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How To

Something Stinks: Crappie Scents

Take advantage of their sense of smell with some tips for crappie fishing.

Hardware comprises an undeniably essential element of any angling pursuit and crappie fishing is no exception. From vertical jigging to dock shooting, trolling to tight lining, rigging your favorite plastics on Mustad’s Crappie Ball Head Jig leverages the UltraPoint 4.3 technology, which ensures those solid connections that better enable you to pull your fish out of or away from cover.

Of course, catching a fish implies hooking the fish; and hooking the fish first requires enticement. Prudent plastic selection, both shape and color, plays an integral role here, but don’t overlook the crappie’s nimble nose. Fact is, these fish have good sniffers and baits that smell like the real deal often get bit faster.

Now, this may not be such a big deal during the prespawn/spawn stage when the fish clobber just about anything they see; but during the dog days of summer and/or the depths of winter, boosting the appeal can mean the difference between a few bites and a banner day.

These strategies are especially beneficial when wind, rains or heavy boat traffic turns your area turbid. Crappie are primarily sight feeders, but when visibility declines, scent enhancements cue them to the potential for feeding.

Scent options vary from baitfish, to crawfish to wax worms. Local forage should help you decide, but there’s also some logic in offering fish a forage scent they don’t often encounter. Whatever you choose, consider these options for boosting your bait’s olfactory profile.

Crappie are primarily sight feeders, but when visibility declines, scent enhancements cue them to the potential for feeding.
- David Brown

Surface Applications: Pastes like KVD FishSticks and gels (Pro-Cure, Bobby Garland Mo Glo Slab Jam) stick to the bait’s surface and enhance both its smell and its taste. When fish bite, they’re more likely to hold on long enough for a hook set.

Spray and Go: From pump style bottles to aerosol cans, spray-on scents such as Berkley Gulp! Alive, TriggerX and Spike-It Garlic Spray offer a quick and convenient method for adding an aroma that’s mostly meant to leave a smelly trail in the water. Be aware of overspray, especially in windy conditions; you don’t want to wear this stuff home.

Sit and Soak: For a heavier dose of surface scent, drop your favorite plastics in a Ziploc bag or sealable container, add a formulated liquid or a homemade concoction (i.e. anise oil & garlic) and let them sit overnight. Tweezers help minimize the amount of scent residue on your fingers, but, short of latex gloves, there’s really no way to totally avoid this.

Inside Job: Tubes allow you to inject scents such as Kodiak Fish Attractant Paste into the hollow bodies for slower dispersion. A handy tool called The Bait Pump (thebaitpump.com) works similar to a turkey baster to hold and insert the scent product of your choice. Unscrew the cap piece, fill the pump’s chamber up to the cap’s thread lines with Berkley PowerBait Crappie Nibbles or any scented nuggets, replace the cap and then slowly tighten to crush the contents into a smooth paste. Squeeze the paste out the nose and into a tube body.

On the Tip: Those Crappie Nibbles also work well on the jig point as an extra enticement. Same goes for dropping minnows on Mustad Crappie Lite Hooks. Whether the fish bites the jig/bait or the Nibble — does it really matter? A bite is a bite.

A couple of points to consider: First, scents tend to wash off faster at higher speeds, so if long line trolling or casting is your plan, be aware that regular applications will be necessary. Also, warmer water hastens the dispersion, so factor the season into your plan.

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