Repel bugs, not fish

aaalure44Mosquitos are the common enemy of anglers when fishing. 

But with a simple mist of bug spray the angler can fish mosquito-free, with the annoying insect looking elsewhere. During that time, anglers might tie on their favorite lure, accidently getting bug spray on the hook and lure. 

A common question in the world of fishing is if DEET in bug spray repels mosquitos as well as fish you are looking to catch. 

Can one touch of the lure affect your day out fishing?  Biologists don’t know.

John Findesien, fisheries biologist, doesn’t know an exact answer because no studies have been done. Findesien knows that catfish are known for their keen sense of smell and taste, so they would be the first to sense it.  

Stink baits are known for being stinky to both humans and catfish. Something that burns human noses like bug spray, may in fact also burn the fish’s senses, therefore repelling them 

But the answer is unknown.

Findesien understands consistency is very important to anglers fishing.  If an angler is catching lots of fish one minute and the bite suddenly stops, they’ll look back to what changes were made. In some cases, the application of bug spray, sun block or even a pinch of tobacco while changing a lure can casue the fish to stop biting. Anglers often jump to conclusions that those materials must have repelled the fish.

Findesien knows anglers would like to blame the foreign materials that touched the lure but the odds of the bug spray staying on a lure while fishing is rare. 

“With small applications on the lure getting drug 80 feet in the water, that bug spray would be very diluted and would likely come off,” he said. 

The DEET found in bug spray is known to dissolve some plastics, such as lures. But being drug through the water as much as they do, the chances of the DEET doing damage are also unlikely. 

David Nichols, President of Brass n Blades, has heard of the bug spray legend but believes it should really apply more to live bait.

“You want to be sure and keep it off of your hands when you are handling live bait or putting your hands in bait tanks,” said Nichols.“I guess it would be safe to assume that if those negative affects were true, then one wouldn’t want it to on their fishing lures.”

Findesien finds the opposite effect with products that advertise having attracting scents. Some of the attracting scents don’t attract as much as they make the fish strike harder, thus building the angler’s confidence. 

“When anglers put on scented baits, the have more confidence and may fish the lure different with different outcomes,” said Findesien. 

The conclusion to the mystery is that small amounts of bug spray wont stay on a lure long enough to repel. For anglers who believe DEET ruined their fishing, the best advice is to keep casting and be careful when touching your lures.