Splashing the Shoreline

It’s that time of year again, when the carp fish are reproducing, and The Oxbow is an ideal place to see them now most of the vegetation has been removed from the water’s edge.

Breeding carp are using the shallow water between the islands and the trail to mate and lay their eggs. If you’ve not seen this phenomenon before, it’s worth a walk down the Oxbow during the next few days. But be careful, these fish are noisy love makers and their sudden splashing close to the water’s edge can be quite startling. My dogs were scared and ran away at their first encounter.  Several males may spawn with a single female at a time. Spawning areas are typically shallow, weedy bays (water depths of one to four feet).  

Carp must have water temperatures between 18 and 24° C (just about 73 degrees Fahrenheit)  before they start breeding. They like daylight too.  A slight increase in water level,  daylight and optimal temperature, will  activate spawning. They lay up to one third of a million eggs, and if conditions are right, they can repeat the process more than once a year, often in the fall.

Carp were introduced into the USA from Asia in the 1830s as another food source. More human interference! It makes one wonder, what with all the Asian imported vegetation growing along the shore and in the woods, if there are any indigenous species of flora and fauna left here at all!


Many people consider carp to be an awful food source, and I was one until I started reading up on it and realised there were many recipes  indicating this fish was a treat to eat. So rather than kill a fish just to find out, I bought a fillet of carp from a local Asian Market where they have no inhibitions regarding eating carp.

Bread crumbed and shallow pan fried was my choice for cooking, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Carp is delicious, and as the canal has some of the cleanest water in the state, I’d have no qualms in recommending eating this fish.

Video of spawning Carp

Carp are another destructive, invasive species, and many methods are used worldwide to remove them from waters. In New York, bow hunting is permitted in certain waters, with no limits on quantities taken. In Australia, genetic engineering to make females sterile has been introduced. Some states have tried netting with limited success.

The invasive Snakehead fish in the Midwest is being served up in many top restaurants, so perhaps Carp needs to become a local staple in our supermarkets?

On the plus side, carp fishing is a great pastime. and these heavy hitters can give an angler  a really good fight, especially if you use light tackle.







Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

3 thoughts on “Splashing the Shoreline”

  1. Hi! Wonderful work with the oxbow! I’m curious about your comment regarding the cleanliness of the canal water. I have always heard that it’s very dirty/polluted and smelly. We have lived on the canal for 3 years now and I am not sure what to think. I certainly think it’s fantastic! Is there a good source to find out the real scoop?


    1. It’s the same line of thinking from folks that say carp are a junk fish that would make most people vomit if they ate it but they have never actually tried it.
      The NY State DEC are the folks where I found this information on water quality several years ago. I’ve eaten fish from the canal for may years and I’m perrfecctly alllwighht!


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