Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • large, deep-bodied fish
  • "whiskers" (barbels) beside mouth
  • back and sides vary from silver to olive-green, brassy or grey
  • yellowish belly
  • orange-red lower fins
  • partially scaled cheek and gill cover
  • one dorsal spine


  • length: 30-75 centimetres (12-30 inches)
  • weight: 0.2-3.5 kilograms (0.5-7 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 17.4 kilograms (38.5 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it’s found

Range of the Common Carp in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • throughout the Great Lakes region from the upper St. Lawrence River to Lake Superior
  • many inland lakes, reservoirs and rivers
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • warm, shallow, weedy lakes and rivers
  • bottoms and water from clear to murky
  • urban areas and habitats unsuitable for other fish

Angling tips

  • large, tough fish, capable of great speed and power
  • prime fishing in early morning and late evening
  • still fishing with natural bait works best
  • place bait directly on the bottom
  • easily caught from shore with rod and reel

Common baits

  • doughballs (soft or hard, often homemade)
  • liver paste and bread crumbs rolled into small balls
  • large kernel corn, boiled potato
  • earthworms