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Dokken: He calls it the ‘Pink Stinky,’ and the name most certainly fits

Try as he might, Dave Hedman of Fargo says he couldn’t find a replacement for the hot, odoriferous ice fishing lure, which apparently got its aroma from something in the paint.

Pink Stinky jig.jpg
The “Pink Stinky” looks like any number of other ice fishing jigs on the market, but something in the paint gives the jigs an unmistakable sulfur aroma. Be glad this isn't scratch-and-sniff.
Brad Dokken/Grand Forks Herald
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Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken

GRAND FORKS – The seeds for this little fish tale were planted about 20 years ago, when Dave Hedman stopped at a convenience store in Greenbush, Minn., en route to Lake of the Woods from his home in Fargo.

“This guy that worked at the store, he says, ‘Do you want to outfish your buddies this weekend?’ ” Hedman said, recalling the encounter. “I said, ‘I’m sure I will, but keep talking.’ ”

Seeing he now had Hedman hooked, the clerk held up a glow-in-the-dark pink jig they were selling in the store.

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Known as “Aulneau Jack” to some, Wollack made a solo canoe trip around the Aulneau Peninsula on the Ontario side of Lake of the Woods when he was 75 years old.

“He said, ‘Smell it,’” Hedman said. “I smelled it, and I go, ‘Holy (buckets)! That thing smells like rotten eggs – sulfur.’

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“And he says, ‘That’s it. That’s the ticket.’ ”

So began the story of the jig Hedman dubbed the “Pink Stinky.”

Set the hook and reel him in.

“I said, I’m certainly going to buy one and give it a go,” Hedman said.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“That thing was absolutely lights out,” Hedman said. “I described it as the closest thing I’ve seen to magic as far as getting the walleyes to go. When I’d put one on and dip it in the water, people were going, ‘Throw that thing outside!’

“I used it for years and years,” he added. “I caught gobs of fish on it, but the hook finally gave out.”

Eelpout also loved it, Hedman recalls.

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IMG_2867.JPG
Dave Hedman of Fargo with a Lake of the Woods walleye he most likely caught on his favorite ice fishing lure: the “Pink Stinky.”
Contributed/Dave Hedman

Try as he might, Hedman says, he couldn’t find a replacement for the hot, odoriferous ice fishing lure, which apparently got its aroma from something in the paint. There was no packaging with the jig, no label, and apparently was just one of those local inventions that find their way into bait shops and C-stores every so often.

Hedman decided to call Tom’s Tackle, a Baudette, Minn.-based company that makes a variety of fishing lures and accessories, to see if they might be able to duplicate the jig.

“They got more and more interested the more I told the story,” Hedman said. The woman he talked with said she would make some calls and get back to him.

“I told her I believe the key is the stink, and the pink glow,” he said. There’s no clear-coat on the paint, which allows the aroma to have maximum effect.

“She contacted several of her suppliers, and they had people go out in the warehouses to open up cans of paint to try to find something pink that really stunk,” Hedman said. “She called me back about two weeks later, and she had some, and she said, ‘Yeah, this is the pink, stinky stuff.’”

Hedman says he’s had Tom’s Tackle make up “20-30” of the jigs for him over the years. The style of jig is called a Choker on the Tom’s Tackle website, but Hedman has the only versions that reek.

He sent me a handful of the jigs last week to try, and while I haven’t had a chance to use them, I can definitely vouch for the aroma; the “Pink Stinky” is well-named.

“Fishing’s fishing, and some days you’re not going to catch them,” he said. “But if you’ve got fish down there, and they’re not doing anything on the other jigs, generally, that Stinky’s going to get ‘em.”

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Hedman, who is retired from Ferguson Enterprises in Fargo, said he’s given away several of the jigs over the years. None of them, however, can match the reek factor of that first jig he got talked into buying in Greenbush all those years ago.

His collection of custom “Pink Stinky” jigs includes both one-eighth and one-quarter ounce versions. He’ll use the smaller version on a set line and jig with the larger size.

Terri Hedman walleye.JPG
Terri Hedman of Fargo holds a nice walleye she caught on a "Pink Stinky" during a trip to Lake of the Woods' Northwest Angle between Christmas and New Year's.
Contributed/Dave Hedman

“I’ve had people use them for crappies and perch, and one guy told me they were crappie fishing, and he said it was hands-down – there was no doubt about it that they preferred that over anything,” Hedman said. “My belief in them is, I mean, fishing is fishing, but for fish that aren’t active, I’ve had fabulous luck with it. That’s why I believe it’s the smell. You have gobs of stuff that glows – but do you have anything that stinks?”

Hedman and his wife, Terri, were up at the Northwest Angle before New Year’s for a few days of ice fishing out of Angle Outpost Resort. As expected, the “Pink Stinky” produced.

“I’m not trying to sell anything,” he said. “Most of the ones I bought, I give them away, tell people to them to try them out and see what they see.

“I’ve kind of got a reputation for spreading them around.”

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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