Carp wasn’t something that we caught growing up. I spent a lot of time fishing the delta for trout, flounder, and redfish. When I moved to Ohio I met a coworker named Jessie that introduced me to fishing for carp. At lunch one day we left and headed to the Great Miami River with some breakfast cereal and some spices.
Within a couple of minutes, I had hooked what felt like a giant. Later I would find out that one wasn’t so big after all. I caught a few more modest-sized carp before something ran with my line and I couldn’t stop it.
While I didn’t become fascinated with fishing for carp I still go target carp occasionally. It’s a vastly underestimated fish in many respects. Sometimes when other fish aren’t biting carp can save the day. I often keep the ingredients to male dough bait in my tackle just in case.
Carp bait can be made with Wheaties, onion salt, and garlic powder. Put two handfuls Wheaties in a handcloth. Pour on about 3 tablespoons of onion salt. Add on top of that 3 tablespoons of garlic powder. Pull up the four corners of the cloth and twist the corners to enclose the mixture.
Dip the twisted handcloth in water to wet it. Knead the Wheaties and spices together inside the cloth. Use your fingers to squeeze the flakes together and mix the powder to make a consistent dough. If it is too dry and you need more liquid get more water by redipping briefly. To removed excess water squeeze out the handcloth by twisting tight the cloth. The dough should hold on the hook if it is rubbery and malleable.
Cover the entire hook and knot with a ball of dough. Carp have a sensitive mouth and you want them to feel as little of your tackle as possible. Smooth out the dough to a circular or oval shape. Use a hook that is not too big for the size you are targeting. Most often a #6 or #8 will work but don’t be afraid to go to a #4. Make sure the tag end of the line is covered with dough ball.
A sliding rig works best. An egg weight ahead of a swivel and lighter leader will catch more carp. Leave the bail open if you can and let the carp run with it. Often they will pick up the dough bait and swim off slowly and set it back down. If this happens let it sit, they are often repositioning the dough in their mouths. Set the hook while they are moving and hang on.