Michigan carp fishing is a world of fishing unto itself. From the bait to setting the drag to the required stealth along the bank. All for a wild carp that you have to throw back. Worth it? You bet. Here are the tips you need.


Common carp are considered a game fish and you need a fishing license to go after them.


Thousands of recipes exist for bait, but for the money, a can of whole kernel sweet corn is hard to beat. Put a couple of kernels on a simple No. 6 or No. 8 baitholder hook and enough split shot (or, even better, a slip sinker) 12 inches to 16 inches above to hold the bait on the bottom.


Any tackle heavy enough for bass fishing will work for carp—a fairly stout fishing pole with a medium to heavy spinning reel that can accommodate at least 150 yards of 10-pound line.


Get a reel that allows you to quickly adjust the drag tension. It’ll come in handy when fighting a big one and will save you from losing your rig entirely should you get a strike. Set the drag as loose as possible whenever the rod isn’t in hand. After you cast, reel up the slack, set the bail, and settle in. Should a fish strike and make a run, crank the drag up to a predetermined position or number, set the hook, and hold on.


Clunking around on the bank and casting shadows on the water is a fast-track to getting skunked; likewise don’t wear a white T-shirt or anything else that makes you stand out. If you can see the carp, guaranteed the carp can see you.


Farm-raised common carp are edible, wild ones from Lake Michigan are not. As bottom feeders, they’re polluted, plain and simple, carrying a “black diamond” warning (never eat) from the Michigan Department of Community Health.