Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 122   September 13, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

There is an unreasoning prejudice against the "German" carp. Originating in China, during the Crusades it was brought to Europe where for centuries it has been a choice fish for food and sport. Several varieties were bred and developed in carp "farms", including the fast-growing Galician strain we have in this country. Introduced here in 1877, a pair of carp was worth up to $80 for breeding purposes in those days. Planted in streams, lakes and ponds in many states, carp rapidly spread into most of our inland waters.

The Skokie Lagoons in the forest preserves west of Winnetka and Glencoe are overcrowded with carp and bullheads. Enough of these fish survived the severe winter-kill of 1944-45 so that their numerous spawn, lacking competition, have thrived in such numbers that they now hinder the growth of the largemouth black bass and bluegills with which the lagoons were restocked.

The carp is exceedingly prolific, adaptable and omnivorous. Moreover, it feeds by touch rather than by sight, as do bass and bluegills. Carp, feeding on aquatic plants and small animal life on the bottom, tend to muddy the water. That doesn't bother them as it does the game fish and pan fish.

The carp is as hard and persistent a fighter as a bass when taken on light tackle but it has a tender mouth from which the hook tears easily unless played properly. Taken from such clean water they are excellent eating. Fried, baked, broiled, pickled or smoked, they have their own excellent flavor. The "mud vein", or streak of dark flesh down the side, is just as edible as the dark meat of a chicken.

Among the favorite baits for carp are worms, kernels of green corn, and doughballs. Doughballs are made by pouring a cooked mush of cornmeal and flour, flavored with a strong cheese, over a thin layer of cotton batting. After cooling, this is cut into small pieces and molded over the fish hook.

Wanted: more carp fishermen !

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