We know so much more about which smells fish find appealing than which smells make fish wrinkle their lil’ noses and lose their appetites. The funny thing is, both issues are equally important.
On the attractive side of the equation are some very successful and well-known products such as Berkley Gulp!, Pro-Cure and even WD-40. Yes, you read that right — WD-40 of hardware store fame. We spray it on salmon lures to draw more strikes.
Berkley did a magnificent job of laboratory R&D when developing Gulp! But where is the research on which scents fish find repulsive? Other than shark repellent, we have a dearth of available research on the repulsive side of our smelly equation. The best we have are observations and opinions of charter captains, fishing guides and professional anglers. Heaven knows we are an opinionated lot!
I’ll share some of my thoughts, based on decades of experience as a charter captain. I must warn you that you may like some of this. For one, I cover up and hide from the sun rather than smear on sunscreen. Not that sunscreen wearers don’t catch fish, and certainly not all sunscreen products are created equal. I have, however, seen the bite shut off for people who just slathered on the sunscreen, picked up their lure or grabbed a piece of bait and sent it down to tickle the nose of an unsuspecting fish who probably went cross-eyed and scurried away as fast as its fins could flail.
Now I ask: Can someone handle a salad or sandwich drenched in vinegar and expect a fish not to notice? Is it reasonable to hope a fish won’t notice that an angler grabbed and devoured four big handfuls of fiery habanero chips before handling a bait or lure? How about sour cream or avocado dip? Fuel and oil don’t exactly put fish into a feeding frenzy. I’m even wondering if hand sanitizer is yucky to fish.
We may not have much research available to us to plumb the smelly depths of this onerous issue, but I have found a workable solution. I put a new product aboard my charter boat, WaveWalker, to help combat the problem: Fish’n Wipes by Braid Products, a nearly chemical-free, germ-killing product that contains aniseed (a fish attractant).
They come in an easy-to-stow and easy-to-use package that makes it easy to extract one without contaminating the remaining 29 wipes. Just wipe smelly hands free of repulsive scents and get back to fishing. I’ve even used them to wipe down lures that have been handled by people with smelly stuff on their fingers. Most folks use them before eating.
I happily confess to having way too much fun with this. I’ve been known to come down off the bridge, wipe my hands with a Fish’n Wipe, rinse my hands in the bait tank (among the live baits), wiggle my fingers in a bag of Gulp! baits and then start fishing. Interestingly, this usually results in quick hookups because I have both removed repulsive smells and added attracting scents. It works!
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.