Clean Carp Gear

How to Keep Your Carp Fishing Gear From Smelling Like Fish?

We’ve all been there, tired after a successful carp fishing session, slugging all your gear home and packing it away only to be approached by your significant other about that foul odour emanating from the garage!


Carp Gear Smell
Carp Fishing Gear Drying on Fence

So how do you keep your fishing gear from smelling like fish? The easiest way is to give it a quick rinse with the hose, this will wash away any slime left on the fabric. Next, let it dry in the sun to allow Ultra-Violet Rays to kill any bacteria left on the fabric, thus eliminating any odour.


When time and money are an issue, this can be the most cost-effective way to keep your gear from smelling. If you have more time, a little more effort can keep your gear smelling better than new. I will describe below the steps I take to keep my nets and carp care gear smelling fresh between sessions.


Properly Cleaning and Storing Carp Gear

This year after attending the Canada Carp Cup, a 4 day Carp Fishing Tournament on the St. Lawrence River, I was sure to rinse and dry all my gear before putting it away.

  • When I arrived home, I dumped all my gear into my dog’s plastic swimming pool in the backyard. The small pool is about 5 feet in diameter and 1 foot deep. (Depending on how much gear you have, a storage tote will also work well for this.)
  • I had 4 NGT Mesh Keep Sacks, 1 Nash Dwarf Mat, 1 NGT Weigh Sling, 1 Sonik 42” Landing Net and Multiple Towels used from the trip. All of which smelled quite fishy.
  • I then added a bit of laundry detergent, stirred it and let it all sit for 10 – 20 minutes. 
  • After letting it soak, I pulled it all out and hung it over my fence in the sun. (The clothesline was already full. Otherwise, I would’ve used it.)
  • I gave it a quick spray with the hose to rinse it and let it air dry for a few hours.
  • Once it was thoroughly dry, I hung it away in the garage until the next trip.
Stinky Carp Gear

All the fabric gear that I used smelled even better than it was new, with a fresh laundry scent. I have done this before as well without the detergent. Just rinsing the gear in the water and allowing it to dry in the sun makes the fishy odour nearly undetectable. Even my dog couldn’t get enough of the fresh smell.


Reasons Why You Should Clean and Dry Your Carp Gear Between Sessions.

  • To prevent the spread of diseases or invasive species when fishing in different bodies of water regularly.
  • To prevent wear and tear, prolonging the lifespan of your gear. We spend enough money on fishing as it is without having to replace things due to improper storage!
  • To keep the misses happy. (Perhaps the most important and motivating reason!)
  • *Quick Tip: Do Not use the new washer and dryer to clean your carp gear.*
  • To prevent it from smelling like the sweet smell of success all carp anglers love.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Bleach or Harsh Chemicals To Clean Your Carp Fishing Gear

I hear of many anglers using chemicals to clean and disinfect their gear between each session to rid it of fishy smells. I stay away from such practices as the harsh chemicals will eventually break down the fabric meshing of your nets and keep sacks.

Aside from the added wear and tear on your gear, some of these products can be quite pricey. I prefer to rinse and dry gear naturally as it’s cheap (just like me!) and quite effective.


How to Keep Your Car or Truck from Smelling Like Fish When Transporting Your Gear

It is both a blessing and a curse for carp anglers to have such an array of gear at our disposal. All the bits and bobs that make our life easier and more enjoyable on the bank can also cause issues when having to transport it.

If you’re like me and have a family, you’ve most likely sold your truck and purchased a car, minivan or SUV. Sure it’s handy for trucking around all the kids and pets, but what do you do with all that stinky slimy carp fishing gear?

Storage Totes

When travelling from the bank to the house, slip all your wet gear into a storage tote and seal the lid. I’ve had days where I forgot to clip the lid down. It is amazing how long that smell can linger!

Waterproof Bags

I use a waterproof north face duffle bag to carry and store my camera equipment while fishing. If I don’t have any of the above items, I simply empty all of my camera gear and zip up my wet stinky gear inside the waterproof bag. It is much easier to wash the bag than to clean the entire vehicle interior.

Stink Net Sleeves

Made specifically by carp fishing manufacturers for carp anglers. These sleeves are waterproof and scent proof. They will keep the water and smell locked in for travel. They work much like a dry bag. Insert the wet gear, roll down the top and seal it with velcro or a clip. Very practical and looks cool too! (The only downside is the price tag.)

Bait Buckets

Whether using a 5-gallon pail or a custom bait bucket, simply rinse the bucket, stow your wet gear inside and seal the lid for transportation.

One time on a quick session, I forgot all these items and had to transport my wet gear for a short trip across town directly on the carpet. I had to wash the fabric thoroughly with a handheld carpet cleaner and then let it dry in the sun with the door open. Luckily this worked but was a lot of effort that could have easily been avoided.


The Dangers of Storing Wet Carp Fishing Gear in Sealed Containers for Long Periods of Time

Some carp anglers purchase specialized sleeves, large Ziploc bags or laundry sacks that seal the smell in. This can often create more problems than it solves. Only use these products for short periods such as travel or with dry gear.

  • Sealing away wet gear will cause it to break down quicker and reduce its lifespan.
  • It will also encourage the growth of bacteria and any other diseases that may be present from the previous fish that have come into contact with it.
  • If left for days, it will eventually start to mould.

How to Remove the Fish Smell from Your Hands.

This is a tricky subject for me. Sometimes no matter what I do, only time can wash away that fishy smell.

The best product that I’ve used to get rid of the fishy smell from my hands is GOJO Hand Cleaner or Fast Orange Hand Cleaner. Scrubbing my hands vigorously with this cleaner from my shop gets rid of most of the smell and masks the rest with a fresh citrus scent.


Tips for Keeping Your Gear Smelling Fresh on the Bank.

Some quick tips to keep your gear smelling its finest on the bank. I like to do these additional little things as it helps keeps nuisance animals away at night like raccoons and skunks. It’s bad enough they eat my bait I don’t need them gnawing on my gear as well!

Rinse Your Landing Net

After each catch, be sure to rinse your net quickly in the water. This will also help to prevent the spread of disease between fish. Even though a fish may look healthy, it could be carrying something unseen.

Keep a Pail of Water on Hand

I always have a small pail of water for rinsing my unhooking mats. I use a full pail of water to douse the mat before putting the fish on it and another full pail to rinse it afterwards.

Prop Your Landing Net Upright

After rinsing your landing net, prop it up on a tree or rock if you can. This will allow it to dry quicker in the wind and sun.

Leave Keep Sacks and Keep Nets in the Water

Keeping sacks in the water is best if fishing for a prolonged period. This will allow the current to wash away any slime and smell. It also keeps them wet and at a better temperature to keep the fish you catch healthier by reducing the time they’re out of the water.


In conclusion, many products and chemicals are available to today’s carp angler, but in my opinion, the “go-to” method is simply to rinse your gear and let the sun do the job for you.

Check out our Recommended Carp Care Gear Page for more information on Carp Care Equipment.

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