Why Do Carp Jump Out of the Water?

why do carp jump out of the water?

Different species of fish jump out of the water for various reasons. Some common reasons carp species leap out of the water include to clean themselves, and to feed. This is just a short version of the answer, but we will cover this in more detail below. Read to learn more about why carp jump out of the water.


One of the most apparent reasons why carp jump out of the water is because they are cleaning any debris that may still be stuck in their gills.

Carp are bottom feeders that feed off the lake bed. As they do this, feeding carp also suck in particles such as dirt and debris from the silt that are taken up in their gills. Over time, there is a buildup of debris in their gills. Carp jumping out of the water allows water to run through their gills and wash out any built-up mud and silt.

Apart from cleaning mud and silt buildup, jumping carp may also try to rid themselves of parasites such as leeches that commonly bother them, particularly following the winter months. The force with which they jump and hit the water scrubs the parasites from their bodies.

carp jumping out of water
Carp jumping is often a result of them trying to clean their gills

Changing Swimming Levels

Carp fish also jump out of the water when they need to adjust their swimming level. Since carp have swim bladders that can control buoyancy in the water and the level at which they swim. The swim bladder is connected to the esophagus, and by jumping out of the water, the fish can vary the pressure in the bladder; they can rise further up or swim lower than they currently are.

When they jump out of the water and force air in or out of the bladder through the esophagus, it allows depth adjustment. However, it is crucial to note that carp do not break to the surface each time they have to change levels. Otherwise, you would see them jumping out of the water all the time.

Types of Carp Jumps

If you enjoy carp angling, you may benefit from knowing what each jump means. For example, does the carp symbolise feeding fish, or are they trying to rid themselves of parasites?

Read on as we discuss the different types of jumps that you will notice when carp fishing.


Crashing happens when the fish leaps out of the water and comes crashing down the water surface, causing a splash of water.

Anglers believe that this type of jump is used for cleaning their gills in preparation for feeding. Alternatively, a good splash can help the fish eliminate any parasites sticking to their bodies.

Crashing over a silty area of the lake could be a sure indication that some feeding is taking place on that spot.

Either way, crashing like this is one of the easiest indicators of where fish are in your lake, so sticking a rig on their heads is a great place to start!

Head and Shouldering

This type of jump happens in such a way that you only spot the head and shoulders of the fish on the water’s surface. Usually, the splash is not as strong as a fish trying to rid itself of parasites.

These are often harder to spot, but if you are angling you would want to cast a bait in this area.

Carp jumping over my baited spot!


Rolling happens on the surface. When it does, you will notice that there is no splash. It’s hard to know whether this is an indicator of carp feeding or not. Some suggest that this is a more common activity of fish moving to another area of the lake. In which case, you may want to try to judge their direction and set up in an an area ready for their arrival.

Either way, it will alert you to their presence and it’s always a good place to start. Just be sure to check whether this is not a sign of carp spawning.

Head Poking

You are also likely to notice the heads of the fish breaking the surface of the water. This is usually a sign of active behaviour and could indicate carp feeding in your swim.

Quite often you will see larger carp poking their heads and shoulders out. This is most likely them trying to crash out fully but being unable to generate the momentum to do so.

Like the other carp activity we’ve noted above, you should investigate this area more and cast to any showing fish.


Some reasons carp will jump out of the water include getting rid of silt and mud from their gills and ridding themselves of parasites. They will jump in different ways depending on what they are doing.

Overall, spotting carp jump is a fundamental factor in good watercraft and will often set you on the path of where to fish on your chosen venue.

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