Why do carp jump out of the water?

We all like seeing the fish. Granted our favourite time is one we have hauled a decent one in with our landing net. As a close second, when the fish are on top and being super active, we find it is a great motivator. When you know the fish are about it can really help to get your head geared into catching them. Carp surface activity can indicate that they are actively feeding and you can use this knowledge to your advantage. This article is going to tell you how.

Why do carp jump out of the water?

Lets briefly answer the question first as there are a few reasons. The first reason, which is no good to us as anglers, is that carp sometimes splash themselves onto the surface to clean themselves. The ‘smack’ of the water is often enough to dislodge lice and other parasites. The other reasons are far more interesting and can help us catch a bit of knowledge.

Carp can be surface feeders. If you see carp ‘sipping’ or splashing, especially in the summer months, there is a fair chance they are eating things off the surface. Flies, seeds and other creatures feature heavily in a carp’s diet. If you see them indulging in the behaviour it may be worth trying a floating dog biscuit or other such bait under a controller float. However, jumping doesn’t always mean the carp are feeding on the surface.

Weird? Let’s talk a little about this.

Carp are serial ‘grazers’. If you want to know how a carp eats, look at a goldfish (which are in fact small carp). They suck in and blow out their food, and with each cycle they ingest a little of it. Often you will see their gills flapping. This is how they ‘filter’ their food. If a carp is feeding on the bottom, they may accumulate grit and muck in their gills. And what’s a good way to flush them out quickly?

You’ve guessed it. Jumping. The carp use the force of the water as they ‘torpedo’ out to clear their gills of sediment, before returning to the bottom to feed. If you can be reasonably sure that they aren’t taking food on the surface, try a bottom rig. A method feeder works wonders in these situations. A good sign that carp are sifting on a muddy bottom is air bubbles in your swim. As carp ‘dig’ they release pockets of air and gas trapped in the mud. If you are getting jumping and air bubbles it’s almost a certainty.


There are a few reasons for carp to jump. If it’s parasites, normally signified by a ‘crash’ then this information may not be too valuable to you. But depending on how they are feeding and a few other tell-tale signs you will be able to alter your tactics accordingly.