First introduced into New York State waters in 1831, carp are now found across the State. They are distinct in appearance, usually with large heavy scales covering their bodies and two short whiskers (called barbels) surrounding their mouths. Their fins have a deep red tint and the dorsal (back) and anal (bottom rear) fins each have a single thick, saw-toothed spine that can produce a nasty wound if touched carelessly.

Carp can grow quite large in New York State’s waters, more than 40 pounds! They eat a variety of plant and animal material and are often spotted by the cloud of mud they stir up as they feed. It is not uncommon to see and hear carp sucking in floating insects at the water’s surface.

Originally from Asia, carp were first brought to New York State to provide another food fish. Over time, however, they have become less popular as a food item and instead have picked up the reputation of a “polluted fish.” Although carp can tolerate polluted waters, they prefer clean waters. Carp taken from clean waters are excellent to eat. Carp are commercially marketed live, smoked, or cleaned and iced.