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What Do Fish Smell? The Science of Fishing with Scents

Knowing how fish react to certain smells can help anglers trigger more strikes.

What Do Fish Smell? The Science of Fishing with Scents

When a fish detects amino acids, the message is, food is nearby. (Shutterstock image)

Every time we hit the water, we use baits and lures to deliver a set of sensory inputs designed to elicit strikes from fish. The critical fishy senses that we must appeal to include sight, hearing/vibration, smell and taste. Many of these work much like their parallel senses in land animals, but others have evolved in distinct ways for aquatic organisms.

For example, a fish's senses of hearing and vibration work together, gathering inputs from the bony otoliths in its inner ears, as well as from its unique lateral line system, to detect pressure changes and movements in the surrounding water. Likewise, a fish's unique sense of smell—its ability to detect and respond to...

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