The Carp. Cyprinus carpio

Carp belong to the family Cyprinidae  of the Order Cypriniformes and placed in the genus Cyprinus. I archaic times it was known as the " Queen of the rivers", a stately good and very subtle fish. The carp was introduced to England by monks in the 1300s and now occurs in almost every river and lake.

In his book The Compleat Angler, 1897, he states that  ---" {the carp} that hath not long been in England, but is now naturalised. It is said that they were brought hither by one Mr. Mascal, a gentleman, that then lived in Plumstead, in Sussex, a county that abounds more with fish than any other in this nation"

Sir Richard Baker in his chronicle wrote this verse--

                           " Hops and Turkeys, Carp and Beer,

                             Came to England all in one year."

In 1952 Richard Walker was esteemed for netting Britain's first 40lb fish. The British record now stands at 60lb. However, the average weight is between 10-20lb. male carp are mature at 3-4 years, females 5-6 years. 



Photograph courtesy of Dezidor. CC BY-SA 3.0 License



I return now to extracts from the above mentioned book to get an insight of how the perception of the fish was at that time. Everyone has heard some extraordinary stories from members of the angling fraternity such as the size of the " one that got away", and other unusual encounters during the course of their experiences. However, I find the following paragraphs utterly amazing, more so, because of the fact they were experiences of educated gentlemen and written by an eminent author of that time {1897}, it commences----" Now, as the increase in carps is wonderful for their number, so there is not a reason found out I think, by any, why they should breed in some ponds and not in others of the same nature for soil and all other circumstances. And as their breeding, so are their decay mysterious. I have both read it, and been told by a gentleman of tried honesty, that he has known 60 or more large carps put in several ponds near to a house, where, by reason of the stakes in the ponds, and the owner's constant be near to them, it was impossible they should be stole away from him, and that when he has, after 3-4 years, emptied the pond, and expected an increase from them by breeding young,he has, I say, after 3-4 years found either a young or old carps remaining."

The author continues--" And the like I have known of one that almost watched the pond and at a like distance of time, at the fishing pond, found of 70 or 80 large carps not more than 5-6, and that he had foreborne longer to fish the said pond, but that he saw in a hot day in summer, a large carp swim near the top of the water with a frog upon his head; and that he upon that occasion, caused his pond to be let dry, and I say of 70-80 carps, only found 5 or 6 in the said pond, and those very sick and lean, and with everyone a frog sticking so fast on the heads of the said carps, that the frog would not be got off without extreme force or killing."

" And the gentleman that did affirm this to me, told me he saw it; and did declare the belief to be {and I also believe the same} that he thought the other carps, that were so strangely lost, were so killed by frogs, and then devoured; And a person of honour, now living in Worcestershire assured me he had a necklace or collar of tadpoles, hanging like a chain of beads about the Pike's neck and to kill him, whether it be for meat or malice must be a question"

Was there at that time a breed of frog that killed fish in that manner and are now extinct or were these gentlemen exaggerating or genuinely mistaken??

Carp are large fish

photograph courtesy of 3268 zauber CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Bettelnder Karpfen.JPG

I suspect many anglers will confirm that when one fishes for carp one has to be well endowed with patience or a great measure of luck. My angling colleagues tell me the best time to fish for carp is either very early morning or very late in warm or hot weather { apparently they do not bite in the cold}. There are many writers who can give the reader a better account on the intricate ways of catching carp that I am capable of, so to them I gave way.


Crucian carp

Photograph courtesy of Viridiflavius { Creative Commons Attribution}Crucian carp


Here I return to the Compleat Angler {1897} where the author gives a recipe and manner of the cooking carp, however, I suspect the ingredients would be hard to obtain or be affordable to the ordinary angler of that time----" take a carp {alive if possible}, scour him and rub him clean with water and salt, but scale him not; then open him, and put him with his blood and liver {which you save when you open him} into a small pot or kettle."

"Then take sweet marjoram, thyme and parsley, of each half a handful, a sprig of rosemary and another of savoury, bind them into 2 or 3 small bundles, and put them into your carp, with 4-or 5 whole onions, twenty pickled oysters and three anchovies. Then pour upon your carp as much claret wine as will only cover him, and season your claret well with salt, cloves and mace, and the rinds of oranges and lemons, that done cover your pot, and set in on a quick fire until it is sufficiently boiled. then take your carp and lay it with broth, the yolks of two eggs, and some herb shred;garnish your dish with lemons, and so serve it up, and much good do you"

I rest my case!!  

Carp in Prague.

Carp/photograph courtesy of Karalji CC BY_SA 3.0 License

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