to take some pictures.

"As I was waiting for my buddy, I called biologist Mark Boriek at NJ Fish & Wildlife to see if he or another biologist could come down to the river with a NJ State certified scale to verify the record. He said they couldn't make it down, and the certified scale at their office only goes up to 50 lbs. I would have had to kill the fish, and bring it to one of their hatcheries for a certified scale weighing if I wanted it as an official record.

Matt Janiszewski with his monster carp
Matt Janiszewski with his monster carp
Click to enlarge

"The carp was full of eggs, and it was more important to me to have the progeny of that fish in the river for years to come, than having my name in the NJ State Record Book. So, my friend Donald showed up a few minutes later, and after a quick photo shoot of the fish, I released it, unharmed. It was truly the fish of a lifetime, and one I'll never forget."

Congratulations to Matt on his record-size fish, and for his commendable sense of ethics in releasing this fish so that others may enjoy fishing for monster carp in the Raritan.

For more info on carp fishing in NJ see:

Freshwater Clydesdales: Carp! (from 2004 Freshwater Digest, pdf, 80kb)
Freshwater Clydesdales: Carp! Part Two (from 2005 Freshwater Digest, pdf, 165kb)
Carp Information

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Last Updated: May 16, 2012