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John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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August 26, 2008

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Cermele: Stench Contest

As I've finally got something to talk about, now is as good a time as any for me to jump in on Mr. Merwin's blog. I used to blog under the moniker "Little Tuna" many moons ago while working at Salt Water Sportsman magazine. It's good to be back.

Now I'm with F&S, and have been given Merwin's permission to type at you on the occasion. I guess you could say he's the owner of the prestigious lodge and I am the annoying guy no one wants to join, but who is constantly banging at the back door. Oh, and Merwin says I'm only aloud to refer to him as a "geezer" once a month. Guess I just burned that for August, but it'll be September soon.


So I just returned from traversing Alaska with a good friend and five fly rods between us. We made an RV our home for seven days, and it got me thinking about fish perfume. On this particular trip, the fragrance by day four was an equal mix of Oscar Meyer boloney, wet socks, pots of dried Ramen Noodles, wader must, stale Alaskan Amber, and salmon slime. With the doors open, no problem. Shut the RV and the stench could gag a maggot.

It was a new combo for me, as this was my first trip to Alaska and first salmon experience. The normal fish perfume on my clothes by day's end is a concoction of New Jersey striped bass or bluefish slime, chum, cigarette smoke, boat soap, and the orange barbecue powder from a bag of Lays.

Let's hear your regular fish perfume recipe. I'll send the most rank entry a few spools of Spider Wire Braid. But be honest...I want the odors from your actual fishing outings, whether it be on your person, in your truck, ice shanty, etc.

Joe Cermele...JC from here on.


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Lake Erie perch, warm worms, Aruturo Fuente Maduro, doritos (nacho cheese flavor), Vernors ginger ale and a splash of Aqua Velva in mild combat with 2-day B.O.


A mixture of largemouth bass, Guntersville millfoil (kind of like pine), potted meat, and Gulp power worm.

My deep sea option is a mixture of grouper, snapper, potted meat, and pogey.

Pt Jude Joe

The fishing aroma I am most familiar with is pogies or ,as you call 'em south of Ct, bunker.Making chum and chunks,(it's just like working in the kitchen),you never seem to get it all off after a fishing trip.It'll be a week or so after the last trip of the season before it's totally gone.mmmmmmm pogies....smells like victory!

Dr. Ralph

Let's see... eau de 50:1 two cycle oil and gas, coagulating Skipjack blood, rotting guts, heads, and other various parts and pieces used for bait and if we're lucky the pleasant odor of a 30 pound Rockfish fresh out of the lake. Oh and don't forget the faint smell of that beer or three you accidentally knocked over.


Jack is winning so far. I'll call that fragrance "Erie Summer Breeze for Men"

Alex Pernice the fly rod winner

Dead and rotting (moldy and decinigrating) shad, dead worms left in the car too long, and cut shad sides with a hefty splash of old spice body spray. Fox fiver catfish as good as it gets.


My fishing perfume goes as follows: 1. Gulp! juice on hands 2. bad breath from getting up at 3 a.m. to be on the flats at 5 and forgetting to brush your teeth. 3. BO because I also forgot deoderant. 4. rubbing alcohol because I cut my foot on a broken shell when we had to get out and pull the boat because we got it stuck in 2 inches of water. 5. gasoline, because the main line broke and I had to hold it together with my hands to keep the engine running. 6. Ruined sandwich meat because I forgot to put ice in the cooler and it was 98 degrees that day. 7. Deer urine from deer season, because it was left in the truck where I unfortunately stepped on it barefooted and had to smell Code Blue doe-in-heat all day. Add in a little skunk stench because we didn't catch jack crap all day. Finally put it all in a truck for the 2 hour ride home with wet shorts that are chaffing your thighs and you just about got the full experience of fishing with me!


Oh yeah! you can call mine "Mosquito Lagoon on a Summers day". Also, it would be made into a fragrance for the ladies also!

Dr. Ralph

alabamashunter I've had some Tink's 69 gel in a tool box in my truck for two years! Never hurts to be prepared


In the window seal in my carport I have a bottle of Code Blue that has been there for a similar amount of time. I opened it and WOW! that stuff is still pretty da#m potent.


And Alabama Hunter takes the lead. Brownie points for naming your own brand, too. Sad thing is I doubt that combination is made up. That'll be a tough one to top.


How about 100% Deet... Cuba Libre and Cohibas mixed on the breath... 30 SPF mineral sunblock... Empanada grease on my pants... Old Spice Endurance, not just in the pits, pretty much everywhere... coca leaf tea... and a healthy dose of Bolivian mud from the knees down, which smells kinda like the infield dirt of a baseball diamond. That´s a big hint to anyone crossing blogs.

Blue Ox

While not exactly a perfume, this was a horrid stench nontheless:
July, 1995
We went night fishing for cats on the Illinois river. My cohorts were using nightcrawlers and dead frogs, I had some chopped-up bluegill on one line & a rotten tomato on the other.
We caught 1 fish- a 15lb channelcat. Loaded the whole mess of equipment, bait and our catch into my friends truck and went home for a few hours of shut-eye.
What I didn't know was that the owner of said truck was leaving on a 2 week trip to Canada later that morning. What he didn't know was that we forgot to unload the truck as soon as we got back.
For those of youse who remember, summer of '95 was the year of that ungodly heatwave that killed around 700 people in Chi-town. Temps were well over 100 degrees on more than a few days. And that truck sat there and cooked in the late july sun for 2 weeks...
When the owner of the truck returned from his trip and finally opened the vehicle... the horrific combination of the 'crawlers, the frogs, chopped bluegill, AND the channelcat(!) was enough to cause my friend to puke, then pass out, and then puke while passed out. Someone in the neighborhood called the police, who in turn called Haz-mat. A lot of explaining had to be done on our part! The truck itself had to be junked- it was impossible to get rid of the smell. That stench hung in the neighborhood for 6 days until the winds finally blew it out of there.
I wouldn't call it a perfume, but a hard lesson we had learned.

I still have the tacklebox I was using that night.

And it still reeks.


That's not fair, KD can't join in!

Dr. Ralph

alabamahunter, I'd be more worried about Blue Ox than KD... I almost barfed reading his story!


KD can chime in, but he can't win, because he goes to way more fancy locales than us so it's an unfair advantage. I can't find an empanada anywhere I fish

Brian T

Do fisheries research, do stomach contents analysis in 95F heat for a day on last night's net-set. By 300 fish into the work it is really cool to watch the flies lay eggs and maggots on your hands.

Dr. Ralph

I wanna hear more about that there Coca Leaf Tea... I bet it's an eye opener!