Blood, guts, roe, sardines, squid, sand shrimp, prawns, tuna, crawfish and a wide assortment of bait pastes, stink sauces and fish oils…fishing can be one messy business!
And just think: that stuff gets all over everything…Your rods, your lures, your boat, your reels, your clothes — and you!
If left unattended, all that slimy mess will turn rancid and cover everything you have with fish-repelling stink. Unsightly and unappealing to finned critters! So, it is imperative to thoroughly wash all your gear before you put it away.
Unfortunately there’s no one magic bullet that you can use to clean everything but I have found a handful of products that get the job done very nicely. Here are some suggestions to “de-stinkify” your fishing stuff:
Rods & Reels
My gear really gets hammered during salmon and steelhead seasons…when I’m using a lot of eggs.
Rods and reels end up with a liberal coating of pinkish egg slime at the end of each day that, if you forget to wipe everything down, eventually dries, hardens and turns into a thick, yellowish crust. I know you know what I ‘m talking about here – the stuff is damn near impossible to get off right?
Well, not so fast! Allow me to let you in on a little secret: Lemon Pledge is like magic! Yep, I’m talking the furniture polish here. This stuff works wonders on all that dried, caked-on goo!
All you have to do is spray some Pledge on the areas you want to clean, let it foam for several minutes, and then wipe it off with a dry towel. Presto…blanks, cork handles, guides and reel side plates look new again!
Speaking of reels, you can simply give ‘em the Pledge treatment and be done or, if you want go the extra mile, spray some WD-40 on a cloth afterward and then wipe them down. Nice and shiny!
When salmon fishing, I’m running sardine wraps on my plugs – along with an assortment of other types of sent — sticky liquids, bait oils and smelly pastes.
Salmon are obviously very sensitive to scent and that’s why we’re always adding it to our baits and lures. However, those smells that attract fish will also repel them if left on your lures. So, as soon as you’re done using a plug, it needs a bath.
I like to throw them in a bucket of soapy water and let the slime and oils loosen up. Then, at the end of the day, I’ll gently scrub any residue off with a soft bristled plastic brush. Avoid sponges because they just don’t mix well with treble hooks. A quick rinse in river water (don’t use tap water if possible because it often contains chlorine), followed by a pat down with a towel and you’re done. Just remember to let your baits dry thoroughly before putting them in the box to avoid rust.
Since fish like salmon have such powerful sniffers, don’t use just any soap. Lemon Joy is the way to go (Ajax brand at the Dollar Store works too). I’m not sure why fish don’t seem to mind the smell of lemon, but you can confidently wash stuff in it without fear of tuning them off. To prove that point to a skeptical client one day, I squirted Lemon Joy all over my bait wrap and promptly got bit! Not sure I’d recommend that one every day, but it worked that time…
Of course, boat interiors and floors are often thoroughly disgusting after a day of fishing. Come late afternoon, a boat’s deck can be awash in a thick coating of fish slime, fish blood, ground-up Doritos, roe balls that somebody stepped on and unknown assortment of other smelly stinky, dirty things.
I’ve tried quite a few products for cleaning the inside of my boat, and I have found Simple Green is not a bad way to go — but I’m not so sure about the smell that it leaves on the inside of the boat. I really don’t want my customers touching anything that has a chemical smell and then transferring that scent onto their baits or lures.
Recently I found my new favorite boat-cleaning product in the laundry detergent aisle…OxyClean Versatile Powder. This white detergent apparently has a real knack for eating proteins…which is obviously what a lot of the schmegma on the inside of a fishing boat is made of.
All I do is pour one scoop into a bucket, then spray some warm water into it and then scrub it on my floors and interior with a plastic brush. Next, I simply walk away and let the OxyClean do it’s magic. The longer you leave it on, the more stains it eats up.
A quick rinse with the hose and you’re done! Once I started using this stuff, my boat hasn’t sparkled so much since it was new. An additional plus: the stuff’s biodegradable.
Now that you’ve gotten everything cleaned up, there’s one thing that probably still stinks: You! Sardine stank is hard to get off your hands – especially on warm days – and roe funk hangs around quite a while too. Throw in some fish cleaning and maybe a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos and the wife’s not going to get within 100 yards of you.
That’s where a stiff plastic brush and some Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint Soap come in handy. Give all affected areas a thorough scrubbing and you may just be allowed back in the house!
Bobby Lee says
Hey JD, DOES tobacco on my fingers mess me up???Does above Cleaning work for tobacco if it is hurtin’ my fishin’ ??? Also can i boil water for cleanin’ to get the city crap chemical’s out??ThankX for UR Tip’s:):) Fishin’ Fun w/Bobby Lee
Bobby, yeah tobacco is a known fish repellant. I’d just wash my hands and gear with Odor-Off soap!
Schmegma, really. That makes me laugh!
You’re awesome JD! This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I spent the entire weekend cleaning and getting the koke machine ready for summer. Your tips and advice are greatly appreciated!!!
Cool, thanks Jake!