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Follow this step by step guide to learn how to hold and lift your prized carp properly to get that perfect photo

Holding a carp safely for the camera is just another skill that we as carp anglers have to learn. It takes a bit of practice but here are a few simple tips that will help you safely take that perfect trophy shot.

You can check out this video where I cover in detail all the steps to care for the carp when they’re out of the water. I show exactly:

  • How to handle a carp out of the water
  • How to hold it safely for the camera
  • How to treat its wounds and return it safely to the lake.

Safety notes:

  1. Always start by dousing the fish in lake water to wash off any debris and foamed mucus and keep the carp moist.
  2. DO NOT wash the carp off with your hands afterwards as you would remove the protective film on their body which is part of their immune system.
  3. Carp are cold bloodied creatures and we are warm bloodied. Carp react strongly when the temperature of our hands and wrists are different to the temperature of their bodies. To temporarily reduce this difference, place your hands and forearms in the lake for a minute or so before touching the carp. This will result in the carp behaving more calmly on the mat and will therefore be easier to lift for a photo with a lower risk of it flipping out of your hands.
  4. Finally, don’t forget to remove watches and jewellery.

1.     Sliding your hands under the carp

First, kneel down and get ready to slide your hands under the carp :

● Slide the hand nearest the head sideways from the mouth towards the gills (being very careful of the eye on the underside of the fish)

● Grasp either side of the front pectoral fin on the upper side of the carp as shown:


● Slide your hand nearest the tail underneath the tail and round until your fingers can grasp either side of the anal fin. Be very careful not to lift or catch scales when doing this.


2. Lifting the carp

● On a big carp,  you have to really reach round a long way. To make thing easier, tilt the carp away from you slightly with your wrists to bring the target fins closer.


● Then move from the kneeling into the squat position while holding the carp (if this sounds tricky, that’s because it is!). With your hands correctly positioned underneath the carp, lift it slightly and get one leg into a squat position:


● Now raise the carp further and rest your forearm on the squatting leg to stabilise the carp:

holding-carp-safely-for camera-carp-fishing

● Once you are happy, go for the other leg and rest your forearm on the leg too. Don’t put your hand too far away from the knee as it’s too hard on the wrists. This is not about strength, it’s about technique. Most adults should be able to maintain this position for 20 – 30 seconds before the wrists give up.

 3. Holding the carp for the camera

● Hold the fish directly over the mat and in front of you.

● Rest your elbows on your knees to support the weight of the carp.

● Keep a good grip of the fins and use your hands to keep the carp in a balanced and upright position.



4. Dealing with difficult carp on the mat

If the carp is going to wriggle or flip, they normally display clear signs of tensing. Roll the carp back onto your forearms and lower it on the mat. If the fish really goes for it then you may have to place it back on the mat and cover its eyes. This will calm the carp down. Don’t rush back into having another go too quickly. Cover the carp in water and give yourself and the carp time to recover.

carp care on the mat_carp fishing

Not many anglers get the opportunity to catch big carp on a regular basis and it takes time to master the skill of holding a carp well. As with anything, practice makes perfect and Beausoleil is the perfect carp fishing venue to get plenty of practice in!

If you want to see some examples of well held carp, check out this video:

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