Welcome to our new blog. We plan to feature articles by Texas fishermen who are skilled in the art of catching sunfish. If you would like to join our group please feel welcome. If you would like to post on this site please contact me at lilburn@uwmail.com. I have contacted many of you, and I await hearing from you and receiving your first article. Please limit your posts to how-to articles and stories about your fishing experiences. The more pictures the better. Controversial items, criticism of TPWD, and such should best be posted on the TFF or other forum. If you decide to post on a regular basis I will need a picture of you, your real name and your website if you have one. You will be added to the sidebar as one of our fishermen. No handles or avatars, please.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Raising Mealworms


Today we welcome Charles Burnett as our guest author.

Charles  is new to the fishing world. He picked up the sport early in 2011.  A transplant from California, he works in Information Technology field as a project manager. He posts to the TFF regularly as "drrouter".

When I first began fishing for bluegill, all I used were lures.  Fishing with Rooster Tail spinners or Rapala lures, I quickly learned that this was an expensive way to fish, especially for someone new.  Missed casts, unseen cover that constantly snagged my hooks all contributed to the expense (and frustration!) of my fishing trips.

After joining the Texas Fishing Forum, I began to learn that live bait was, in all likelihood, a more effective and less costly alternative to artificial bait.  At first, I just started using a combination of night crawlers and red wigglers, experimenting with all sorts of setups.   Transitioning from expensive lures to real bait not only improved my fishing, but lowered the cost of my newly found hobby.

During one of my visits to the local Academy Sports store, I noticed small cups of “mealworms”.  I didn’t know what they were used for specifically, so I did a bit of research and learned that they were very effective for catching sunfish.   Over the next few weeks I fished with mealworms almost exclusively; I found them to work as well for catching sunfish as regular live worms – and definitely less messy!  However, the quality of mealworms at Academy suffered dramatically.  I would find the cups half empty, worms near death, etc. so I began to look online for a different source.  I quickly figured out that it was easier and less expensive to raise them yourself than it was to buy them.

mealworms1Raising mealworms is about as easy as it gets.  First, you will need some sort of container that has walls that are at least 2 inches high on both sides.  I have found that the 3 drawer storage bins are very effective.  Mealworms will need three things to breed well; a source of food (Oatmeal works best for this), a source of water (carrots, celery) and a bit of structure for them to lay their eggs.

Your first step after buying your container is to buy some small or medium sized mealworms.  You do not want mealworms that are labeled “Giant”; these have been sprayed with a hormone which allows them to grow larger but they will not molt into beetles and breed.  You also don’t need many mealworms: 25 or so worked for me when I purchased them at Petsmart.  Next you’ll need to put your substrate down (a fancy word for about 1.5” of oatmeal), add the worms, some carrot pieces and you are set.

mealworms2Mealworms do not like cold temperatures, so if you want to breed them, you’ll need to keep your farm at room temp.  Make sure you continue to give them a slice of carrot every 2-3 days.  You can use any type of vegetable that isn’t overly acidic.  I have used leftover lettuce, cucumbers, apples, potatoes, etc.  Just be careful to take out anything that becomes moldy (lettuce and carrots work best for me).

A mealworm farm takes a couple of months to establish.  At first you’ll see small little pencil-lead sized meal worms, usually in the corners.  They will grow larger over time, ending up at about 1” long before they molt into pupa.  It takes about 3-5 weeks after the first signs of newly hatched mealworms for them to be of size suitable for fishing.  You’ll want to leave about half your mealworms in your farm, so they can molt into pupa.  The pupa stage will last about a week, after which mealworms will turn into beetles.  A lot of pupa won’t make it through to the stage of becoming a beetle, so don’t be alarmed if many of them die during this phase. 

After your initial batch of worms, depending upon your consumption rate, you will need to truncate your farm.  Beetles will produce rapidly and soon your initial farm will be overgrown.  I only use mealworms for myself; I don’t sell them, etc. so I’ll occasionally prune the farm, throwing excess mealworms into the local pond.  It’s my experience that you only need 20-25 beetles to sustain a farm that provides enough worms for fishing.

mealworms3After your farm is established, every few months or so, you’ll need to sift through your bins and transfer your mealworms to new substrate.  This is very important.  Your mealworms are eating, eliminating waste, etc. in their home and over time this will affect the health of the colony. 

To use mealworms for fishing, I use empty pill bottles with a bit of oats in them for transport.  I also recommend using either fly or very small 10 or 12 sized hooks.  You can utilize mealworms as you would any other live bait, with a drop shot, under a bobber, etc.  However, the most effective method I have used is a weighted bobber with the hook 10-12” below, allowing the mealworm to gently sink, as if it just fell from a tree.

Mealworms can be an easy, inexpensive and fun way to raise your own bait.  I still use other live baits, but during the spring, summer and early fall seasons I have found that mealworms are a very effective, low cost way for catching sunnies!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Do It Yourself Alabama Rig For Sunfish

Alabama Rig for panfish
A Do It Yourself Alabama Rig for Panfish

The Alabama rig has enjoyed a great deal of publicity lately. Since it was used to win a FTW tournament the bass world has been sharply divided on whether to allow it or not. BASS has banned it. All seem to agree that it is a good way to catch bass.

I have an infected tooth that is confining me to the house. I can't even eat, so I have been climbing up the wall to find something to do. I cleaned up and rearranged my tackle bags. I watched numerous videos, including one which pointed out that the Alabama Rig is actually an old striper technique. It occurred to me that if it catches whites and stripers and the sunfish family of bass that it might catch panfish as well.

Alabama Rigs from the tackle companies sell for anywhere from $10.00 to $50.00. It occurred to me that since I was under house arrest for illness anyway that I should be able to build a credible rig out of supplies on hand.

The key item is a tube of .032 piano wire that I have on hand to build radio controlled model airplanes. So if you want to duplicate my project go to the local RC hobby shop and ask for K&S stock number 501 .032 wire. You will get a tube of four 36-inch pieces of wire. It should cost about $1.50 per tube of four wires.

Cut a five-inch piece of wire and bend a u-shaped hook on one end. Slip a barrel swivel over the hook and then bind the end with fine copper wire. I robbed my copper wire from a short piece of flexible automotive wire, Neatly wind about five turns of wire to hold the swivel on the wire so that it is free to move. Solder the copper binding securely. See photo1.

Next drill a .032 hole in the center of a dime. That may turn out to be the most difficult part of this project. Dimes are made of a sandwich of nickel and copper, and the resulting clad metal is harder than a witch's heart. Just be careful not to hurt yourself or break the .032 drill.

Take one piece of your wire and cut it exactly in half. Then bend each piece into a right angle at the center.  Find a piece of scrap cardboard bigger than 18 inch by 18 inches and place the dime in the center. Stick the 5-inch piece of wire in the hole in the dime with the swivel up. Push the wire through until about 2 inches of wire is left. Now arrange your right angle pieces as shown in photo 2 and tape the wire down to the cardboard so that it will not move. Now solder the wires to the dime. Use lots of solder and get the wire hot so that the solder flows. The soldered assembly is shown in photo 3.

Now bend a hook in the other end of the center wire. Slip a barrel swivel on and bind and solder. At this point you should have an assembly which looks like photo 4.

Measure 4 inches from the center of the dime along any one of the wires. Bend a right angle in the wire pointed in the direction of the short swivel. Then bend the wire back forming a hook for a snap swivel that is 1/2 inch long. It will be clearer if you look at photo 5.

 Bind and solder.

At the end of the wire form a similar  1/2 inch hook and place a swivel. Bind and solder.  Do the same for the other wires and your rig should look like photo 6.

That finishes the bending and assembly. Now we have only to bait our rig. The Alabama Rig is supposed to mimic a school of bait fish. Our rig has 8 tightly grouped fish and a straggler. The idea is that the crappie or bluegill will be forced by his killer instinct to pick off the straggler.

I used Bobby Garland baby shad on number 4 hooks. Make up 9 baits and put 8 of them on the snap swivels. Then take about 8 inches of 6 pound test line and make up the center bait so that it drops about 6 inches behind the school. See photo 7.

Some versions of the rig have swept back wires. Our rig is straight out, but pulling it through the water will make the arms bend back. If desired the wires can be bent at the dime for a more swept back look.

As I mentioned at the beginning I am confined to the house by illness. When I recover I will take the rig to Lake Mineral Wells and see if it fools the fishes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lake Mineral Wells Under a Comanche Moon

Comanche Moon
Fishing Lake Mineral Wells Under a Comanche Moon

For you non-Texans and young whippersnappers, a Comanche moon is a full moon on a bright, clear night. At 3:30 this morning the moon was so bright that it cast shadows like daylight. The term originated in the 1800's when the Comanche Indians would raid and pillage when the moon was full and bright. They had a regular route through South Texas to Mexico and back. The Comanche moon struck terror in the hearts of the early Texas settlers.

This morning I loaded the pickup under the bright moon and arrived at Lake Mineral Wells State Park just as the automatic gate opened at 6:03 AM. The gate out of the park opens on time at 6:00. But the gate into the park is 3 minutes late.

Lake Mineral Wells has a number of fishing piers. All of them but one require a long hike over rough terrain. The one exception is the lighted, handicap-access pier at the marina. For those of us with mobility problems that pier is outstanding. It is built in a deep-water cove so it is actually possible to catch fish, and it is wheelchair access. Four mercury vapor lights make it as light as day.

This morning I had the pier to myself until one other fisherman arrived. I put on a jig in the Electric Chicken pattern on a 1/32-oz. pink jig head. I cast into the edge of the light and slowly retrieved the jig. It only went a foot or two when a feisty 11-inch black bass grabbed it. I took a photo and sent him back to grow up.

Two casts later I caught a slightly bigger bass. What is going on? Don't those bass know I am fishing for panfish? A short time later the big brother of the first two grabbed my lure and headed out into the main lake. With 6 pound test line on an ultra-light rig I watched helplessly as the fish stripped line and broke the light line. I backed way off on the drag (ever hear about the farmer who built a secure barn after the horse was stolen?).

The crappie were obviously not in the cove after the cold front. I tried a while longer then took the lure off and tied on a #8 hook baited with a worm. My signature rig is a slip bobber over a small hook and sinker just off the bottom. However, after my experiences at Fairfield and Bluegill Lakes I knew that I would catch fewer but bigger fish without the bobber and slowly retrieving the hook and sinker across the bottom. I cast out and slowly brought the hook back to the pier over the bottom. A 7-inch Bluegill took issue and nailed the worm.

Now a 7-inch bluegill is not very impressive after the 10-inch fish at Bluegill Lakes last week, but it is about as big as they get at Lake Mineral Wells. I continued to catch small Bluegill for the next two hours. Along the way I caught a 13-inch catfish.

The sunfish were small but very healthy and in beautiful colors. I released them all, knowing they were not going to get much bigger in that lake. The lake record is 7.13 inches and several of mine were almost that long. I keep trying for an 8-9 inch fish.

My limited stamina gave out, and I headed for home.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bluegill Lake Cabins

Bluegill Lake Cabins
Bluegill Lake Cabins

Do you want to go to a place where you can catch all the sunfish you want in rustic pine covered surroundings? Recently I noticed an item on the Texas Fishing Forum about a place called Bluegill Lake Cabins. It was a small mention but it caught my eye so I searched for the name on Google and found this website. I called the number and talked to an interesting gentleman named Devon Weatherford. Turns out he and his wife Judy own 32 acres in the Texas piney woods near Canton. On this land are several small lakes, the Weatherford farmhouse and four rustic cabins, which the Weatherfords rent.

Devon told me the lakes are heavily stocked with sunfish, bass, catfish and tulip but with emphasis on the sunfish, which are fed and managed for size and numbers.

The place sounded too good to be true, but I reserved the smallest cabin for my wife and I for two nights about two weeks in advance. My wife, the best selling author Caroline Clemmons, has just finished her latest novel and wanted to decompress, and I wanted to catch sunfish.

We arrived at the cabins on Thursday morning just ahead of a weekend-long thunderstorm. The cabin we choose is called the Feed Store Cabin because that it what it once was. Devon restored it to its original appearance and outfitted it. It has a television with Dish TV, a stove, microwave, air conditioning, a queen-sized bed, and a bathroom with an old claw-footed tub. It is completely hidden in the pines and only about a hundred yards from two of the ponds.

I barely had the car unloaded before I was on the A-Frame cabin dock. Unlike the Feed Store, The A-Frame Cabin is right on the water of the largest pond, and it has a dock attached to the back porch. Devon graciously invited me to fish on the docks of any of the unoccupied cabins.

This is the A-Frame Cabin.

I rigged my favorite ultra light rig with a slip bobber and impaled a cricket. I caught a Bluegill on every cast and on the fourth or fifth cast I caught this big fella.

Now I realize this fish is no record, but you have to remember I am used to 6 or 7 inch Bluegill from the area lakes.

I caught sunfish one after the other. Some were caught on crickets, some on worms, and a few on a little gold Mepp's spinner. I included the Redear to illustrate there were several species, and put the little 7-inch Bluegill to illustrate a point. Back home in Lake Weatherford I would have been thrilled to catch a batch of fish that size. Here they were bait stealers. How fickle we are.

I sat on the dock and hauled one big Bluegill after another for two or three hours until I noticed the sky suddenly get dark and ominous thunder and lightning.  It started raining. I was willing to get wet, but sitting on a dock in a lightning storm is not how I got to be 75 years old. I beat it back to the cabin. I spent the rest of the day reading a paperback in the dry and air-conditioned cabin. That was not why I was paying $110 bucks a day.

The next morning my oldest daughter Stephanie drove down to fish with me. We started at the A-frame dock again, but Devon suggested we try the dock behind Rose's Cabin instead because the bigger Bluegill hung out at that end of the lake.

We sat on the dock and caught literally hundreds of fish of all sizes and several species. We caught native Bluegills, hybrid bluegills, coppernose Bluegills, Warmouth, and bass, all on crickets and worms. At first we fished with a slip bobber but I lost so many of the Thill 3-buck premium bobbers that I took my last one off and began fishing tight line on the bottom. It was the best move of the day. I caught my biggest and most fish after I ditched the bobber.

We fished until 1000 crickets and a trash bucket of worms were gone. We caught hundreds.  For the first time in my long life I was tired of catching fish. We let them all go. I was on vacation, not cleaning fish.

If you want to go to the cabins, call Devon and Judy Weatherford on 903-479-3554. The cabins run $110 - $150 per day for two people. Additional persons are $10. They are located between Canton and Athens off Highway 19.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our Tax Money Well Spent

I do not always agree with government personnel who manage or mismanage our tax money. My battles with TPWD, the City of Weatherford Utility Board and the Somervell County Water District are epic.

However, one agency commands my utmost respect: the City of Weatherford Parks and Recreation Department. Our acquaintance goes back many years, starting when I was chairman of the Field Day program of the local Amateur Radio club. I have found that this agency actually wants to serve the public.

The Parks and Recreation Department owns three lakes within city parks: Sunshine Lake in Cartwright Park, Holland Lake Park Pond and Love Street Park Pond. Sunshine Lake is an old 30-acre lake originally built to supply water to steam locomotives. It has a good population of bass, crappie, catfish and carp.

Holland Lake Park Pond is the location of two youth fishing events every year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Holland Lake is also stocked several times a year. Fish commonly caught in the lake include Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, Bass, Sunfish, and Trout.

Love Street Park Pond is the latest acquisition and the subject of our blog today.

Love Street Park is the newest of the parks with ponds. The pond was built in 2009 and stocked with exactly 10 adult largemouth bass, 30 adult bluegill and 804 fingerling channel catfish. In 2011 612 more fingerling channel catfish were added.

The 30 bluegill have been busy. They spawned in 2010 and 2011. And the pond is now wall to wall with small bluegill. I have been able to identify two distinct populations. One group is roughly 4-5 inches long and the other is roughly 5-6 inches long. I assume that corresponds with the two spawns. Both groups are fat and healthy.

Now comes a puzzle. I also caught several yellow bullhead catfish. Neither the city nor TPWD stocked the pond with yellow bullheads. They got in the lake as passengers on birds or someone dumped them there. They were all alike: roughly 8 inches long.

The city built a really nice fishing pier and a bridge over the small creek. Both were built of cedar and looked to be of quality construction. They provided the best access to the deep water for fishing. Then came a problem: the pier and bridge were condemned as unsafe, although to my eye they were built like a battleship. The Parks people had to barricade them in February 2011 and secure funds to rebuild them. The pier reopened last week sporting a composition floor and welded iron railings. The bridge is still closed.

This picture shows the bridge. Notice the wooden rail.
 Now notice the snazzy welded rail on the pier.

I look forward to watching the bluegill grow long and feisty and catching the channel cats for the skillet. And I am grateful to the folks at the Parks and Recreation Department for their services to children and old retired folks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A How-To Guide in Women's Fishing

Our guest blog was written by Ashley Meadows, better known by the Texas Fishing Forum fishers as Aquatic Ash. Ashley grew up in the Texas hill country. She has fished and hunted all her life at her father's game ranch as well as other various places all over Texas. Ash enjoys fishing, both in saltwater in Rockport/Port A and freshwater in local areas in the hill country but her favorite place to fish is Lady Bird Lake out of her kayak.
She currently lives in Austin with her husband and loves being outdoors and enjoys a variety of sports.

Ash has a degree in Radiology. She is sometimes called upon to work long hours but manages to work in fishing and posting on TFF in the Bluegill/Sunfish section.

This remarkable  lady writes to give us fishing from a woman's perspective.

A How-To Guide in Women's Fishing

In modern times, it isn't rare to see a female out fishing with a spouse, friend or even solo. But for some, the sport/hobby is considered a man's outing. It can be intimidating for first timers that have zero experience in fishing and want nothing to do with touching a fish or bait.

There are a few key things that can be utilized to make a fishing experience more enjoyable for a woman. Also, if you are looking to get your female companion interested in fishing, you are in the right spot.

                                    Things To Bring On The Trip

You will first and foremost need to purchase a fishing license. This can easily be done online through Texas Parks & Wildlife. Temporary fishing licenses are available and cheaper.

A main concern most women have is dealing with the nasty baits. If you do not like to get your hands dirty, I recommend bringing along a towel to wipe your hands on, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, nail clippers with the nail cleaning attachment to get any dirt or grime from under your nails, and a bottle of water to wash your hands with. Nail clippers can also be used to cut your fishing line after tying a hook or if you get hung up on a tree etc.

If you have an issue with touching live bait, there is a simple solution - buy artificial baits, corn or bread. Live bait and artificial baits are both very effective in fishing. The other option, have someone bait your hook. Over time, you will learn what colors and types of baits work best for the fish you are catching and water clarity. Such as dirty or clear water. If you are unsure of what baits to buy, ask a salesman.

If you choose to use live bait, worms, meal worms, and crickets are some top choices.

You will also need to buy a rod & reel unless you are borrowing one. To start, I would purchase an ultra light rod & reel combo with 4lb test line. You can buy a reel that is already spooled with line or get the sporting goods store to do it for you. Also fellas, women like to be in control of situations, so it might be wise to take her to a sporting goods store and let her pick out her own gear with your assistance. It can also be rewarding for her to pick out her own baits to catch fish on. A tackle bag isn't necessary, but over time if you learn to enjoy and appreciate the sport, you will need to purchase one. Many anglers can contest to owning a plethora of baits, weights, hooks, floats, and other items we claim to need. There are numerous ideals in how to tie a line and hook with or without floats. I would suggest researching a 'drop shot technique.'

Weather permitting, do not forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat or something to put your hair up with, such as hair ties and pins especially out on a boat. Wear clothing that you do not mind getting dirty or wet.


Most people lose interest in fishing if they are not catching fish. I would recommend that beginners  target sunfish/bluegills. These species are in abundance and tend to hang out in schools. They can be caught almost anywhere and live close to the banks. Another reason, they are not as slimy as catfish or hard to handle like bass for beginners.

You will need to be aware of poison ivy and snakes. Stay in a place that is safe.

Unhooking a fish, once understood, is a simple procedure. If you do not want to actually touch the fish, you can use a towel to hold them - this is for sunfish/bluegills. Using towels on certain species like bass takes the slimy protecting cover off the fish and can lead to an infection on the fish's surface. Hooks come out the same way they went in. You can take them out with your fingers, with a pair of pliers or a dehooking tool found at sporting good stores. If you are fishing with someone, I would recommend letting them teach you or watch a YouTube video. Hooking yourself can be painful and can require a visit to the doctor if deep enough.

Depending on the body of water, you may be able to take your catches home and reap the benefits of your work. Or release the fish to live again and to be caught again.

                                          The Next Step

Fishing is a great tool for couples who want to enjoy the outdoors together. Most men would love to see their other half take interest in something they enjoy. Even if you plan on fishing alone, this can be a great stress reliever and an excellent hobby.

This article can also be applied to getting children involved in fishing.

Just remember, patience is key with any hobby/sport. And be sure to bring a camera along to show off your catches!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lepomis Macrochirus, The Common Bluegill

This post is a guest article by Harold Krause, who writes as the Urban Fisher on the Texas Fishing Forum. The post was originally published on the Warm Fly - Warmwater Fishing Blog. Thanks to Harold for giving us permission to reprint it here.

                Lepomis Macrochirus, The Common Bluegill

The common bluegill. Known scientifically as Lepomis Macrochirus. I am sure there have been many studies on this small fish. It ranges in waters through out the United States. It has value as an important part of the ecological system. Not on the top of the food chain, but also not on the bottom. Many of anglers and pond owners know that a good population of bluegills in a body of water can help gauge the health of that body of water. They help eat some of the small critters while providing food for the bigger ones. We are all pretty familiar with these fish. I am not going to go into a life cycle or a scientific review of this fish. Nor am I going to give instructions on how to pursue and catch a bluegill. Nope…I just want to write about bluegills and what kind of impact they have to us fishermen (or woman).

The bluegill and its relatives are one of the most identifiable fish in our country. Even the youngest and non fisher types know what a bluegill looks like. Sure it has many different names depending on where you live, but for this article’s sake it will be referred to as the bluegill. They are popular, but not to the extent of other fish. Many even consider them trash type fish. It is just natural when pursuing an animal as prey, that we are usually drawn to the biggest of its type. Large mouth bass are the top predator in many small ponds and streams. As such, they are highly sought after fish. Their size and aggression make them great sport. The bluegill however, never gets the notoriety the bass gets. I have never seen a B.A.S.S. (Bluegill Anglers Sportsmen’s Society) tournament on TV. Heck it is hard enough to find books or articles dealing with these fish. So why would one fish for and admire such a small fish? There are many reasons but I want to tell you from my own point of view.

The bluegill is probably the first fish someone catches on rod and reel. It usually starts with an older relative taking a youngster to a local stream or pond with rod in one hand and live worms in the other. They are great starter fish because they are plentiful and pretty easy to catch. This is also the first time many young fishermen touch their first live fish. You know when they look at it with awe and say “I want to let him go”. Then they carefully grab it with their fingers trying not to get them all slimy. The fish of course wiggles (as if on queue) and he is quickly dropped to the ground. This chain of events is the first stepping stone for a hobby that may become a life long passion or just an experience that is part of youth. If you are reading this, then you probably fall into the passion category.

So why as an adult do I look at the bluegill as a fish to pursue? I have many reasons, but I will explain the most important to me. The bluegill was one of my first fish. I remember as a small boy going to the creek by my house and fishing for them with bobber and worms. I was always impressed with their ability to tug on my line as they fought for freedom. Their various colors and appearance would captivate a small child like me. As I got older my fishing attention was drawn away to bigger and more sought after fish. I was able to catch some impressive bass and salt water fish that turned me into a true angler. Now after many years it seems like I am right back were it all started.

Some things in life elicit an old memory long forgotten. A visit to an old restaurant with a smell that throws you back to your childhood. A certain toy or book you discovered from your past that reminds you of a certain Christmas or other event. Bluegills do that for me. I find myself looking in awe at these little fish just as I did some thirty years ago. They offer me a comfortable feeling like a child in his mother’s arms. They make me feel like a kid all over again.

On a practical side they also fill a fishing need. No longer do I have the ability to go to lakes or bays and consume entire weekends fishing. I still fish very regularly without sacrificing time with my family. The bluegill is the perfect quarry to fill the fishing void I find myself in. Fly fishing is a whole new aspect of the sport for me. The bluegill is so plentiful I can go to any small body of water near me and practice casting while catching a few fish. The best part is that a fly rod is the perfect weapon for catching them. It is like I am starting out in the sport all over again. These little bluegills have sent me on a new learning experience that has once again changed my life forever. So the next time you are able to catch one of these little treasures, think about how many people are affected by this simple little fish. (Oh and by the way, they also make great table fare).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Those Other Worms

In Texas red wigglers are the most popular worms for Sunfish bait, followed by nightcrawlers. But what about those other worms you hear about that are very popular in Europe and the northern United States?
Meal Worms

Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle. The beetle is a mean looking rascal.

The larvae are readily available in bait shops, pet shops and on the Internet. They can also be grown at home.

When used as bait the larvae can be fished alone or used to tip lures to provide scent attraction.

The meal worms will remain in the larvae form for a long time if kept refrigerated. They are usually kept in containers of corn meal, oatmeal or bran in the refrigerator between uses.

                                                                   Super Meal Worms

Ordinary meal worms are about 3/4 inch in length. By adding chemicals to the food the grower can keep the larvae in a juvenile state. The worms can be made to have a length of 1 inch or so.


Zophobas morio is a species of darkling beetle, whose larvae are known by the common name superworm. These insect larvae resemble very large mealworms, about 1½ to 2¼ inches long. Once they reach adult size, the larvae pupate, and later emerge as large, black beetles. The larvae will not pupate if kept in a container with many other larvae, where they receive constant bodily contact. Keeping superworms this way is commonly used to hinder pupation.

Superworms are used as bait in the same way as mealworms. They are readily available from the same sources.

                                                                       Maggots (Spikes)

The name maggot is used for the larvae of flies, such as houseflies, cheese flies, and blowflies. In Europe they are called spikes. Spikes are frequently dyed bright colors such as pink.

Fishermen use maggots usually provided by commercial suppliers to catch Sunfish. Maggots are the most popular bait for anglers in Europe where they throw handfuls into the water they are targeting, attracting the fish to the area. The angler will then use the largest or most attractive maggots on the hook, hoping to be irresistible to the fish.
In North America, maggots have been used for years mainly as ice fishing bait but recently anglers have started using them year-round.

Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths. Waxworms are medium-white caterpillars with black-tipped feet and small, black or brown heads.

Anglers and fishing bait shops often refer to the larvae as "waxies". Refrigerated wax worms are also popularly sold as fish bait, especially for Sunfish. The larvae are readily available in bait shops, pet shops and on the Internet. They can also be grown at home.


Eristalis tenax is a European hoverfly, also known as the drone fly (or "dronefly"). It has been introduced into North America and is widely established. The larva of E. tenax is a rat-tailed maggot. It lives in drainage ditches, pools around manure piles, sewage, and similar places containing water badly polluted with organic matter.

This is very popular winter bait that is not that easy to find. When available in the spring this bait is one of the best for early panfish. Like the other worms the bait is kept refrigerated to keep it from turning into the fly.

                                                                 Butter Worms

Butter Worms (Chilecomadia moorei) have been long used for fishing in their native country of Chile and are becoming a choice bait for Steelhead and panfishing in the United States. Butter Worms are well known in Europe where they are used extensively as both live pet food and fishing bait.
Butter Worms have fat smooth bodies like waxworms but are much larger.

Store your Butter Worms in the refrigerator at temperatures of 42 to 45 degrees F. They keep for extended periods of time. Make sure the bedding material remains dry, as moisture will kill the Butterworms.

                                                                       Catalpa Worms

The larval stage of C. catalpae is known as the Catalpa or Catawba Worm. When first hatching, the larvae are a very pale color, but become darker .The yellow caterpillars will usually have a dark, black stripe down their back along with black dots along their sides. There is also a "pale" phase where the black striping is not as prevalent or missing altogether and a shade of white has replaced it. They grow to a length of about 2 inches and feed on the leaves of the Southern Catalpa, also known as Catawba or Indian Bean trees.

They are highly desired by fishermen as bait. The worms are a little large for Sunfish, but are considered irresistible to catfish.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raising the "Bait of Champions" - Red Wriglers

Most of us old coots remember a TV program called WKRP in Cincinnati featuring the impressive chest expansion of Loni Anderson and a rag-tag bunch of comedians. But the program also ran a spoof on commercials with a jingle, which went "Red Wigglers - the Cadillac of worms". They played that jingle at least once in every show. More recently, Chuck and his friends on the TFF panfish forum have been referring to the worm as the "bait of champions" because of the use of the worm by the San Antonio group of record holders. Whatever you call them the worm, particularly the Eisenia fetida or Red Wiggler, is the bait of choice for many species of Sunfish.

Raising the Red Wiggler is not particularly difficult, but it does require attention to detail and fairly constant care.

First you need a place to raise your worms. I have a full basement, which provides a constant temperature environment in a dark place away from fire ants and other predators. My father kept a worm bed for many years in an old garden shed in his backyard. Any place out of the sun and raised to keep out ants is probably OK. The worms will die if the temperature gets below about 40 degrees.

Next, select your container. A wooden container such as half a whisky barrel is ideal. A #2 galvanized washtub was my father's container of choice. Most nowadays use a plastic container. Walmart sells a gray plastic storage container with lid for $4.95 that is ideal for a worm habitat. That is what I use. The container must have a cover. Indoors a burlap bag is perfect to cover the bed and retain moisture. Outdoors, use a solid lid. With a solid lid the bin must be ventilated to allow the worms to breathe.

Fill the container with about 4 inches of sandy soil. Then add about 6 inches of bedding. Bedding can be shredded paper, shredded leaves. peat moss or a commercial bedding mixture available on the Internet. Wet the bedding until it is moist, not wet, and let it stand for a few days before adding worms. Adjust the moisture until the bedding is as wet as a wrung out sponge. Then soak your burlap bag until it is saturated. Wring it out thoroughly and place it over the bedding.

Breeder worms are available from many growers on the Internet. A good quantity to start is 300-1000 worms. Be warned that most growers seem to cheat. A package advertised to contain 1000 worms may have 300 if you are lucky. My first order had maybe 50 worms. When I contacted the grower he sent me another batch which had a few more. Be sure to order the genuine Eisenia fetida (or Foetida) also known as redworm, tiger worm and red wiggler. Unpack the worms as soon as they arrive and place them under the burlap on top of the bedding. They will burrow into the bedding at once.

Feed your worms with food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, pulverized eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds. Sprinkle a cup of corn meal on top of the bedding. Place any food under the burlap. Avoid excessive food to keep from having smells or killing your worms.
It is necessary to keep the moisture content correct and to add bedding as the worms use it up.
For more information read the following web pages.