Marathon, Florida News Article

Carp Fishing on Lake Martin

Kowaliga Live Bait and Tackle
Posted: 7/28/2008

Deborah Duck

          Lake Martin is one of the best fishing lakes in the country, home  to over 46  species of game and  bait fish. Currently holding state records for White Crappie at 4 pounds 9 ounces is Jeremy White from Alexander City on May 8, 2000 and for Grass Carp at 70 pounds is Michael White, Jr. from Eclectic on April 12, 1999.  Not only do we have many different species of fish, we have BIG fish! 

           The Grass Carp is one of the larger of the species found in Lake Martin.  They range in length from 2 1/2 feet to  4 1/2  feet as adult fish.  This fish is an exotic species native to Asia with descriptions of the fish dating back to 1844.  The Grass Carp was imported to the United States to help control aquatic vegetation back in the early 60’s.  This is a large, strong-swimming fish.  They can make fantastic jumps if you frighten them or if you get them confined in a small space.  Carp consume up to their weight in food each day, consequently they grow fast, about 20 inches per year.  As a child, I was always told that Carp are trash fish and that they are not good to eat.  As an adult I learned that people in France and Canada view Carp as a delicacy.  One of the most sought after vacations is to go on a Carp Fishing Holiday.  They have Fishing Trails there just like we have Bass Tournaments here.  And they take it seriously!  The world record Carp comes from Rainbow Lakes in France weighing in at 87 pounds 2 ounces.  I also read about one fellow who went on a fishing holiday in France and caught 110 Carp averaging 32 pounds each.  What a holiday!
           Grass Carp are prolific in Lake Martin causing concern because they compete with native species for space and food.   Since we have now determined they are good to eat via our French friends and a few of our own locals, I propose we try to catch some of these and try them ourselves! 
           There are many good types of bait for Carp; the simplest of all is making a doughball by squeezing some bread on a hook.  You can add some type of flavoring like vanilla or anise, or just dip it in corn juice after you have put it on the hook.  The cardboard tubes of biscuit dough from the grocery store work well.  You can sometimes find ready-made Carp baits at your local tackle store, but so far the Carp have proven to be too smart for any of these tackle companies to come up with a formula power bait that they will eat consistently.  Most doughballs that work are made from scratch with a variety of ingredients that you pick up at the grocery or feed store and most are cooked.  As a child we fished for Carp for fun and Daddy mostly used Cornmeal Doughballs.  It was always a fun activity to get the doughballs ready on Thursday night before we headed out for the weekend fishing on Friday when Daddy got home from work.  This is the recipe as best as I can remember it.
Carp Cornmeal Doughballs
Bring 2 cups of water in a pan.  While the water comes to a boil, mix 2 cups of cornmeal and 1 cup of flour together in a bowl.  Add ½ package of gelatin to the boiling water (Daddy always used strawberry).  Now turn the burner down to low and add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring.  Now here’s the trick.  With a large spoon, cover the surface of the water with the cornmeal and flour mixture.  A bubble of water will come up.  Cover again.  Keep doing this until all the mixture is gone.  Stir the dough mixture for about 30 seconds.  Remove the pan from the stove and dump dough onto foil.  Knead the dough as soon as it’s cool enough, and then roll into a ball.  Wrap the dough in foil, and refrigerate.  This mixture is good for about a week. 
          Since we didn't catch Carp to eat, I can't really give you any good recipes to cook them.  But I am anxious to try some of the ones I have come across online.  Check these out yourself at  Or, if you have one of your own that you love, please pass along to me at  
          You can contact me by email at http:// with your latest best fishing story or any hints you would like to pass along.  I would also love to get photos of your biggest catches.  Together we’ll fish Lake Martin bringing in those big catches and telling even bigger stories!  Good Fishing!  ><> 

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