While talking around the campfire on a chilly fall night, we watched the trail of smoke slowly descend along the lake shore. This raised the question, does the smell of smoke scare trout?
This in turn, brings up a second question. How about the smoke of cigarettes? Nicotine is known to be a fish poison after all.
Does campfire smoke scare fish?
I have spent many hours sitting beside a campfire while wetting a line. I have also countless fish, so just anecdotally I do not believe that the smoke alone is enough to keep fish away. After all, the fish are shielded away from the smoke by the water. I doubt they even know it is there.
While I do not think the smoke is a major concern, what might scare fish is the flickering light from the flames. The ‘unknown’ glow from the surface could very easily be enough to keep a trout from getting close. When casting far from shore, it does not matter. But the light can certainly keep wary trout from entering the shallows nearby.
Overall, unless you have a large fire, right next to the water edge it is not much to worry about.
Does cigarette smoke scare fish?
Over the years, I have meet many fishermen who hold a fly rod in one hand, and a cigarette or cigar in the other. They catch plenty of fish. Some even spit on the lure for good luck. When presenting a lure or fly, in such a way that the trout will strike it out of visual recognition the scent of tobacco does not seem to be a deterrent.
Where I think it might have an impact is when fishing real bait. I keep thinking of fishing with a mate of mine. He is an accomplished fishermen and excellent caster. He catches plenty of trout are other fish.
But we have been on multiple night fishing trips together. Where we dead drift whole minnows in stillwater. I catch plenty of large fish, and despite copying my tackle and technique down to the most minute of details he has never managed to land a single large fish on our trips together. I personally put it down to a fishing jinx.
But there is one important detail which separates us. On the way to the fishing spot, he usually lights up and smokes a large cigar. Is the scent his fingers enough to scare of any large fish which might decide to smell his minnows. They do like to taste before committing to the take. I can not prove it, and it might just be bad luck (Or striking too fast) but there is a real possibility that the tobacco scent is contaminating the bait which is enough to freighten the wary fish.