As far as I know you are the carp man on this forum We should be asking you
John Montana is the fly carp master, but I have not seen him on here in forever.
He inspired me to fish for carp on the fly, have you ever tried that? I did it a couple of times and it was not easy! I hope to try again in the near future, must be a blast hooking those hogs with a fly rod.
When I was growing up in Pittsburgh there were a lot of carp tournaments. Most folks fished some type of doughball but at some point someone figured out that big carp loved crayfish when their shells were soft (molting). That was the bait that one pretty much every week. It is a challenge to find softshells of course so folks would have one or two precious baits. Sometimes a bass or a bowfin would take the bait and folks would get so mad. Hard shelled (normal) crayfish worked too, but just not as well.
Another thing we used to do was fish the rivers quite a bit, mostly targeting catfish. The two baits of choice were chicken livers and kielbasa. While by and large we mostly caught catfish we still caught a fair amount of carp on those two baits.
There are lots of gigantic carp out here in the gorge. I am itching to go after them if there were a baited that would produce with some consistency.
I pick up an occasional 10-15 pound carp while fishing with scented plastic worms for spring bass in shallow water on the Columbia.
Come out here and teach me what to use and how to carp fish and I will take you to the places I call the carp hotels. I would love to experiment with different bait concoctions. I have crawdad traps. How about we start with crawdad tails in a blender, and make doughballs out of that?
While wading for spring smallmouth in warm shallow areas I am often near large schools of cruising shadows that turn out to be behemouh carp. It is rare that they take the plastic that I am putting out their for the bass, but it is always a thrill when they do it. One anomally, when it has happened I have always been using crawdad scented smelly jelly liberally applied to the plastic. That dovetails nicely with the earlier comment that carp like crawdads. Hmmmmm. I have been hitting these areas for years and have never seen a carp fisherman on any of them. The opportunity is wide open. I would love to take over that untapped resource this spring and summer on some trips together. I know crawdad behavior well from my days in amateur bass tourneys. They will start spawning and moulting behavior in April/May when water hits 50F - 55F. Before that the crawdads are deeper and more lethargic and less vulnerable to predators. I actually start seeing carp in the shallows about the same time when I start scouting them for smallies - usually mid-Aprilish. The carp always arrive in them before the bass do. I obviously have no idea how well the carp bite that early in the spring, but it is too early for them to be spawning then. They must be there to eat and stage for the spawn. That is my guess, if you do not mind expanding on and steering that line of thinking with your carp experiences. By the time the bass are starting to arrive in the shallows in decent numbers the carp are already there and starting to jump and splash around a lot. There is lots of overlap in being able to fish for both in the same places on the same days. When the bass are done spawning and leave, of course the carp stay there I assume for throughout the summer. Anyway, let's get in touch by PM and come up with a plan to do some carp chasing soon. I would be game to try it out as soon as March on a day that is warm and calm enough if you think they will bite that early in the year.