Bait Wars: Stop Raising the Stink

Garbage Can

There’s apparently an arms race going on within the stink bait industry and for humanity’s sake I hope it comes to an end soon. Otherwise, trotline fishermen are going to be exiled to modern-day leper colonies, way downwind from polite society.

I say this because of all the rancid, putrid things I’ve ever put on the end of a hook, the stuff I used last weekend was worse than the gas chamber at Ft. Jackson. It was less an odor than an outright assault on my brain. If my soul could puke, it would have dry heaved for hours after we were done.

I don’t remember the brand name, but it was brown and gooey and came in a large jar, like peanut butter from hell. We put it on sponges and put those on the hook. The stuff was so nasty that it stunk even worse the next day. In fact, I wiped some on my pants leg and now I may have to burn them – along with my socks, my boots and the boat we were riding in. Mere words cannot do justice to the level of nasal violence I suffered.

Why does it have to be like this? Stink bait used to be a pretty simple concept: Find something with a strong smell, put it on your hooks and the channel cats would use their highly tuned senses to come find it. At some point over the past 20 years, somebody decided it wasn’t good enough for the fish to be able to simply smell it. Instead, amateur bait-makers have been experimenting with scents designed to reach out and grab the catfish by his whiskers and beat him into submission.

The stink bait smell is getting so bad that catfish are considering unconditional surrender.

This escalation reminds me of what happened with hot sauce. For years, we were happy with Crystal, Louisiana and Tabasco. Nowadays, we’ve got weapons-grade sauces that can cause burns, blisters and blindness – and probably plague and pestilence as well.

If the invention of Dave’s Insanity Sauce taught us anything, it’s that this war needs to end before it reaches the next level. Even if you don’t care about the human cost, at least consider the fish. How long before the stink on the bait starts to transfer to them?

I believe we ought to go back to chicken livers, cheese and soap before we unleash a smell so foul that it can never be contained by humans. At the very least, we need to stop raising the stink levels before baiting a trotline turns into a war crime.

  • Ken G

    I’ve always caught more cats on live minnows than anything else. Everything eats minnows. But I may try dipping them in Dave’s Insanity Sauce just to see what happens.

    • JimMcClellan

      My guess is they’ll dissolve!!! Down here, you can’t (legally) bait an unattended line with live bait. But I’ve always used earthworms when fishing for channel cats with a rod & reel. I’ve heard folks fish for flatheads with small bream, though.

      • JimMcClellan

        This was wrong, I found out. You can use live bait. What you can’t use is game fish (bream, etc.) as your live bait.

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