Surf Fishing in Southern California - SC Surf Fishing

Scents: The Missing Part of the Equation of Fishing Plastics

Why fish with scent? The following article discusses the benefits of using scents on you plastic lures.

Fishermen devote lots of money and attention to their equipment. They will spend $100’s on rods, reels, and lures. If you walk into a quality tackle shop, you can easily be blown away by the different colors, sizes, and styles of lures. Working at Purfield’s I have noticed that anglers forget that fish have a sense of taste and smell. I can count on one hand the number of times a customer has bought scents without my advice. Scent is an important factor in fishing. Scent is beneficial because it gives the fish a trail to follow, it covers up our odor and gives our lure flavor.

Pro Cure
Anchovy Sauce

Surf fishing this winter, we have had to deal with more rain than Southern Cal has received in decades. Beaches were murky all winter long but I still had plenty of 20 perch mornings in this dirty water. Every ten casts or so, I have trained myself to apply a thin coating of Pro Cure Sand Shrimp Sauce to my grubs and other plastic baits. With this added scent I was able to leave a scent trail in the water that alerts the fish there is food nearby and helps the fish find my grub. Fishermen, while targeting Makos offshore, put out a chum slick while drifting, hoping a shark will follow the scent to its source. You are doing the same thing with your scented lure.

I remember reading a magazine article that said fish were put off by some smells. I remember that on the list were gas, sunscreen and some other harsh chemicals. Often people have to work with chemicals and solvents. Just touching your lure and leader with contaminated hands can repel fish. My dad owns a business that makes potting soils. Everyday his hands are exposed to fertilizers and harsh solvents. He went surf fishing with me one morning and did not do well. I had over 8 perch out of one hole while my dad couldn’t even get bit. Dad was fishing the same hole with the same grub. He was against using scent on his lures because he thought it wouldn’t make a difference. He finally applied smelly jelly to the grub and started to catch fish. Since that trip, he is a believer in scent.

The most important reason I use scents on my plastics is the fish hold onto your lure longer. Recently I experienced a great example of this. I went to Kenneth Hahn Park to do some trout fishing before work. I was sight casting mini jigs to schools of truck trout. At the time I had left my scent in the car and I didn’t feel like walking back to retrieve it. For about an hour I was watching the trout chase and mouth the tail of the jig but they never took it down far enough to hook themselves. Annoyed, I went back to the car and grabbed my Crave Gravy. On my first cast with gravy on the bait 6 trout chased my jig and finally I watched as the jig disappeared in a trout’s mouth, “FISH ON!” All it took was a little flavoring to get the fish to eat. The same thing happens when I fish large 6 1/2'” to 8” swim baits for Calico Bass. When fishing without scent, I get all kinds of short bites, with scent added to the plastics the fish tend to walk up the plastic instead of just attacking it without eating the hook. When surf fishing I never fish the 1 ½” grub, I try to fish baits in the 2” and 3” range because I don’t really like catching 50 perch that are only 4”. I’d rather pick off the larger perch. Now before you guys get on my case, small bait do catch big fish. I’ve seen it many times when albacore fishing. I have looked into the stomachs of Albacore in the 30 pound range and saw tons of small 1” squid and small baits that only looked like 2 eyeballs and a wiggle. When using bigger baits, you are narrowing your target to bigger fish. When fishing perch, I fish a 2” or 3” plastic and smear on Pro Cure so that I still attract the small fish to bite a bait that is too big for them. Quickly, this catches the attention of the big perch in the group and they will take the food away from dinks.

Today we are seeing a revolution in the relationship between plastic baits and scent. Years ago Berkley started making artificial baits that was impregnated with scent, making them appealing to fish. It all started with their Power Baits for Trout. Then they made some plastics that were designed only for fresh water fishing until now. Last year they came out with a new series of baits called Gulp. These plastic like baits slowly dissolve in the water leaving a very strong scent trail that drives fish nuts. Early this year they introduced their saltwater series of Gulp baits. Berkley makes a few different baits for saltwater including the Peeler Crab, Shrimp and the Sandworm. The Sandworm is now the most popular artificial bait amongst the perch fishing community. One reason is most guys are too lazy to apply scent. The reason why the gulp is so productive is because the scent is impregnated in the bait. Second, the Sandworm looks similar to the sandworms that are native to our beaches.

Gulp! baits are scent
impregnated .

Scents on our plastics have great advantages weather you’re fishing the surf, fresh or saltwater. It’s something all anglers need to take advantage of. There are plenty of manufactures that make a great variety of scents for your kind of fishing. For fishing the surf I like fishing the Salted Anchovy Smelly Jelly or Pro Cure. Pro Cure also makes a shrimp that works great in the surf zone. When fishing for inshore bass, my two favorite scents are anchovy and squid. Both baits are staples in the boats bait tanks and are natural forage for these fish. Hot Sauce is also a good scent for our local bass while Pro cure makes a scent specially designed for enticing bass called Calico Cocktail. Lastly, trout anglers have a wide variety of companies that make scents. The two most popular locally are Power Bait and Crave that makes sauces that are designed to attract fish. Power Bait makes Secret Sauce and Crave makes Cave Gravy. Both companies make their coactions in three flavors, Anise, Corn and Garlic. Scent is a weapon in our arsenal that is often over looked. Anglers in the know have been using scent to pad their fish counts for years.

Don’t you think you should give it a try?

Article written by:
David Yumori (aka DKY)

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