My wife, Barb, often accuses me of going overboard with my projects and I tend to agree with her. Take for instance carp bait. I recently decided it was time to catch one of the big carp cruising around my dock so I pulled out my file on doughball. The file contained 17 different recipes ranging from a handful of Wheaties, to some with sophisticated ingredients that sounded so good I might hate to share the result with carp. They sounded pretty tasty.
My own very simple recipe involves mixing cornmeal and flour in equal proportions. I often add vanilla extract and strawberry Jell-O to the mix. Add water and knead into stiff dough. I then roll into small balls, drop the balls into boiling water and when they float they are done. You can experiment by adding all sorts of scents to this recipe to make it even more attractive to carp.
Other recipes in my files call for such ingredients as Karo syrup, molasses, egg whites and anise seeds. Makes me wonder if Betty Crocker was an avid carp angler. I particularly like the one that called for grated cheese. I haven't tried it, but that recipe might even catch catfish.
This renewed desire to catch a carp came about because I have had some good results catching channel catfish. These so called rough fish are fun to catch, fight hard, and make delicious eating.
Two years ago I bought a MasterBuilt electric smoker. I seasoned it and then let it sit in the garage for two years. When I decided to fire it up this year I discovered I had misplaced a part. MasterBuilt customer service sent me a new one free of charge. Then, I messed up again and the controller needed replaced. Probably my fault, but again customer service came through at no charge and I was able to try smoking catfish fillets.
When it comes to cooking I would likely starve if not for Barb. She helped me make the brine, which consisted mainly of kosher salt, sugar, water and a few other ingredients meant to add flavor. The fillets were soaked in this over night in the refrigerator.
The next day I set the smoker at 150 degrees and added the fillets. We used apple chips for the smoke and after an hour I increased the temperature to 200 degrees. The fish was done in 4 hours and my first bite sold me on this method. It was delicious.
If the catfish tasted this good, what about carp? Could I smoke a carp and have it taste good? I know some people like the taste of carp, but many anglers despise them and would not eat one if they were starving.
My recipe file also contains several carp recipes, including canned carp, but I think smoking is the way I will go. Bones seem to be the major problem with eating carp, but smoked fish can be a finger food. Barb and I enjoyed smoked fish while sailing in Canadian waters and we could easily pick around the bones. I hope carp will be the same. I plan to score the fillets with my knife to help the heat get to the bones.
The problem now is to catch a carp and I have not had much luck. They are there, but don't seem hungry right now. Maybe I need to try a different flavor of doughball, but I definitely will catch a couple in the near future. I might even have to unlimber my old recurve bow and take drastic measures. Bowfishing can be a challenge, but it is a way to handle fish that refuse to bite.
Smoking carp might just open up a whole new aspect of carp fishing. There can be no doubt that carp fight with the strength of a bull and that they can be as skittish as a trout. What more can we ask of a fish unless it is to have it taste good. I intend to pursue that area soon. If, of course, I can get a carp to bite on one of my many doughball concoctions.