Terrestrials are effective bait for panfish as they are normally thought of as living their entire life on land. They include worms, grubs, grasshoppers and crickets. Grasshoppers and crickets are an important part of the fishing scene even if not well known.

Crickets/grasshoppers have a hard exoskeleton, which is helpful in keeping them on a hook. They are plant eaters and can be very destructive to agriculture.

Although usually thought of as good panfish bait, grasshoppers and crickets catch bass and trout. Both insects are available at bait shops or caught in the field.

Grasshoppers are sluggish and slow in the cool early morning hours. It is an easy task to collect them by hand and hold them in a glass jar with holes punched in the top. To keep them in the sluggish state place the jar periodically in an ice chest during the day.

Catch them by walking through high grass or other vegetation waving a butterfly net in a figure eight pattern. A number of crickets, grasshoppers and other insects also get caught up in the net. It does not take a lot of effort to catch enough for a day of fishing.

Still another way to catch grasshoppers is by two people holding a wool blanket up, facing into the wind. A third person runs through the grass toward the blanket. The insect’s legs tangle in the blanket.  Pick the creatures off the fabric.

Catch both crickets and grasshoppers at night by hand with the use of a flashlight. Again, they are usually more sluggish at night in the cooler temperatures. They can be spotted with the flashlight and picked up with a quick hand.

Storage of terrestrials requires room. There are some commercial bait keepers and all seem to work well. A homemade keeper can be constructed from a two pound coffee can with a plastic lid.

Cut a small hole in the top, leaving a flap of plastic in place. When you want an insect, one simply opens the flap and shakes the can until one appears. Close the flap to keep others from getting out. A piece of tape placed over the flap to keeps it closed. Other holes punched in the top provide a good flow of air.

Place fresh damp grass placed inside to accommodate the insects. If kept in a cool area, the insects will last for several weeks. If one wants to keep them longer, freeze them. They can be unfrozen and used later. Obviously dead, they will still be soft and pliable making them stay on the hook and still be appealing to fish.

Hooking is simple. If a small wire hook is used, it is best to hook the insect through the collar area. Larger hooks require impaling the bug with the head of the insect toward the line end of the hook. Hooks in the 6, 8, or 10 size are preferred.

Fish grasshoppers using a split shot and a small bobber. This works well for panfish or trout. If fishing for catfish, perhaps a slip sinker rig is better.

In fishing insects, it is important to keep the bait light and free from snags and weeds. Casting an un-weighted insect into clear water near structure will allow it to sink near to the bottom. If it gets on the bottom, chances are that it will entangle itself and will be lost. It is advisable to look for shoreline areas that provide cover. Cast beyond the cover into the open water. Look also for slow water near structure to allow the bait to flow slowly.

Fishing with terrestrials is slow fishing. Allow bait to settle slowly. Then twitch very gingerly. Quick movement of an insect is unnatural in water.  It spooks fish.

Why not give terrestrial fishing a try this year.


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