Carp VS Catfish – Similarities, Differences, and Everything To Know

Carp and catfish are some of the most popular fish species out there. Anglers love catching them, and many people eat them. However, there has been much speculation about whether carp and catfish are that similar.

So, are carp and catfish different? Carp and catfish are different. They belong to two completely different species. However, they do have some similarities.

Here’s a quick overview of carp vs catfish:

AspectCarpCatfish
Physical DifferencesSmall whiskers
More individual scales
They grow larger in body mass
Larger whiskers
No scales
They grow in both directions
HabitatThey prefer moving water in lakes and riversThey prefer to stay beneath currents in in lakes, rivers, and saltwater
Best Fishing Times and SeasonsSpring season in the early morning, early evening, or nightSpring season from sunrise until 10 AM
Baits and Lures Baits: sweet corn, bread, and nightcrawlers
Lures: soft plastics with natural-looking grubs, minnows, and hard body lures
Baits: gizzard shad, skipjack herring, stinkbait, bluegills, chicken livers
Lures: vibrating lures such as Whisker Seeker Tackle Catfish Lure
Taste DifferencesMuddy tasteSweet taste (tastier than carp)
Health BenefitsThey have lean proteins and omega-3 fatty acidsThey lean protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids

Keep reading to learn more about the differences and similarities between carp and catfish.

Carp Vs Catfish – An Overview of the Differences

There are many differences between carp and catfish in terms of physical appearance, habitat, diet, health benefits, etc. Many beginner anglers often get confused, so we will break down all the differences as well as the similarities between the two species.

Physical Differences

Catfish and carp have unique physical characteristics that make it easy for anglers to tell them apart.

Catfish have much larger whiskers than carp do. Catfish have whiskers that are closer to their mouths than carps have. These whiskers make it easy for catfish to go after their prey, which means that they are handy when it comes to locating your bait.

When it comes to scales, carp tend to have a lot of individual scales on their bodies. Some breeds are even covered in them.

Catfish, on the other hand, do not have scales. Their bodies are slimy, their flesh is thick, and they come in different colors, depending on what type of catfish they are.

They are different in the way they grow as well. Carp tend to grow larger in terms of body mass without getting too long, while catfish grow in both directions.

Habitat

Carp usually prefer moving waters. They travel and swim a lot through rivers. You will usually find carp bunched up together in a group of five or six. They mainly swim in lakes and rivers. Carp are known to be active swimmers and enjoy traveling together.

Catfish prefer to stay beneath currents. That is where they usually wait for their prey. Catfish usually expect their prey to emerge from the currents. Catfish, like carp, also swim mainly in lakes and rivers. They can also be found in saltwater.

Best Fishing Times and Seasons

For carp, the best season to fish would be spring. A lot of types of fish prefer to bite during warmer weather. The biggest types of carp usually move through shallow bottom bays in lakes and river banks. The best time to fish for carp would be early morning, early evening, or night. Carp are not picky.

For catfish, the best season would also be spring. This is usually when the water temperatures for catfish are perfect for them to bite. Catfish tend to be more active in warm weather. The best time of day to fish for catfish would be from sunrise until 10 AM. Catfish bite all day long, however.

Baits and Lures

The best bait to use for carp includes sweet corn, bread, and nightcrawlers. For bigger types of carp, it is best to use hard-boiled baits. For lures, anglers tend to go for soft plastics with natural-looking grubs, minnows, and hard body lures. Learn more about the best lures for carp here.

For catfish, on the other hand, the best baits to use include gizzard shad, skipjack herring, stinkbait, bluegills, chicken livers, and many more. Catfish are not picky and will eat almost anything. As for lures, anglers use vibrating lures such as Whisker Seeker Tackle Catfish Lure.

Taste Differences

Many people have stated that it is harder to eat carp than catfish. People have said that carp tend to have more of a muddy taste. The most important tip for cooking carp is to put it on ice as soon as you catch it; that way, it could be more edible when cooked.

Catfish are a tastier type of fish to eat, according to many. Although not the best type of fish to eat, they are still better tasting than carp. People have stated that they have more of a sweet taste, but their taste is not too strong. In addition, they are also very healthy.

Health Benefits

Carp is healthy to eat and has a good source of nutrients. They have lean proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. These acids play a positive role in one’s cardiac functions, and they reduce the risk of heart attacks. Carp is one of the best sources of these acids.

Catfish is also a healthy fish to eat. They contain healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, and they are rich full of lean protein. They have vitamin B12 and, like carp, contain omega-3 fats. Dry heat cooking catfish is better than deep-frying them. Deep-frying adds unnecessary calories.

Are Carp and Catfish Related?

Catfish and carp are not related. They both belong to different fish families. Carp belong to the family Cyprinidae, which is a large group of fish that is mainly found in Asia and Europe.

Catfish belong to the Ictaluridae family, which contains a wide range of different types of catfish.

Does Carp Taste like Catfish?

As mentioned earlier, carp and catfish have different tastes. There is a way to cook carp to make them taste better, but people do not usually tend to go for carp. Carp has a more muddy taste, while catfish have a more meaty, sweet taste.

Catfish are also known to have a dense texture when it is cooked. They are also not as flaky as most white meat fish.

Catfish usually absorb whatever seasonings are added. On the other hand, carp are not as pleasant. The only way to make it so is to put it on ice as soon as it is caught.

Does Catfish Eat Carp?

Catfish eat carp. They are naturally hungry and aggressive feeders. They will eat almost anything in their way as long as it is edible. Likewise, they also eat many different types of fish, including sunfish, bluegill, shad, crayfish, and bass. Carp is one of catfish’s favorite fish to eat. 

Can You Use Carp as Catfish Bait?

Carp can be used as bait for catfish. They are one of the best types of live bait that anglers prefer to use when catching catfish. Anglers say that carp can be very good to use as bait, especially during fall. It seems that catfish feed on carp more often during cooler weather.

There is no doubt that carp and catfish are similar. However, they are both extremely unique in their own way. Anglers enjoy fishing for both. If you are a beginner angler, however, it is best to aim for catfish since they are more aggressive feeders, while carp tend to be more challenging. 

Related Questions

Is Catfish Good to Eat?

Catfish is good to eat since it is packed with a lot of vitamins that are useful for humans. Although not the best-tasting fish out there, catfish are a great source of fatty acids such as omega-3. They contain a good amount of protein as well as vitamin B12.

Can You Cook Carp?

Carp can be cooked. It can be baked as a whole or in pieces. It should be slathered in something like lemon butter. Carp can also be deep-fat dried. To do this, you can put it in batter and put it in hot oil until it is crisp. There are many ways and recipes to cook carp that can be found online.

Do Catfish Taste Good?

Catfish taste good enough for people to eat. The flavor of catfish is pretty mild and a little sweet. Catfish meat is moist and dense when it is cooked. Their taste has been compared to flounder, tilapia, and haddock. If you like the taste of these types of fish, catfish might be the one for you.

Helpful Resources

Types of Catfish

Types of Carp

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve tested dozens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightweight, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d have a wide selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looking for a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be getting two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the strongest, toughest mono I’ve ever tested and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t find better options

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