I am constantly amazed to the extent a fisherman will go to catch and maintain the proper bait: from installing costly bait tanks in their homes to running oxygen tanks in their boat live wells. They then spend great amounts of time and money to catch the best bait, spend literally thousands of dollars on boat electronics and gear, and pour over maps and data to find that super-secret spot that will hold the trophy of a lifetime. But all of that effort goes to waste if the angler does not control the scent hes putting into the water. Consider the following scenario: Youve caught some nice Bluegills that would be perfect for Flatheads. You put your gear in the bed of your pick-up or trunk of your car and head out for a night of ripping lips. You stop on the way to fill up with gas and grab a sandwich and soda for later. You arrive at your destination and the waters perfect. You get a fire going back from the waters edge to keep the light off the water. You set out two or three rods and sit back and wait. And wait. Around two or three in the morning you decide to call it quits after only a couple of smaller cats are landed. Oh well, the big guys must be somewhere else. What you dont know is that two very large cats were on the prowl in your very fishing hole. They sensed the vibrations of the hooked Bluegills and came in to investigate. When they arrived, they were put on alert by several foreign scents. Gasoline was one. It was on your hands from when you filled up the vehicle. Exhaust was another transferred to your line when you put your gear in the back of the vehicle. Onions: from that sandwich you ate around midnight. Tobacco: From the smokes or chew that you put in to keep awake. Smoke: from the fire you started earlier. All of these scents are foreign in the watery world of Catfish. And, just like in deer hunting, can mean the difference between bragging rights and another outing of killing time. So, what to do? First off, dont smoke or chew when youre handling bait. Before you touch the bait, wash your hands with a product designed to eliminate scent...a scent free body wash or soap. Most deer hunters already have this stuff at home or you can order it from any on-line outfitter. Do you put your cut bait on ice to keep if fresh? Well, theres chlorine in the water that made the ice so what does your bait smell like now? Store your rods and reels in a scent free container. I use a PVC pipe with end caps to hold mine but even a large plastic bag will do. Wash your line and reel in a bucket of scent removing detergent or spray it down with a carbon based scent blocking spray again, deer hunters already know of this stuff. Wash your cutting board with river or lake water only. Again, think chlorine from your tap water. I think you get the idea. You need to really sit down and think about how and where all of your equipment is stored and try to eliminate any foreign odor that can come in contact with it. Our favorite target, the Catfish, is one big scent finding machine. From its nostrils to its namesake whiskers to its skin the whole fish can smell whats in the water. Once youve reduced the scent you are putting into the water, you will see a difference in the number and size of large cats that you land. Big fish get big by being wary. Youve got to fool him with a natural presentation and that means eliminating scent. Just dont tell your fishing buddy why youre catching all the big fish let him figure it out on his own! Tight lines.