Scents ? Do they help or hurt your fishing?
Written by J.A Long - Snake River Guide Service   
Monday, 29 November 2004 14:54
Sometimes simple things make a difference. Insight on scents and their problems.

In our high tech world of fishing, bait and tackle companies spend millions of dollars on research, development and testing scents and attractants. These chemicals and scents are great tools but there may be a low tech solution for improving your fishing experience. Today many fishermen use some form of scent attractant to up their odds in catching fish. Whether it is Salmon, steelhead or even smallmouth bass these bait oils can give you an edge; however, in many situations maybe scent is spoiling your chances for a really good day of catching.

We?re not talking about the bait oil you drizzle out of that special bottle you may have in your tackle box. It?s the scent you have on your hands and equipment. In the past few years there have been numerous studies conducted on fish and how they behave to chemical odors. The residue of gasoline, motor oil and many other man made products are a definite turn off for fish. Studies have also pointed out that people produce oils and chemicals that fish will generally avoid.

Here in the Pacific Northwest it is becoming quite common to see salmon fishers using rubber gloves to bait and handle their plugs. It appears that salmon are especially shy of scents that do not belong? I think that a lot of our fish respond negatively to ?off? tastes. After a number of years of intense steelhead fishing during the winter I have noted some things of interest. Bites decrease if the bait is not very fresh. Bait shrimp used for tipping a plug or fished whole when drifting needs to be as close to food quality as possible, the meat firm, and not strong smelling. The same thing goes for roe; it needs to have been well cured and as free of blood as possible. Decaying shrimp, blood and poor quality roe will surly put off steelhead and salmon. No matter what you do - if bait is spoiled it will not be effective, and spoilage does not need to be obvious. The chemical smell is there long before the human nose can distinguish it. Always use fresh, high quality baits. This includes that precious bait oil you may already use. These products have a limited life and at some point they too become old and deteriorate.

We all have the taste of human on our hands, but in some cases we can have a lot more than just that. Did you shave this morning? Wash you hands and face? Use any lotion or sunscreen? Cook breakfast? Drive the rig to the river? All these activities will add more foreign flavors to your hands; these may be totally nasty to the fish you want to catch. It is these same hands that will hold your fishing gear. Simply washing your hands often can reduce this problem. There are products such as fisherman?s soap, and dish detergents such as Lemon Joy that have become just another tool for the educated angler. These products clean, rinse easily and leave no residual odors.

There is more to be concerned with. How regularly do you really clean your fishing rods? Especially the cork butt and reel you handle every day of fishing? Over a period of time your fishing equipment will no doubt have a build up of contaminates such as sweat, bait oil, shrimp, roe and many other foreign chemicals. The oils and other organics will decay and become a source of bacteria and spoilage that may not be evident. To reduce this contamination wash your fishing equipment regularly with a good, easy rinse detergent. I also use a kitchen brush and give everything a scrub - pole, guides, reel seat and cork butt. Don?t forget that reel; it is another prime area for oils and other smelly, sticky, goo to hide. Rinse everything well after cleaning. Another often overlooked item is the gloves in every anglers pocket? if they have any odor or are stained - wash them.

Fishing can be tough, but anyone can increase his or her chance for more productive days. Good, fresh bait is the first step. Then you need to reduce or eliminate off scents. Wash your equipment, hands, and anything else that comes in contact with bait and your terminal tackle. If you don?t already use a bait oil or scent give them a try. These will give the fish something new to smell and help mask the human odor and anything else your hands may have picked up. These simple changes could mean the difference between an average fishing day or fantastic day of catching!

 
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