How to identify a Common Carp
The common carp is one of the largest members of the minnow family and a close relative of the goldfish. The carp’s closest look-alikes may be the bigmouth and smallmouth buffalos, which despite their resemblance to the carp, belong to an entirely different family (the sucker family).

The carp, the goldfish, and the buffalos all grow fairly large (the goldfish to about 16 inches; the carp and buffalos much larger); all have deep bodies; relatively small, protractile mouths; a forked tail; a single, long dorsal fin on the back; and large scales. The coloration of their bodies is also similar, ranging from olive brown to gold.

Where to catch Common Carp
The common carp are widely distributed in North America below the 50th parallel south to the Florida panhandle. Besides North America, Europe, and Asia, it is also now found in South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.


How to Identify a Common Carp
 1The mouth is pointed downward with thick lips and they have whisker-like sensory organs near their mouths
 2Long dorsal fin base
 3Large, thick scales cover the body


  • Current Edges
  • Drop-Offs
  • Merging Currents
  • Overhanging Trees and Bushes
  • Rivers and Streams
  • Undercuts
  • Dams and Falls
  • Freshwater Lakes and Ponds
  • Outsides of Bends
  • Riparian Zones
  • Rock and Boulder Pockets

Acknowledgements:  We thank (, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.