Why do carp jump? : the science behind the behaviour.

Geoff Stadnyk in Fishing Guides on

If you have been to a lake or perhaps gone fishing, you might have seen carp jumping out of the water and wondered, “why on earth do they leap out of the water?”. If you also wonder if carp bites humans, we have a separate article for that.

There are several reasons why do carp jump or exhibit this seemingly unusual and peculiar behaviour. They have been identified as:

  • Anatomical reasons
  • Hygenic reasons
  • Purely for fun

That’s right! There is no one single reason that a carp might choose to display this strange behaviour.

The most common reason carp choose to jump out of water is anatomical. Carps have swim bladders that allow these fish to regulate their buoyancy. This unique anatomical feature is crucial for a carp’s survival as it lets these fish swim across various depths.

This article will explore the various reasons carp jump out of the water, such as:

  • What are anatomical reasons that make a carp jump?
  • What are the hygienic reasons that make a carp jump?
  • Do carps jump to have fun?
  • What are some of the jumping games that carp play?

If you also want to know what a mirror carp and a ghost carp is, we have articles here for you to read.

Table of Contents

What are the anatomical reasons why do carp jump?

Carp, as mentioned above, jump for various reasons. The most common cause is anatomical. Carp have an anatomical feature named swim bladders. These regulate the buoyancy in the water allowing the carp to swim across different depths.

On an occasion when a carp swims from the deep towards the surface of a body of water, the pressure on the carp’s swim bladder goes up. The carp needs to get rid of this pressure to swim closer to the surface of the water. So, whenever this happens, a carp will shoot out of the water to remove that extra pressure to swim closer to the water surface.

Anatomically, the swim bladder of a carp is also connected to another part of the carp’s body called the esophagus. When a carp leaps over water, it forces air in or out of the swim bladder along the esophagus. This allows a carp to alter the depths when a carp re-enters the water.

One cannot observe this behaviour in carp living n a shallow water body, as the water is not deep. The pressure in shallow water bodies aren’t great, and therefore the carp don’t need to adjust their swim bladders accordingly. It is also important to note that carp don’t necessarily need to jump out of the water to reach new depths.

What are the hygienic reasons that make a carp jump?

Just as you and I have hygienic needs, carp have them too. A carp might jump out of the water so that it can clean its gills.

Carp usually feed at the bottom of a water body. As these fish suck up food from the water body’s bed, dirt and debris often get stuck in their gills.

As the carp leaps out of the water with its head back down, water washes the gills and cleanses all the debris and dirt that might be stuck there., kind of like you taking a good scrub to clean off dirt and dust on your body.

Parasites that latch onto the carp’s gills are washed off when they jump and plunge back into the water.

Do carps jump to have fun?

As humans, we have plenty of ways to have fun. But for a carp, the options are limited. As anglers (best electric fishing reels for anglers here) have observed, at times, carps just jump all day long without taking any bait. The fish don’t even bother to feed on such days. As an experience dangler will tell you, the carps are just having fun, in their way! So, the answer to the question is, yes, carps jump to have fun too.

What are some of the jumping games that carp play?

Japanese carp fish feeding

Carps have a variety of jumps. They have different styles, kind of like we humans have different games!

Carp tend to jump in various ways. Keeping an eye out for the differences in their jumping styles and patterns can be helpful for an angler to land a carp.

There are four main types of jumps. These jumps are the full glorious jump, the half hearted jump, the peekaboo and the roll.

What is a full glorious jump?

A full glorious jump is when a carp leaps high out of the water before plunging down fast There are two reasons for carps to jump in this way. They are to have fun or to clean their gills by striking the water with maximum force. If an expert angler sees such a fish they usually try to fish the bottom from where the carp jumped out.

What is a half-hearted jump?

The half-hearted jump is when the carp leaps high enough that it nearly has its entire body out of the water, but not all. This jump is done so that they could adjust swim bladder to dive deep in search of food. An expert angler will wait to see the fish emerge again and try fishing at the bottom of water source, because it is likely that the carp might be feeding just below.

What is a peekaboo jump?

The peekaboo is when a carp barely sticks its head over the water. This is taken as a sign that it has been feeding and come back to the surface of the body of water to clean its gills. If one should observe a carp in this manner, it is best to start fishing in the area. It is an indicator that the carp is feeding in that spot.

What is the roll?

The roll is when the carp emerges to the surface and rolls over. It is likely to cone across carp engaging in this behavior in small groups. It might be a sign that the carp are migrating to a different part of the water bosy. This is a sign that indicates that the carp are on the move.

In conclusion a carp jumping can be due to one of the reasons highlighted in the article above. This behavior is a fascinating one to witness in person. It is worth seeing at least once in a person’s life time.

We have articles here about fishing rods and fishing reels that you might be interested in.

Geoff Stadnyk

Geoff started fishing as a child in the gorgeous lakes of Mammoth, while on family vacations. His fishing experience includes the use of fly rod and reel. Guided trips along the Madison and Gallatin rivers in Montana, the Frying Pan and Animus in Colorado, and the Deschutes river in Oregon have all paid off and helped make Geoff the angler and writer that he is today.

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