At Alaska King Salmon Adventures, we’re big advocates of using quality scents in order to catch more salmon. Even though we’re salmon fishing on the Nushagak River–one of the world’s best when it comes to catching king salmon–we still depend on scents to help catch more king salmon as well as silver salmon.
In recent years the number and variety of scent-based products that have been developed for anglers has never been greater. From gels to sprays, liquids to pastes, companies are now providing anglers with what they need to catch more fish. Partially, the bass industry is to thank for this, where extensive studies have been conducted on how well fish smell; but now, salmon, steelhead and trout anglers are realizing the benefits of scent.
Whether you choose to apply scents to eggs, shrimp or other baits, lures, plugs or driftbobbers, there’s no doubting the effectiveness of attractive odors. Even when targeting king salmon on Alaska’s famed Nushagak River–where salmon are abundant–we rely heavily on scents. Scents are particularly effective on salmon, whose sense of smell is measured in parts per billion.
Scents can be applied to baits during the curing or brining process, or when fishing on the river. Many of our guides like soaking eggs or herring in scent overnight, then salmon fishing with them the next day. Some anglers like having baits soak in scents so the odors become impregnated in the tissues. Another approach is to wait until you’re on the river, then apply the scents because it’s not certain which flavor the fish may prefer on any given day. Both scent application approaches work. Scents can also be injected into baits.
As for lures, plugs an other artificial presentations, pastes can be applied to them, whereby adding a scent factor to the visual effect. Pastes adhere surprisingly well to these artificial salmon lures, opening many opportunities for anglers to catch more fish.
As with baits, it’s a good idea to bring several types of scents along. Placing them all in a single container, one that fits easily in the boat and can be readily accessed, will increase the likelihood of their being used and will ensure cleanliness. It also helps keep them away from other gear and clothing, meaning things are kept clean on the boat. A plastic container that holds about a dozen types and flavors of scents that sits right next to you in the boat, where you can easily reach what you need, is a good idea. If you have other anglers in the boat, make sure they have their own salmon scents to apply, or can easily reach yours.
Don’t be afraid to try different scents, even if they are not indigenous to the waters being fished. Sometimes crawfish works better than shrimp, or herring over anise. The key is finding a smell the fish like, for once it’s discovered the bite can turn on quickly.