In this article we will talk about a short fishing story that Darren and his family had in the summer of 2019. It was this family fishing trip that got me to thinking about weather striper can smell, and boy can they!
The answer to this might be intriguing. The short answer is yes they can smell. More than 1000 times better than a human can. Striped Bass have 2 sets of nostrils and can smell better than a human can but they do it differently. They dont have lungs like we do, instead they have gills. When tiny traces of chemicals enter their nostrils it registers different things in the fishes frontal brain. Here they decode things like a mating partner, a dangerous preditor, or food, and it sets off instinctual actions. Thats why having bait that smells attractive to them can help anglers to catch more stripers.
It was summertime. It was getting hot and we wanted to leave town. Luckily for us we had a family reunion planned. We had a schedule to keep and we were determined to keep it. When we left town we all breathed a sigh of relief and we were all happy that it was time for us to go out and enjoy ourselves for a few days.
Scheduled around the time that we were going to the family reunion were planned two fishing trips. One the day before and one the day after. Neither one of them were planeed very well because I did not know the area and I could not find a good place to go without driving too far, but we found a creek up in the mountains there where the family reunion was and I took the kids up and we had a good time but we caught no fish. We did get a good picture of a snake on the way out though.
The next day was the family reunion and all went well. The following day was the second fishing trip. I racked my brain to try to figure out where I could take these kids in the middle of the day on the way home and have a good chance of catching trout mid day. Anyone who is a trout fisherman knows that morning and evening are the best times to catch fish so I had my challenge set out for me.
That night I thought and thought. The next day when I was asked “dad where are we going“ I had to make a decision. My decisions revolved around a place where we had lived before. We could go to Baker lake or we could go to Pine Valley reservoir. We had had much luck at Baker Lake in the past but there were times we got skunked as well and those times mostly were during the middle part of the day. Pine Valley was a little less familiar to us but I think what made me decide to go there was that it was higher up in the mountains and would maybe be cooler at least.
So the decision was made to fish at Pine Valley reservoir. You may be thinking what does this have to do with Striper? i’m getting there… Patience. Anyway, when we arrived at Pine Valley reservoir the kids took off to find the best spot while my wife and I lagged behind.
The lake was very busy. There wasn’t hardly a place to finish along the shady side being the south side of the lake. That’s where I wanted to be but it looked like we were out of luck because, like I said, there was hardly nowhere to go. My three boys wandered back-and-forth on that side of the lake to try to find a place to nose in but my wife and I decided to stay on the dam, in the grass, and try to dunk a line there.
My kids finally did find a place on the south side of the lake and they all baited up and cast their line in the water as well. After some time nobody had caught a fish. In fact I had noticed that there wasn’t anybody on the lake who caught a fish. After a little while one of my sons came over to bring me some bait because they had it all. I had been using a grasshopper found on the way in.
When he gave me the bait he also brought me some fish attractant that we had purchased. I wasn’t sure if this stuff was a scam or if it worked at all but I decided to give it a try since my son had brought it for me to use. He put some on his line as well and we both cast out. It wasn’t too much longer before he caught a nice pan size rainbow trout. He was able to retrieve the trebble hook and release the fish unharmed.
He quickly baited it up and recast his line. While we were sitting there my line got bitten and I caught a pan size trout as well. I was not able to get my hook out, he swallowed it. I had no choice but to keep him. After I tied on a new hook and cast out again my son got another bite and was able to bring in another trout. He was also able to release that one.
Again he baited up and cast out. My youngest son came over after seeing us catching fish and he decided to bait up and use the sent as well and he casted out. Because he had not claimed his spot until third, he was forced to move over a little bit and he did not like the spot where he had to fish. He wanted to come closer to where I was but I told him no you cast out where you are.
I have seen fish rolling there and I know you will catch one, I told him. He cast is line out and within a minute he also reeled in a pan size trout. We decided to keep his while we were taking care of that one my other son caught another one. This one had already been cought before and It had a hook and line in his mouth besides the one that he bit on that was my sons. Wow this fish was hungry. Anyway that was kind of our day and we went home with three fish to cook and released two.
So what was the story all about? It got me to thinking about the ability of fish to smell underwater. I am convinced that the fish attractant made all of the difference. Nobody else on the lake was catching fish and they were all using the same bait we were.
I know there were fish in other parts of the lake because I could see them rolling. My sons had a conversation with a man who had been fishing at that Lake for over 40 years with his grandfather. He left with no fish. I had fished that lake before and gotten skunked as well but I did not have the attractant.
Again, I think it was the attractant that made all the difference. I’ve used attractant before and never been convinced like this. So I decided to do a little studying about stripers and their ability to smell underwater. What I found out is that stripers unlike other fish have two nostrils on each side of the head. One nostril on each side allows water to enter while the other one filters water out. They are able to not only smell the food but these two nostrils are connected to the taste glands and a striper smells and tastes at the same time.
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So when you are fishing with bunker that has a slimy outer coating that is releasing a smell into the water, the striped bass with their ability to smell more than 1000 times better than a human, is able to pick this up very quickly.
It is said that their sense of smell is much more a factor in their eating than their sense of sight. So when you throw out a lure with no smell on it, it makes me wonder if you are cheating yourself out of the possibility of catching some of those stripers that might otherwise smell your bait.
With a lure, it seems that they are only going by their vision and their ability to sense vibrations in the water.
I’m curious if anyone has any data that they would like to share. My thought that I would like to find out is, has anyone ever sprayed scent on their jig before using it to fish Striper? Do you think it worked?
Please let me know in the comments below. I would be interested in seeing and hearing some of the stories if anyone has tried this and if you think it made a difference.
If so, maybe I should invent the spray on cent for lures specifically designed for stripers. We can call it bunker smell… LOL
You can check out a post I wrote for fishing for striped bass as a beginner here.