Let’s face it. Fishing is a messy business. Blood, guts, roe, sardines, squid, shrimp sauce, Power Bait, mackerel, and all sorts of other random goo are just part of the game.
And that stuff gets all over everything. … Your rods, your lures, your boat and your reels.
If left unattended, all that stank will turn rancid and cover everything you have with fish-repelling stink. 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:
If you use sardine wraps on your salmon plugs or any other type of scent — sticky liquids, bait oils or smelly pastes — it’s a very good idea to clean them after each use.
My No. 1 go to lure cleaning solution is lemon dish soap. I’m not totally sure why, but fish don’t seem to mind the smell of lemon. At the end of the day I’ll throw my lures into a Tupperware container with a little bit of soapy water. Then I will take a plastic scrub brush to them until all residue is gone.
A quick rinse in lake or river water (avoid tap water if possible because it contains chlorine), followed by a pat down with a dry towel and then you’re done. Just remember to let your baits dry thoroughly before putting them in the box to avoid rust.
Rods & Reels
This time of year … Salmon season … I’m using a lot of cured salmon roe. So, my rods end up with a thick coating of pinkish egg slime that eventually dries and hardens and turns into a thick, hard to clean lacquer. You may also get this effect when using sardines for stripers, chicken liver for catfish, nightcrawlers and various other stinky stuff.
I’ve tried scrubbing rods and reels with plastic brushes, I’ve tried putting them in a hot shower and letting them steam and just about everything else you can think of and none of that works as well as I would like.
Then I discovered Lemon Pledge, the furniture polish. 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! You have nice clean rods and reels.
Of course, boat interiors and floors are often most disgusting after a day of fishing. Come late afternoon, my boat floor is often awash in a thick coating of fish slime, fish blood, ground-up Doritos, toe 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 smell onto their bait.
Recently I found my new favorite boat cleaning product in the laundry detergent aisle — OxyClean.
This white powdery detergent apparently has a real knack for eating proteins, which is obviously what a lot of the schmeg 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 its 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.