Category Archives: Carp Fishing

Anglers who fish for carp are probably the hardiest anglers amongst us. Apart from from the likes on the ‘Deadliest Catch’. Carp Fishing is a way of relaxing under the starts, waiting for that one take which could turn your peaceful fishing break into an almighty battle.

Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Do you dream of one day catching a carp so big it defies imagination?

Or a catfish so huge it makes every other fish you’ve ever caught look like a tiddler? And how about the legendary Arapaima, the ultimate freshwater predator and one of the biggest freshwater fish on the planet? Why not make your day dreams a reality with the angling trip of a lifetime?

We’re talking about Thailand – so pack your carp fishing gear, here’s our brief guide to this stunning tropical destination, home to some of the most monstrous freshwater fish in the world.

Why Thailand

Thailand Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Image source: Iakov Kalinin
A fisherman’s paradise.

The only country in South East Asia never to have been colonised, in the days of Empire, Thailand formed a buffer zone between the competing great powers of Britain and France. A constitutional monarchy, Thailand’s head of state, King Bhumibol has reigned since 9th June 1946, making him the longest serving monarch in the world.

Travel to Thailand and you’ll be treated to a welcome that’s hard to beat; it’s not for nothing that Thailand is called, the “land of smiles”. There you’ll find exquisite white sand beaches, teeming cities, a kaleidoscope of exotic street food, and most importantly, some of the best fishing in the world.

But do check the latest Foreign Office travel advice before you go. Attacks on tourists are rare but they do happen. In May this year, the Royal Thai military seized power and imposed martial law. Planned and spontaneous political protests in Bangkok and other major cities have turned violent. Tourists are currently advised to stay away from the South of the country as well some parts of the Eastern border with Cambodia – but if you heed advice, your trip should be a happy and trouble free experience.

Where should I go?

Jungle Fishing Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Image source: Patrick Foto
Fancy a spot of jungle fishing? Thailand’s your place.

Jungle fishing, river fishing, lake fishing – Thailand has it all. If you’re not ready to go it alone, you’ll find a plethora of fishing guides advertising their services online and many reputable companies that can lead you to the best fishing spots.

But do bear in mind that for all the majesty of its inland waters, Thailand’s rivers and lakes are seriously threatened by poor fishing practises, overfishing and pollution. Subsistence fishing is a necessity for many Thai families but large scale netting has greatly reduced fish populations in some areas. Fishing tourism provides a valuable income for local people and when fished responsibly, aquatic ecosystems may even benefit from the increased economic value your custom brings to the waters.

Keen to fit a fishing trip into a busy family holiday? You’re in luck. With over 300 fisheries within easy reach of the capital city, Bangkok, you’ll be spoilt for choice. But the quality of the experience does vary, with some fisheries being little more than fish farms that let you cast a line for a fee. Word of mouth is invaluable, and online you’ll find forums full of feedback on other people’s Thai carp fishing experiences. The message here is simple? Do your homework before you go.

What can I catch?

Now for the good bit! Thailand might be a longhaul flight away, but your first giant fish will more than make up for the 12 hours or more you spent sitting on a plane.

Thailand offers a multitude of species well worth catching, here are just a few of the biggest…

Giant Siamese carp

Giant barb Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Image source: Lerdsuwa via Wikimedia
The largest on record is 661 lbs.

The national fish of Thailand, the giant siamese carp is listed as critically endangered in the wild, but fishing parks are well stocked with captive fish. Don’t expect giant Siamese carp to give themselves up easily – you’ll need every bit of cunning to trap one of these monsters. And monstrous it really is – the biggest species of carp on the planet, the biggest ever recorded specimen was netted in the wild at a reported 300 kg or 661 lbs. While you probably won’t catch one of those proportions, 30 – 50 kgs is doable and some fishing parks contain fish closer to the 100 kg mark, but they are fiendishly difficult to catch.

Giant Mekong Catfish

Giant Mekong Catfish Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Image source: Ginkgo100 via Wikimedia
A local fisherman netted a 646 lb Giant Mekong Catfish.

Critically endangered, it’s illegal to fish for giant mekong catfish in the wild without special permits. Giant Mekong catfish is perhaps the biggest freshwater fish in the world – in 2005, one was netted by local fishermen at 646 lbs and sold – as a requirement of the village fishing association’s permit – to the Thai department of fisheries. The eggs were harvested but the fish died before it could be returned to the water, and was given back to the villagers to eat. Thanks to the government sponsored breeding program, many lakes in Thailand stock giant Mekong catfish, although sadly, the fish doesn’t breed in ponds. In captivity, a catch of 100lb would still be an experience to treasure for a lifetime.

Arapaima

Arapaima Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Image source: Cliff via Wikimedia
The largest ever caught is 339 lbs.

Native to the Amazon basin, Arapaima is revered as one of the biggest and most ferocious freshwater fish on the planet. The record for the biggest ever caught goes to a specimen landed in South America and stands at a colossal 339 lbs. Successfully introduced to the lakes and fishing parks of Thailand, they are notoriously fussy eaters. If you’re lucky enough to hook one, you’ll be in for one heck of a fight from what is one of the most wiley, aggressive fish out there. Good luck – you’ll need it!

Snake head

Snake head Want to catch big carp? Head to Thailand!

Image source: মৌচুমী via Wikimedia
Snake heads can grow up to 30 kg!

Razor sharp teeth, speed and aggression make this freshwater predator a pretty special catch for anglers visiting Thailand. Giant snake head grow up to about 30kg and because the fish favours underwater snags and sunken tree branches as the perfect place from which to ambush its prey, you’ll have to practise patience as well as accurate casting if you’re to get into one.

2015 TF Gear Babes Calendar

tfgearbabescalendar blog 2015 TF Gear Babes Calendar

It’s back! The ever impressive TF Gear Babes calendar has arrived at our warehouse and is ready for sale, along with a dozen beautiful images of our favourite babes, and carp of course!

It’s just 9 weeks until Christmas and many have started their shopping already, but what do you buy an angler who already has all the carp fishing tackle under the sun?

The 2015 TF Gear Babes calendar is the ideal stocking filler to spruce up an office, garage or fishing tackle room, with a beautiful babe holding Common and Mirror carp for every month of the year!

Price: Just £9.99!

Click here to purchase the TF Gear Babes Calendar!

TFGear Fishing Babes 2015 Calendar 1 2015 TF Gear Babes Calendar

7 Surprising carp facts

How well do you know your carp?

Here are some fun carp facts to help you become a font of carp wisdom.

1. Carp originate from the Black, Aral and Caspian Seas

Carp origin map 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Maps World
The carp is now endangered in their native waters.

The common carp has its origins in the Black, Aral and Caspian Sea basins. From there the species spread east into Siberia and China, and west into the Danube. The Romans were the first Europeans to farm carp, a practice that probably developed earlier and separately in China and Japan. The later spread of the fish throughout Europe, Asia and America is purely a product of human activity.

In the US, the Asian carp is a menace, devastating native fish populations, in Japan, the Koi carp is revered as an ornamental fish. Here in the UK, we love our carp and always put them back, travel to Eastern Europe and you’ll find them on the menu. Carp are plentiful everywhere, except their native waters, where they are now endangered.

2. They arrived in Britain in the 15th century

Treatsye of fysshynge wyth an angle 474x395 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Budden Brooks
“He is an evil fish to take.”

It wasn’t the Romans who brought carp to Britain. In fact, the fish hasn’t been here nearly as long as some might think. The first reference to the fish appears in the, “Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle.” There carp is described as:

“He is an evil fish to take. For he is so strongly armoured in the mouth that no light tackle may hold him.”

There is some debate as to when the manuscript of the Treatyse was first written – the text is late 1400s, but the introduction is almost certainly a copy of a 12th century manuscript – but the fact that Chaucer makes no mention of the fish in his 14th century works makes it likely that carp came onto the menu sometime in the 15th century.

3. Carp are part of the minnow family

Minnow family 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Fish Tanks
Who’d have thought the mighty carp was related to a minnow!

Carp can grow to monstrous proportions, but the fish we love to catch is actually, a minnow. The biggest carp ever caught (Guinness book of records) was a 94 lb common carp hooked by Martin Locke at Lac de Curton, France on 11th January 2010. He nicknamed the fish, Lockey’s Lump.

The reason why carp grow so big may be an evolutionary one. Carp don’t have a true stomach, instead, their intestine digests food as it travels its length. As a result, carp are constantly foraging for food. Eating a lot promotes growth, and growing quickly helps young fish avoid becoming prey. The result: a quick growing fish that eats a lot – potentially 30 –  40% of its body weight a day.

4. Carp caviar is popular in Europe and the US

Carp caviar 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Danube Caviar
Europe and the US can’t get enough carp caviar.

Carp was originally introduced to America in the 19th century as a cheap food source.  Overfishing of native species from rivers and lakes, as well as the appetites of European settlers encouraged the US department of fisheries to begin a concerted campaign to breed carp in 1877.

To begin with, carp were prized for the table, but over time, as they escaped into North American river systems, the fish became an invasive menace, out eating its native rivals and destroying fragile ecosystems. Carp are now hated, but nevertheless, like in Europe the US market for carp caviar is booming – proof that if you can’t beat it – you may as well eat it!

5. It’s tricky to know their gender (unless it’s mating season)

Carp gender 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Trekhrechie
“Hey Carl!”, “It’s Carly!”

Sexing your catch isn’t easy, especially outside of the mating season, but there are some clues about whether your prize specimen is a boy or a girl. First off, males tend (though not always) to be a little slimmer than females, and their genital opening is concave and less noticeable than that of the female, which is larger and may even protrude slightly.

During mating season, it’s a whole lot easier to tell male from female. Females’ abdomens swell with eggs and their genital enlarges to resemble a small fleshy tube. Males, meanwhile develop “tubercles”, small bony lumps around the head and gills, and they lose their mucus coating, becoming rough to the touch.

6. Carp are considered a good omen

Kwan yin carp 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Yunnan Adventure
A statue of Kwan-yin overlooking a natural water fish lake.

Some love nothing better than to set off for the pond, carp fishing rods in hand, others wouldn’t dream of catching their favorite koi. But whether you’re a European who loves to catch carp, or an Asian who rears them to look at, what we share is our love of carp and an ancient belief in the good fortune they bring.

The Christian tradition of eating fish on a Friday originates in the pagan mythology of the Norse and Germanic peoples of Europe. The day’s name comes from Freyja or perhaps Frigg, both goddesses, and possibly originally the same deity. Freyja was the goddess of fertility – and her symbol is the fish.

Travel east to China and you’ll find carp associated with the “Great Mother”, Kwan-yin. Associated with, among other things, rebirth and fertility, Kwan-yin is often depicted in the form of a fish.

7. Koi carp can fetch over a million dollars

Expensive koi fish 7 Surprising carp facts

Image source: Pets4Homes
Koi carp can fetch insane prices.

Japanese Koi carp are among the most expensive fish on the planet. A symbol of prosperity and status, it’s impossible to say exactly how much the most expensive fish are sold for since negotiations usually happen in private.

It’s thought that at the peak of the Koi “boom” in 1980s Japan, the most highly prized specimens could fetch as much as $1,000,000 – or around $2,800,000 in today’s money. The buyers were rich corporations who displayed their “catch” in ornamental tanks in office atria.

DIY carp fishing bait

What gets the fish biting at your local water? Chances are, you’ll have developed your own particular carp fishing tackle set-up – a unique combination that works for you.

But what about baits? From boilies to groundbaits, from floating, to sinking, there’s a plethora of commercial bait options out there. But nothing satisfies like making a great catch on a bait you’ve concocted yourself.  

Something of a dark art, making your own baits is fun and can save you money, and most, if not all the ingredients are available at your local supermarket. All you need to do is experiment until you hit the jackpot!

What carp want

Carp DIY carp fishing bait

Image source: The Session
Appeal to carp cravings for best results.

Think like a fish – appeal to its appetites and you’ll hook a beauty. The best baits attract because they’re tasty and nutritious; we’re talking bait ingredients that are energy rich and protein packed:

• Proteins
• Carbohydrates and starch
• Fats and oils
• Milk constituents
• White sugar
• Malt sugars and grains

Add colour and flavour and mix to a consistency that’ll either hold together well enough to hook, or that’ll disintegrate, providing a nutrient-rich soup to fish over.

Supermarket goodies

Cat food DIY carp fishing bait

Image source: Cats&Co
Cats and carp must have similar tastebuds!

For a floating feed that works wonders, use your catapult to ping dog biscuits into a small area of water; little and often is best as it provides a concentrated source of food the fish will congregate to compete over.

From the confectionary aisle, a marshmallow makes a great floating hook bait. Bobbing amongst the dog food, although a slightly different colour, the sweet, carb-loaded temptation is approximately the same shape and size, so it’s more likely to be wolfed down by an unsuspecting carp.

Alternatively, supermarket bread lasts well and it’s super cheap. Try a smear of marmite – just like humans, the fish will either love it or hate it!

A not so secret, secret weapon, cat food works a treat. Simply mash it up and pop it in the water before you drop in your meat bait. The soupy cloud of meaty mush is likely to prove irresistible to carp. Your hookbait could be a single hunk of cat food, a cube of luncheon meat or for added punch, why not try a piece of pepperoni?

Health food haven

Health food shop DIY carp fishing bait

Image source: Food Navigator
For health conscious carp!

Beans and pulses are the staple diet of students, hippies and new age travellers, but did you know carp love them too? For a homemade particle bait, soak chickpeas, kidney beans, maize, wheat, black eyed beans – whatever you like – in water for a day or two. Add a birdseed mix from your local pet shop and soak some more.

Cook for 30mins to make sure your mixture is nice and soft – and to ensure any kidney beans are safe for fish to eat – then blend half the mixture into a sticky paste. Mix it all together and you have a killer bait you can make in bulk and that won’t cost a fortune.

DIY boilies

DIY boilies DIY carp fishing bait

Image source: French Carp and Cats
Boil up your own tempting treats.

Flour, semolina and eggs are the bedrock from which to make your own unique boilies. Sports supplements like whey protein powder and casein will make your boilie mix super nutritious, help ingredients to bind, and add attractive smells to the water. When you’ve mixed all your ingredients into a stiff paste, simple roll into balls and boil!

To make your boilies a taste sensation irresistible to the biggest, wiliest carp in the lake, you need an attractant that’s different to the run of the mill flavours out there. How you decide on your final concoction is up to you, but while you’re stirring your carp equivalent of ‘love potion number nine’, consider adding any or all of the following ingredients:

• Liver powder, paste, or pate
• Anchovies
• Beef or yeast extract
• Garlic
• Cheese
• Fruit juice
• Honey or sugar

We’d love to hear what you add to your homemade baits, so if you’ve got a recipe you’d like to share, do get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Dave Lane Lands the 55lb Burghfield Common!

Well here it is – The Amazing capture of the 55lb Common Carp by our TF Gear consultant Dave Lane!

Many of you would have already seen the capture on Facebook and our various social networks, but such a fish is worth seeing more than once, don’t you think?

Dave mentioned to us that this magnificent fish was caught using the new TF Gear N-Tec Carp rod. On this particular range of carp rods we’ve been working closely with Dave to produce a responsive and accurate – A true casting tool. The N-Tec rods are high-modulous carbon and feature high quality components all round. Paired with the N-tec, Dave use the TF Gear PitBull Big Pit Free spool reel – An outstanding ‘big carp’ tackle combination.

 Here’s a few pictures of the 55lb Burghfiled Common.

IMG 6586 Dave Lane Lands the 55lb Burghfield Common!

IMG 6598 Dave Lane Lands the 55lb Burghfield Common!

IMG 6599 Dave Lane Lands the 55lb Burghfield Common!

Beginners guide to carp fishing

Are you new to carp fishing? Thinking of taking up the sport? Or perhaps someone you know wants the low down on how to get started.

Here we’ve put together a guide to carp fishing for beginners.

Just the very basics to get you started – be warned – you’ll soon be hooked!  

The catch

Carp Beginners guide to carp fishing

Image source: Fish on Friday
This is what you’re after!

You’re after carp – one of the most exciting, challenging and maddening fish it’s possible to catch on rod and line. Common, mirror or grass carp to name but three varieties is a wide family of freshwater fish indigenous to Europe and Asia. During the middle ages, they were introduced to Britain and farmed by monks for their tasty flesh.

Inevitably, some escaped into rivers, ponds and lakes, where they thrived. Thanks to their power, strength and wily ways, carp were long considered almost uncatchable. With modern carp fishing tackle and baits, you could be in with a chance – but you’ve got to get it right…

Rod licence

new rod licence Beginners guide to carp fishing

Image source: Bath Angling
Make sure you stay above board.

First things first. if you want to fish without the fear of being tapped on the shoulder by one of the guys from the Environment Agency, make sure you’re the proud owner of an up to date rod licence. You need one to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish – including carp, smelt and eel with a rod and line in England (except the River Tweed), Wales or the Border Esk region of Scotland.

To get a licence, simply pop along to your local post office and pay over the counter. You don’t need to wait for the licence to come through, just keep the receipt to hand in case you’re asked. A full licence costs £27 at the time of writing, however, if you’re just giving carp fishing a try, a one day licence costs just £3.75.

Choosing a water

carp lake Beginners guide to carp fishing

Image source: Cottington Lakes
Opt for a lake with lots of smaller fish.

We all want to catch a big fish, but the truth is, the bigger the fish grows, the wiser it gets. Some of the specimen lakes offer beasts well over twenty years old. In fact the oldest ever recorded carp was ‘Raspberry’, denizen of Redmire Pools in Herefordshire who it’s thought lived to the ripe old age of 67. Old, wise fish are hard to fool and as a beginner, who wants to spend the day on the bank without so much as a bite?

Newbies are better off heading for somewhere that stocks a larger number of smaller fish, say around the 5 – 10 lb range. Catching bigger carp takes knowledge and experience, but put in the hours and you’ll be on your way to being a match for the big’un.

Tooling up

It is true that a bad workman always blames his tools, but if you’re new to carp fishing, the last thing you want is to spend good money on the wrong rod and reel. Do check out our Youtube channel for some expert advice on buying the right equipment.

1. Choosing a rod

2. Choosing a reel

3. Choosing clothing

Never underestimate the vagaries of the British weather – many a good day’s fishing is ruined by insufficient or inappropriate inner and outer wear. But that miserable soul, perched on the bank, sweltering or shivering needn’t be you. Here’s a short video guide to what to wear to the swim – you’ll look like a pro!

The right rig

The intricacies of what fishing tackle to buy and use is a vast subject, and not one we believe should overly concern the novice carp fisherman or woman. Instead, we recommend you start out with a good allround line like, TF Gear GS Carp Line. A leader like this TF Gear Nantec Mono will see you right. Hook wise, you’re looking at the Nash Fang X – add a boilie and boilie stop, a piece of braid and a lead and you’re in business. One of the simplest rigs of all is the ‘hair rig’ – here’s how to tie it:

Casting

You’re kitted up, you’ve assembled your rig, now all you need to do is launch that tackle into the water and wait for the fish to come biting. Right? Well – partially. Where you put that bait is key, and there’s no better way to find the sweet spot of your local water than by asking around. The staff of  the lakeside bait shop, other anglers – ask for a little advice and listen to what’s said. Then make your own mind up. You’ll learn watercraft by osmosis – but be patient because the ways of  the water aren’t discovered overnight.

Now for a guide to casting – you’re nearly there!

Bivvy

We saved the second best bit for near the end. Set your bait alarm, and head to your bivvy for a brew. Not sure which bivvy is best? Take a look at this:

The best bit

You bite alarm goes off! What do you do next? Our top tip – take a deep breath, calm that sudden burst of adrenaline. You might have hooked a fish, but you haven’t yet brought it to the bank. The drag on your reel should be set so if the fish lunges or runs, it will take line rather than tear the hook from its lip. Now keep the rod tip low, and play your fish. Think gentle pressure because wrenching the rod, or winding like a madman won’t help the hook stay set, and it’ll stress the fish too. Instead bring your catch to the bank at a steady pace, and net it as quickly (and as gently) as you can.

Unhook your fish while it’s in the net, and carefully place it on a handling mat. To pick up the monster for a snap, place one hand under its tail, and the other under its fin closest to the mat. Lift keeping the fish close to your body – but don’t stand with the fish unless it’s in the net – they’re mighty slippery, and you don’t want to drop it. Now to put the fish back where it belongs. Place the carp in the water holding it gently by the tail until it’s ready to swim away. Now wipe the proud tear from your eye – you’re a carp angler!

5 Fish that fought back

We all like a fish to put up a good fight, and sometimes the fish wins. But there’s winning and there’s winning.

Here we’ve scoured the archives to come up with some of the cheekiest, meanest and most bad ass fish ever to take the bait – the fish that fought back.

1. Cheeky carp thief

carp 5 Fish that fought back

Image source: Credit Valley Conservation
Swallows and Amazons author, Arthur Ransome, had his tackle stolen!

Catching carp used to be a rarity. Writing in his lovely book, Fishing’s Strangest Days, Tom Quinn explains that prior to the evolution of modern carp fishing rods and tackle, carp were often considered almost uncatchable. He quotes Swallows and Amazons author, Arthur Ransome’s 1910 account of an encounter with one of the mythical beasts…

Hooked late in the day, a carp took his bait and took off at a blistering pace, snapping the writer’s line about two feet above the float. Ransome stood in astonishment as he watched his lost float start to skim through the water. When it was beneath where he stood the carp flashed a flank and was gone. He later wrote that the carp returned his tackle as if to say, “Not a bad first attempt, do try again.”

2. Bye bye boat

wreck 5 Fish that fought back

Image source: Prime Scuba
Was it the marlin or dodgy driving?

Was it driver error that sank a sports boat off the coast of Panama in February last year, or the huge black marlin one of the anglers on board was trying to capture? It seems the truth will forever remain a mystery.

The boat manufacturer puts the blame on the driver, alleging that while the boat was going astern, he slipped at the controls and pulled the throttle lever, burying the boat’s stern under a wave.

But perhaps the fish also played a role. It certainly was a big one. Either way, the boat sank and the crew had to be rescued. Another example of the fish getting its own back, it was later sighted doing a victory leap.

3. Right in the ribs

Jose Salvador Benitez 5 Fish that fought back

Image source: Pisces Fleet
Benitez, pictured at the rear, has learnt to “never grab an angry merlin” the hard way.

An experienced sports fisherman, Salvador Benitez was the 24-year-old mate on board a leisure fishing boat out of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific coast of Mexico. One day he was helping take a party out to fish the rich coastal waters. After hooking several dorado, he spotted the tail of a Marlin, and cast a lure in its direction. The fish took the bait on the first cast, and Salvador duly handed the rod to one of the anglers.

As Marlin fights go, it was uneventful, until, that is, the fish was brought alongside. Sensing danger, it leapt out of the water and skewered Benitez in the side. The marlin managed to ram its bill between two of the hapless Mexican’s ribs, piercing his pleura and puncturing his lung. The moral of the story, Salvador said on return from the hospital, was, ‘never grab an angry marlin.’ You said it!

4. Painful nose job

nose job 5 Fish that fought back

Image source: Wikimedia
This pike had a penchant for noses!

Imagine one pike angler’s surprise when he lifted a 28 inch specimen from the water and, striking a pose for the camera, went to kiss it. The pike latched onto his nose! The Russian fisherman’s friends lept to his aid, but despite beheading the unfortunate fish, its jaws remained firmly locked in place. In fact, it took the doctors at the local hospital to prise it loose.

According to a report in the Californian newspaper, the Lodi News Sentinel, the Russians had been ice fishing about 60 miles northwest of Moscow when the incident occurred. The moral of the story? Don’t stick your nose where its not wanted!

5. Goldfish vs. Cat

If you’re a goldfish, there can be few things worse than being the victim of repeated fishing expeditions by the household cat. But in a David and Goliath style encounter, one fish fought back. Check out the video to see what happened next!

Valentines Day under the sea

February is the time of year for romance.

Think chocolates, red roses, and a candlelit meal for two. Yes, Valentine’s day is upon us and with it the opportunity for love – or a least a card from your mum.

For avid anglers, it’s also perhaps the one day of the year when in the interests of marital harmony it might be best to leave your carp fishing tackle in the cupboard.

But while we’re in a romantic frame of mind, we thought we’d take a fish’s eye view of the mating game. Just how do fish do it?

Love nest

Cichlids sandcastle Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Kocher Lab
The cichlid’s sandcastle pad

A cichlid’s sandcastle is his love nest. In the attempt to attract a mate these African lake dwelling fish build up a carefully designed pile of sand that they defend from other males. The sandcastle pad is both a place to mate and somewhere to look after the eggs until they hatch.

Scientists studying the fish discovered that if they modified the shape of the nest or ‘bower’, the male it belonged to had less fights with other fish and was more likely to attract a female. Cichlid ladies it seems, are most attracted to a man who’s not afraid to show a bit of individuality.

Clingy partner

Angler fish Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Fishes of Australia
Mini male angler fish latch on to females

The ultimate clinger on, the male angler fish administers a love bite that lasts. Because of the difficulty in finding a mate in the deep dark abyss, some species of male angler fish have developed the ability to literally become one with their mate.

Males use well their highly sensitive sense of smell to locate a female and bite into her skin. His mouth produces enzymes that digest both their flesh. The two fish grow into each other, the male living off the blood supply of the female. As a survival strategy it’s spot on. Whenever the female feels like reproducing, she has a mate ready to fertilise her eggs.

Top lady

clown fish Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Wikipedia
In clown fish land, ladies rule

In clown fish communities, who gets to mate is all based on pecking order. Top fish is a female – the biggest and bossiest of the group. She only mates with one male fish. All the others have to wait their turn. When the leading female dies or is taken out by a predator, the top male changes sex to become the matriarch, and all the male fish below move up one notch.

As to when clown fish mate – the female waits for the silvery light of the full moon before laying her eggs on flat surfaces amid the garden of anemones where she lives. Who said romance was dead?

Chain reaction

sea hare Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Sea hares have both male and female organs
Hermaphrodites who like a lot of love

Sea hares are gastropods with a soft bodies and internal shells. They’re a sort of shell-less sea snail. They can grow quite large – up to 75cm long and 2 kg in weight – and their long protruding nostrils prompted the romans to name them after the land animal.

When it comes to reproduction, sea hares are interesting because they have male organs at one end, female at the other. And when they mate, several of the creatures often link together, sometimes forming a circle of love.

Painful love

nautilus live Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: William Patterson University
The male’s reproductive tentacle is broken off

The argonaut or paper nautilus is an octopus that resides in tropical waters. The female grows up to 10cm in length but creates a delicate calcite shell up to 30cm in diameter. The shell doubles as both a home and a brood chamber for eggs.

Mating with one of the tiny 2cm males of the species is an interesting process in that the male’s reproductive tentacle is broken off and presented to the female in its live, wriggling state.

Cupid

Giant Squid Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Funny Junk
Fear not, this one’s a hoax!

Not much is known about how giant squid reproduce. For a long time scientists interested in discovering the mechanics of the creature’s mating process were baffled as to how males delivered their sperm to females.

But then a female specimen was found in Tasmania which may hold the answer to the riddle. Scientists examining the creature found dart-like tendrils attached to each of her legs. It seems possible that males shoot ‘love darts’ at their mates, injecting sperm through the female’s skin.

Invent your own fish

Recent news has revealed the discovery of a new fish species — arapaima leptosoma — which is native to the Amazon in Brazil.

The fish is the first entirely new species of the huge arapaima family discovered since 1847, for which only a single species was believed to have existed for the last 166 years.

Arapaimas can grow up to 3 metres long and weigh as much as 200 kilos, so the new species didn’t exactly slip through the net. It only highlights the focus and dedication required to raise fish conservation efforts. The new discovery prompted us to wonder what else is out there in the big blue. Here’s some unlikely efforts we dreamed up (feel free to contribute your own ideas).

Hoover fish (humus nimia satietas)

Plastic underwater Invent your own fish

A fish that cleans the ocean? Yes please!
Source: Electrolux

Two of the biggest threats to sea life are overfishing and pollution, so imagine a huge bottom feeder that digested massive amounts of rubbish and pollution clogging up our seas and rivers.

Nearly as big as a blue whale, the hoover fish would provide much needed assistance to a dirty problem.

Golden-gilled ghost carp  (M. Spiritu carpere)

Gold Invent your own fish

Fame and riches for whoever hooks this carp
Source: UnJournalism

Very much the fish of choice for many anglers, carps can be challenging to hook and are highly prized. But we all need a holy grail in our lives and there needs to be something out there that provides a fearsome challenge for our carp fishing rod.

Say hello to the golden-gilled carp — a 60kilo carp species incredibly hard to find and a fish that provides huge fame for the fisherman that hooks it.

Mouse marlin (mus marlin)

marlin Invent your own fish

The problem with marlin? Too elusive.
Source: Paradise Outfitters

Fast, strong and elusive, select species of marlin are considered to provide the pinnacle of offshore sport fishing. Big blue marlins put up one hell of a fight and have inspired many sport fishermen, but like lots of other species, black and blue marlins are in decline.

Threatened primarily by commercial fishing, it’d be brilliant if there were a breed of marlin renowned for its exceptionally fast breeding (and growing) rates. So fast that is has been nicknamed the mouse marlin.

Sea chicken (quis maris)

chicken Invent your own fish

A few gills here, a fin there, we can see it!
Source: Wikimedia

Humanity’s appetite for tuna is incredible and it’s mainstream appeal along with its meaty texture has resulted in it being nicknamed the chicken of the sea. Yet it’s a matter of time before demand outgrows supply, which is likely to result in tuna being an unaffordable luxury for poorer families.

If only there was an alternative like the tasty and abundant sea chicken (a fish incredibly similar to a chicken, but still a fish).

Pearl Catcher (margaritam aucupe)

pearls Invent your own fish

A fish with a bonus
Source: AAA Pearls

Not to be mistaken for the commensal pearl fish, which is known to live inside clams and starfish, the pearl catcher is a speedy little fish renowned for its snatch and run routine on the mollusc community.

Unable to properly digest the pearls it steals, the pearl catcher keeps its booty in its stomach until it is caught by a lucky fisherman. Now there’s a nice thought.

Dave Lane New Years Carp Fishing Video Diary

What could be better than fishing your way into the new year? Follow Dave Lane in his first carp fishing video diary of 2014! In the two part diary, Dave describes (again) the advantages of moving pegs when things aren’t really going your way.

There’s some great tips in both of these carp diaries, including how to  choose the correct carp setup and also how to detect if the fish are high in the water.

Part 1

Part 2

Check out the unbelievable underwater footage from Dave’s new GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition!