Discover the Largest Carp Ever Caught in Texas

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: July 3, 2023
© malgosia janicka/
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Key Points:

  • The largest carp ever caught in Texas weighed a staggering 90 pounds.
  • Timothy Conner successfully reeled in this massive bighead carp, measuring 55.5 inches in length.
  • The remarkable catch took place at Kirby Lake on July 22, 2000, with Conner utilizing a rod and reel and using cut carp as bait.

Carp, belonging to the Cyprinidae family, is a versatile group of freshwater fish originally from Asia and Europe, now widespread globally. These medium-sized to large fish have robust bodies and barbels near their mouths, which aid in their search for food in murky waters.

Common carp, one of the most recognized species, can grow up to 40 inches long and weigh as much as 88 pounds, though typical catches by anglers usually range between 5-30 pounds.

In Texas, carp fishing is more than just a hobby—it’s a cherished sport. Introduced to Texas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for sport and aquatic vegetation control, carp have flourished in the state’s diverse aquatic habitats.

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Today, we discover the largest carp ever caught in Texas. We also delve into the intricate world of carp fishing in Texas. Beyond that, we explore the different carp species present in the state, examine their dietary habits, and unpack the predators they face. Finally, we’ll address their distribution across Texas and point out the top fishing locations in the state.

The Largest Carp Ever Caught in Texas

Fishing background. Young man hold big carp in his hands.
Carp are not always small fish, as some individuals can reach up to and above 75 pounds.


The largest carp ever caught in Texas weighed 90 pounds. Timothy Conner caught the 55.5-inch-long bighead carp at Kirby Lake on July 22, 2000, by rod and reel using cut carp as bait.

The Largest Carp Ever Caught in the World

Carp fishing, a popular pastime, frequently results in the capture of sizable fish, given their wide-ranging habitats. As a result, the stories of anglers catching large carp are ubiquitous, with each country chronicling these accounts in their unique way. In some instances, only photographs serve as proof of these big catches, whereas at other times, official validation is available.

A British angler, John Harvey, made headlines when he hooked a massive 232-pound Siamese carp while fishing in Thailand. The struggle to reel in this enormous fish lasted approximately 80 minutes.

Interestingly, a similar incident took place in the same waters in 2016, with the release of a 222-pound Siamese carp. Some speculate that these two catches could be of the same fish. The Siamese carp, an endangered and rarely seen species, can grow significantly larger than other carp species, with Harvey’s catch exemplifying this by weighing twice as much as other large carp.

Types of Carp in Texas

There are several species of carp that call Texas home. Each has unique characteristics that make them interesting not just to the scientific community but also to anglers.

Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

Common carp, known for their bronzed bodies and distinct barbels on each side of their mouths, can grow quite large, often exceeding 30 inches in length and 30 pounds in weight.

Adaptable to a wide range of conditions, common carp thrive in various water bodies, from large rivers and lakes to small ponds.

Due to their resilience and potential size, common carp are a popular choice for anglers. In addition, their strong fights when hooked offer a challenge that many fishing enthusiasts relish.

Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

grass carp
Common to many rivers and lakes in Texas are grass carp.

©Vladimir Wrangel/

Grass carp, also known as the ‘aquatic lawnmower’, are elongated and can display a silver-gray color. They can grow significantly large, with some specimens weighing more than 60 pounds.

As biological control agents for aquatic vegetation, grass carp are widely populous in Texas waters where plant overgrowth is an issue.

Grass carp’s plant-based diet makes them a challenging catch, but successfully hooking one of these strong fish is a memorable achievement for any angler.

Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)

Silver Carp, hypophthalmichthys molitrix underwater view
Several major river systems in Texas serve as home to silver carp.


Silver carp have a tendency to leap out of the water when disturbed. They have a silver color and can reach substantial sizes, sometimes exceeding 100 pounds.

Silver carp prefer larger, slow-moving rivers and connected lakes. In Texas, they live in several major river systems.

While not a primary target for most anglers due to their filter-feeding diet, silver carp’s large size and dramatic jumping behavior make encounters with this species an interesting experience.

Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)

bighead carp
As is typical among bottom feeders, the bighead carp has eyes facing downward.


As the name implies, bighead carp have disproportionately large heads. They also have a mottled appearance and, like their silver carp cousins, can grow to impressive sizes.

Bighead carp favor large, slow-moving rivers and lakes. As a result, sightings of them are common in several of Texas’ larger river systems.

Though they are not the top target for anglers due to their feeding habits, the sheer size of bighead carp makes catching one a noteworthy event.

Diet of Carp in Texas

The carp species found in Texas have varied diets that reflect their different ecological roles. 

Common Carp

Common carp have particularly opportunistic feeding habits. They also have a diverse diet that includes plant matter, insects, crustaceans, and other small aquatic organisms. Unfortunately, their feeding habits can be somewhat destructive, as they often uproot vegetation and stir up sediment in their search for food.

Carp tend to feed in the bottom sediments of water bodies, using their barbels to detect food items. However, they also feed at the surface, especially in warmer weather.

Grass Carp

As their name suggests, grass carp primarily consume plant matter.

Grass carp focus on aquatic plants and submerged vegetation, with their dietary preferences playing a significant role in aquatic ecosystem management.

These carp species actively seek out and consume plant matter, contributing to the control of aquatic vegetation in water bodies where they reside.

Silver Carp

Silver carp have a unique diet compared to other carp species. They are filter feeders, consuming mainly phytoplankton and small zooplankton. This feeding behavior has significant implications for the food web in their habitats.

These fish filter food particles from the water column as they swim, often in large schools. Their feeding can impact the availability of food for other species, affecting overall ecosystem dynamics.

Bighead Carp

Bighead carp share some dietary habits with silver carp. They are also filter feeders, but they consume a higher proportion of zooplankton, including small crustaceans and larval insects.

Like silver carp, bighead carp filter food from the water as they swim. However, their preference for zooplankton can lead to competition with native fish species that rely on the same food sources.

Predators of Carp in Texas

Understanding the predators of carp in Texas provides essential insights into the population dynamics and survival strategies of these versatile fish. Predation influences not only individual survival but also the broader ecosystem balance.

Natural Predators

Ospreys have excellent vision and can detect underwater objects from the air. They catch fish by diving underwater, either foot first or by submerging their whole bodies.


Predation by other wildlife forms an integral part of the life of a carp, with threats varying according to their size, age, and species.

  • Fish Predators: In their early life stages, carp are vulnerable to predation from several larger fish species. Bass, catfish, and northern pike often prey on young carp. As carp grow larger, smaller predatory fish pose less of a threat, but bigger species, including some large catfish like the blue catfish and flathead catfish, continue to be potential predators. In specific Texas waters, the presence of American alligators also adds to the list of natural predators.
  • Avian Predators: Various bird species also target carp, particularly during their juvenile stage. Herons and cormorants are adept at spotting and catching juvenile carp. Larger birds of prey, including ospreys and bald eagles, occasionally prey on adult carp, making the skies just as perilous for carp as the water below.

Human Predation

Humans exert a significant influence on carp populations in Texas, primarily through recreational and commercial fishing.

  • Recreational Fishing: Anglers frequently target carp species for sport. The common carp, with its wide distribution and fighting spirit when hooked, is a popular choice. However, some anglers also seek out other species, such as grass carp, silver carp, and bighead carp, although these species can pose different angling challenges.
  • Commercial Fishing: On a commercial scale, fishers harvest carp for various uses, including consumption in certain food markets and as a source of fishmeal. Commercial fishing operations, while regulated, can exert significant pressure on carp populations.

Distribution of Carp in Texas

Preferred habitats, human activity, and environmental conditions influence the distribution of carp species in Texas. Different species thrive in various locations, contributing to the diversity of the state’s aquatic ecosystems.

Common Carp

Common carp are widespread across Texas, reflecting their adaptability to different aquatic environments.

You can find common carp in almost all types of water bodies across Texas. These range from small ponds and streams to large rivers and reservoirs, especially those with slow-moving waters and soft, muddy bottoms.

Their high tolerance for different water conditions, including various temperatures and levels of oxygen and salinity, contributes to the common carp’s widespread distribution.

Grass Carp

The presence of grass carp in Texas is primarily due to their role in managing aquatic vegetation.

Grass carp are teeming in various bodies of water across Texas, where the overgrowth of aquatic plants is a concern. They are especially common in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs with abundant vegetation.

As an introduced species for biological control of aquatic plants, grass carp’s distribution is primarily determined by human management decisions.

Silver Carp

While they’re not as widespread as common or grass carp, silver carp have established populations in several Texas water systems. In fact, they have been reported in a few of the state’s major river systems, particularly those connected to large lakes or reservoirs.

These fish prefer larger, slow-moving waters. Their establishment in new areas often results from human activities, such as unintentional release from aquaculture facilities.

Bighead Carp

Like silver carp, bighead carp reside in several major river systems in Texas. They favor large rivers and connected lakes, where reports of them in several locations within Texas abound.

As with silver carp, the distribution of bighead carp is often associated with human activity, particularly in relation to the aquaculture industry. Their preference for slow-moving waters with abundant zooplankton also influences where they establish populations.

Major Carp Fishing Locations in Texas

Rod and reel fishing
Fishing is a beloved sport for everyone in Texas.


Texas offers a wealth of prime locations for carp fishing, each providing unique opportunities and challenges. From small community ponds to vast reservoirs and river systems, the state is teeming with water bodies that are home to various carp species.

Kirby Lake

Lake Kirby in Abilene, Texas sunrise
At Kirby Lake in Abilene, you can encounter common carp and grass carp.

©August Zett/

Nestled in the city of Abilene, Kirby Lake is a well-loved spot among Texas carp anglers.

Kirby Lake is primarily known for its common carp, but you may also encounter grass carp on your fishing trips. The lake’s waters offer a nurturing habitat for these fish, contributing to their healthy populations.

The lake is well-equipped for fishing, with public access points, fishing piers, and plenty of shorelines for anglers preferring to stay on land. It’s a popular spot not just for carp fishing but also for birdwatching and picnicking, making it a lovely location for a family outing.

Kirby Lake has also been the host of several carp fishing tournaments, further cementing its status as a prominent carp fishing location. These events bring together both experienced and novice anglers, fostering a sense of community and shared learning.

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake, Austin Tx
In downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake offers shore fishing and common carp.

©Skylar Dawn/

Located in downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake is known for its common carp fishing.

Lady Bird Lake offers excellent opportunities for shore fishing and is known for its sizable common carp. It’s a popular location for both local and visiting anglers.

Still fishing with corn or dough baits is a commonly used technique in this location. As the lake has a catch-and-release policy, using barbless hooks is recommended.

Brazos River

Brazos River Texas
If bighead and silver carp are your preference, Brazos River is a great destination.


The Brazos River is a prime location for those targeting bighead and silver carp.

This river, running through the heart of Texas, is home to several species of carp. It offers varied fishing spots, from slower-moving pools to faster-flowing areas.

Casting into slower-moving waters and using filter-feeding-friendly baits can be successful when targeting silver and bighead carp.

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake
Grass carp is what you’ll find if fishing for carp on Caddo Lake.

©Victoria Ditkovsky/

Located on the Texas-Louisiana border, Caddo Lake offers a unique carp fishing experience.

With its extensive labyrinth of bayous, sloughs, and ponds, Caddo Lake is a paradise for anglers seeking grass carp. Its diverse ecosystem makes it an appealing destination for nature lovers as well.

Surface fishing with plant-based baits can be particularly effective for grass carp in this location. For common carp, still, fishing techniques usually yield good results.

Lake Fork

While bass fishing is the main draw of Lake Fork, the lake also has an available population of common carp.

©Steve Price/

Known primarily for its bass fishing, Lake Fork also offers excellent opportunities for carp fishing.

Lake Fork is home to a healthy population of common carp. While they’re often overshadowed by the lake’s renowned largemouth bass, these carp provide an additional challenge for anglers.

Fishing with corn or dough baits around the lake’s numerous submerged structures can be a successful strategy when targeting common carp here.

Key Takeaways

Carp fishing in Texas is indeed a fascinating journey. It’s not just about the thrill of the catch, but it also connects us with nature, involves us in an active community, and educates us about the intricate ecology of our waterways. From the different species making Texas their home to their dietary habits, predators, and the places they inhabit, understanding carp is an adventure in itself.

The importance of carp fishing transcends recreation, contributing significantly to Texas’s economy and shaping the local culture. It also emphasizes the need for sound fishing practices and stewardship, with the challenges and controversies providing opportunities for dialogue and growth.

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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