There are many outdoors pursuits I like about
the month of October, but one of the greatest is one of the smallest--I
call it throwin’ naturals. It’s a form of fishing . . . natural baits .
. . insects.
Most often I am thinking of big, yellow, flightless
grasshoppers when my mind wanders--and so do I--as thoughts of throwin’
naturals cross my decrepit mind. But there are many adults and larval stages
(instars, if you prefer) in the insect kingdom that simply drive fish mad.
Take, for example, one of my fishing rambles of
many years ago. This is not one that I care to admit--it involves what
I recognize now as a monarch butterfly larvae. I was fishing (alone) in
a small boat and had used grasshoppers for bait without a lot of success
when this beautiful wormy-type (obviously a larvae) came crawling up one
leg of my trousers.
How nice, I thought, and snatched up this critter.
A quick change to a to a slightly smaller wire hook and soon I was dunking
larvae, hooked lightly at the middle. You know the results, of course.
Almost in the blink of an eye I was fighting a
nice bass, and before I lost the bait two more bass followed the path into
the boat. This was in the days that we ate 'em.
As I said before, you never know how good the
insect you see will be as fish bait. Lots of naturals are fantastic.
I think those big yellow flightless hoppers best
of all because they tend to be easier to catch, especially in late summer
and into fall when nights grow chilly. Aside from the fact that you can
catch them with your bare hands or a small net on a long handle and store
them in a coffee can, there are many ways to get your bait, even seine
them with a minnow seine in stubbleand weed fields.
One time, many years ago, a Noblesville angler
told me of such an experience. A most reputable man of the community, he
said he and a son were seining minnows when they decided on the way home
they could use some hoppers. So (clad in hip boots, straw hats, and bib
overalls), they we catching hoppers by dragging a minnow seine through
a wheat-stubble field.
Two guys in a Model T became so enthralled with
this strange activity that their car left the road and lightly hit a utility
The car backed onto the road and was making dust
as its occupants scratched their heads getting out of there.
Most of my insect fishing technique is based on
fishing those big yellow grasshoppers.
When I want to fish other natural baits, I simply
alter my methods. This may involve changing hooks, to have the right size
to match the size of the bait, adding or using less weight (split-shot
or wrap-on sinkers, bobbers, and any other modifications).
The big issue is wrapped around the fact
that you want the hook (it should be wire because wire is lighter) is a
good match the bait in size. This, of course, does not mean that you can’t
use a large hook with a small bait. With many natural baits especially
those big, yellow grasshoppers) a long-shanked wire hook is right, but
as what I think of as big, black pasture crickets become available, I tie
on a smaller-gapped hook, shorter hook. Same with other smaller insects.
Incidentally, those afore-mentioned crickets,
and some others--including some worms) are right at home under dried-up
cow pies. They like the cow pies a little moister, too, but that can be
messy, although it may help break an angler of chewing his/her fingernails.
One of the other good features of fishing live
and natural baits will be found in the fact that they can be fished wet
(under water at varying depths) or dry (on the surface). To put the bait
where I want it, I use both split shot of various sizes, and wrap on strips
of pounded out lead. The 22-caliber rifle bullet cab be pounded out to
make excellent strips of wrap-on. But use only the lead projectile. The
casing might explodeb.
For many years I used strips of lead toothpaste
tubes. Small bobbers will also be handy on some occasions. Ice-fishing
bobbers are excellent to keep an insect off the bottom.
I look for deep holes of streams and rivers, but
natural live insects are good in lakes, ponds and other waters. The idea
with this thinking is to find the spots where fish spend the bright part
of the day, like under drifted wood or around rocks. Even live hoppers
and insects fail if the fish are not where you put the bait.
One time many years ago I was lunching in a downtown
(Indianapolis) eatery when I (by approximation) eavesdropped a pair of
well-dressed gents. I couldn’t keep from hearing this one fellow telling
his lunch partner about floating a grasshopper back under a willow tree
and pulling it into the water at the right time to catch a nice bass.
I didn’t know either of them, but the fellow telling
the story showed up in a municipal court a few days later representing
a client (it seems he was an attorney), and he got quite a charge about
reeling both me and the bass in again. His story, without his name, had
already appeared in my newspaper column. I have always thought it made
a good item.
October is, as noted earlier, known for many outdoor
activities--hunting, fishing, and just plane nature--that have been published
over the years. You will find them by the month and year in the “archive”
pages of this site.