Dr. Gregory Bambenek knows a good thing when he smells it, and because fish do likewise, this physician and psychiatrist of Duluth, Mn., has made a big name for himself in sportfishing circles across North America. His patients know him as Dr. Bambenek; anglers call him “Dr. Juice.”
“Not until recent years did North American fishermen realize there is more to catching fish than the color, size, configuration and action of baits; they have learned smell can be the most important factor of all,” says Dr. Bambenek who while traveling to India, China, Nepal and the Central American rainforests to study techniques for human healing discovered the extent that scents play in catching fish.
“Traditionally, medicine men of the jungle where, and in many places, still are obliged to catch fish where no one else was catching them to insure the tribe’s survival. So they brewed concoctions that caught fish when nothing else worked.”
“They passed many of these secrets on to me, and combined with my own lifelong interest in fishing and the role scents play in improving success, Dr. Juice now offers products applicable to just about all fishing situations. And we’re becoming much more involved in the role scent also plays in hunting, with much emphasis on big game such as deer.”
“Most of the artificial lures of today are designed to catch the eye of fishermen. They see something fancy, colorful and with lots of glitz, so they buy it. But, what looks good to a fishermen doesn't necessarily look good to a fish. That's where Dr. Juice scents come into the picture.”
Though scents are rapidly gaining popularity among fishermen everywhere today, there remain some skeptics. Dr. Bambenek attributes this to the fact that fishermen are mammals who live in air where scent greatly diminished. “We rely on our eyes and ears; smell plays a lesser role than it does underwater where things are different.”
“Visibility of fish underwater is not as keen as ours in the air; thus fish must rely on scent more than we do, and they're well-equipped to so it. A dog’s sense of smell is one thousand times more sensitive than that of a human, but a fish’s sense of smell is a thousand more times better than a dog's.
“That means a fish can smell one million times better than a man. Because of this astronomical difference, many fishermen have no conception of how really important the sense of smell plays when trying to catch them”
Dr. Bamvenek’s fishing products are not limited to providing life-like scent to artificial lures; lately there have come innovations to make the smell of live baits more important in the aching process. A single drop of one of his scents can rejuvenate the original scent of a live bait, but more important it can also cause a live bait to exhibit characteristics that attract larger sports fish to take it.
Referring to a study published in Germany in 1941, he summed up the process as “Take live minnows or shiners as an example, they have little sacs under the shin that release scents when they are frightened or wounded to make others in the school aware of danger. By duplicating this, the bait being fished not only usually acts the part of being frightened or wounded, but also releases those ‘messages,’ while the artificial attractant broadcasts them even more, And any fishermen knows that nothing attracts predatory fish more than visual and scent distress signals.”
There is still another aspect of the role scent plays in fishing that occupies Dr. Bambenek’s research; how to disguise or otherwise overcome scents that turn fish off. If fish are attracted by things they like, they can also be repelled by things they don't like- and they can detect repellent substances from man at a dilution of one pare per 80 billion, he claims.
Among many scents fish fear and loathe is :-serine, a repugnant amino acid evident in enemies such as man, sea lions and bears. Just baiting a hook can release enough of the scent on the lure to discourage fish, so it must be eliminated- or the fisherman should have someone else bait the hook.
Former President George Bush, who Dr. Bambenek tested at a fishing show in 1988, should be interested in Dr. Juice Hand and Lure Cleaner. “The former president was very high in serine secretions, so much so his fingerprints on a bait can stink up the water and repel fish, says Dr. Bamenek, who has a comparable amino count.
Though most of his time is spent fishing or experimenting with scents wherever different fish and different secrets might lure him, the doctor, a graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School, still practices one day a week. But, he does enough “fun” fishing to admit, “I’m my own best customer.”