Do Carp Sleep? When And Why Carp Sleep And How to Tell

As an avid carp angler and someone who likes to know just about everything possible about the fish I actively target, I naturally have a lot of questions come to mind. The other day, I was sitting around thinking.

I was in that situation where I could see plenty of carp on the surface (no, it wasn’t a spawning situation) but they were still as day and not interested in biting anything I had to offer.

Naturally, I thought, do carp sleep?

I had to do some digging but here is what I learned.

Do carp sleep?

Carp do sleet but they do it completely differently than we are used to seeing. A sleeping carp will appear motionless with the fins on the body relaxed. This can be true either at the bottom of the water or near the surface.

Carp do not have eyelids so how can you even tell? You can’t because fish are technically not sleeping when they appear to be.

In the fish’s mind, the carp is asleep. Scientifically, they are not sleeping. They don’t enter the same brain activity waves as mammals or sleep the same way.

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Good Luck Catching Sleeping Carp

I know the frustration you’re going through. Sometimes you see many carp in a day near a weedy or rocky shoreline, and he seems like he just ingested 17 Ambien’s. (heavy dose sleeping prescription) in case some were not aware of the term.

The carp is not technically sleeping but is in a period of rest. Respiratory rates are slowed dramatically, muscles are relaxed, and eye movement is nonexistent. Some fish have even been known to be able to be picked up by hand without movement during this time.

They Don’t Care What You’re Offering

It’s not going to happen. Unless I’m doing something completely wrong, I’ve never been able to use enough of the best carp baits including chum, corn, bread or any other bait to get the attention of these fish.

Wait it out or pick a new spot. They are in zombie mode. Don’t confuse sleeping carp for spawning carp. This is easy to know especially if you are aware of when carp spawn, which you can read in depth about on my other blog post. This is probably absolutely Ludacris to even mention this to you, but carp also surface for spawning.

I highly doubt spawning carp will be motionless, but it’s one of the only other times you will see a carp surfacing for the most part. Unless you’re on a river filled with Asian carp and they are jumping toward your face because of the sound vibrations your boat motor is creating.

What about in the winter? Do carp sleep in the winter? The answer is still no. Carp are not grizzly bears that nap for 5 months. They do kind of hibernate however so to speak. Carp will be less active in cold temperatures. The carp’s metabolism will be slowed dramatically. They may even burrow into the mud or other covered areas at the bottom of the water.

They do this to decrease the need for oxygen. Do you breathe more heavily during a workout? Obviously. The same is applied for fish. During spawning or times of high activity, the oxygen need is more significant. This is perfectly fine because oxygen is available.

In the winter, however, oxygen availability is decreased dramatically due to freezing ponds and ice covering the water surfaces. It’s a natural survival tactic for carp, but that does not mean they are sleeping.

Do Goldfish Sleep?

Goldfish do sleep. Technically goldfish is in a resting state which isn’t the same as regular carp or humans. Fun fact but that goldfish you just purchased is a small member of the carp family.

You’re probably thinking that goldfish must be asleep. I’ve been staring at this fish for hours and have seen zero signs of life. Nope. Not asleep. Looks like it but it’s more of a form of rest.

To make things less complicated, it’s probably easiest to just consider the fish to be asleep. In our minds, it’s the exact same thing. Still Confused? Let’s try and word it differently to simplify.

Fish do not have eyelids. Not the carp and not the new goldfish. Do they sleep?

Technically no but yes.

Consider it a time of rest or nice deep daydream about there plans to spawn or the swimming adventure they will embark on when they are finished resting. To simplify the meaning on how it applies to you, don’t try and catch them during this time. Unless you are Bow Fishing. That’s an easy target, and I’d take plenty of those shots if you can do so.

If you haven’t experienced Bow Fishing or want to know how to bow fish. Make sure to read my other blog article in the link in the previous sentence. Bow Fishing for carp is an absolute delight!

In summary

Any other thoughts from any of the readers on if carp actually sleep or not?

It’s very tough to distinguish or understand why your bait means absolutely nothing to them during this time, but it does happen.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the question or hear any stories at failed attempts fishing thinking you had found the jackpot carp zone to find out they are only going to daydream and laugh silently at you for trying.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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