Biting Black Flies Can Ruin a Fun Experience

Shawn Kintigh

Have you ever driven to a fishing spot out in the middle of nowhere on Lake Erie only to find that the biting black flies have found you? Its mind boggling to me that they just show up out of nowhere, miles from the nearest shore, with a very big appetite for human flesh. They are so annoying they can actually ruin the fishing experience for many people with their sting-like bite. Some are so nasty that they actually draw blood.

Everyone is different, but for the most part, skin is skin, and flies are attracted to it. I do whole-heartedly believe that the cleanliness of your boat will do more to ward off the swarm than any chemical used to spray yourself down with. A boat full of fish slime will attract them faster than a boat that was scrubbed with bleach, so keeping your boat clean is a must this time of year.

As a moderator on a very large fishing website, I followed a discussion about trips to Canada where the black flies seem to be bigger and more ferocious than anywhere else. There were many suggestions, but a few products were endorsed by more than a handful of people.

Topping the list of safe products to use is Coppertone’s 50 SPF in both the cream or spray form. This is probably a great choice, since it also performs the duty of protecting your skin from dangerous UV rays at the same time. Another product is one that keeps flies off horses, Ultra Shield Green. It’s the one that I use in my boat, and it seems to work while the formula is wet on your skin, but after a while it needs to be reapplied. A homemade mixture of Dawn dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle works too. But, like the Ultra Shield, it seems to lose effectiveness once completely dried and needs to be reapplied several times a day. 

If you’re like me, and don’t like to wear long sleeves or long pants in the heat of summer, then one of these products is bound to work for you, so don’t let biting black flies keep you off the water this season. Good luck and good fishing!

Captain Juls can be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or by phone at 419-835-7347. Her website address is

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