Take advantage of catalpa worms as fishing bait


Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.

Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.


Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.

Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.


One of the best fishing baits you can find is available now. You don’t find it in a bait and tackle shop, but on a specific tree. This bait is not available long and has a short window (maybe three weeks) when it is available.

Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, gorge themselves on catalpa leaves. According to Joe Boggs, assistant professor and commercial horticulture educator with Ohio State University Extension and OSU department of entomology, they come in two color forms, both light and dark. He said they are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth.

The moth is and brown moth often is seen around porch or streetlights. These moths lay the eggs on the underside of the leaves and then the eggs hatch into the caterpillars. The caterpillars will gorge themselves on the catalpa leaves for about three weeks and then drop to the ground and enter the pupae stage.

Boggs well knows how good they are as a bait.

“I grew up in West Virginia, and we had a large northern catalpa tree in our farm yard. I loved it when we had hornworms because I commonly fished in the lower portion of the Elk River and I can vouch for the hornworm’s effectiveness in catching both largemouth and smallmouth bass,” he said.

I fished them years ago with a friend, who had a catalpa tree in his yard. Bluegills and bass love them. Unfortunately he moved away and I no longer had access to a catalpa tree.

A catalpa tree has big leaves that are heart shaped. You can pick the caterpillars off the leaves, but I suggest you wear gloves (maybe latex or plastic) when picking them. They secrete a greenish-yellowish juice which can be quite messy on bare hands. They have velcro-like prog legs, which means you have to pull on them a bit to get them off the leaf.

Not all catalpa trees produce worms; some do, but not every year and some will produce them every year. If they are higher on the leaves, you can shake branches to get them off or throw a rope over branches and shake them off that way.

If you use some of the worms right away, it’s suggested you cut off the head and a bit of the tail end. Then hook them, thus creating the juice to come out.

They do not stay alive for more than 2-3 days, so some anglers keep them by freezing them.

After you picked a number of worms, put them in a pan and bring them to a slow boil. Once the water comes to a boil, drain them in a strainer and put them on a paper towel for a couple of minutes to dry. Then freeze them in cornmeal in a freezer bag. Put about 20 in a bag. Mark the bag with the date. Take a bag out when you want to use them and that they should be thawed by the time you get to your fishing spot.

* * *

Two Lima area bass anglers finished among the top 12 in the boater category of the opening T-H Marine Phoenix Bass Fishing League Michigan Division Tourney held on Lake St. Clair last Saturday.

Beau Bickford of Findlay placed seventh when he caught a five-bass limit that weighed 20 pound, 9 ounces. He was among 11 bassers who weighed more than 20 pounds of fish.

Matt Elkins of Spencerville wound up 12th with a five-bass limit that weighed 19 pounds, 5 ounces.

Wilson Burton of Findlay also caught a five-bass limit. He finished 66th with a weight of 14 pounds, 3 ounces.

The next Michigan event Aug. 1 also is on Lake St. Clair.

* * *

Travel restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic have forced a change in tourney sites for two of the Toyota Tackle Warehouse FLW tour. The two have been moved to a pair of Great Lakes — Erie and Michigan.

The tourney scheduled for Aug. 11-14 has been moved from the Detroit River to Lake Erie with anglers taking off from Sandusky. For the anglers who qualify for the tours title tourney Aug. 24-29, they will fish out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, which connects to Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan to the east. The title event had been scheduled for the St. Lawrence River in Messena, New York.

Kyle Weisenburger, who fishes on this tour, said moving the tourney to Lake Erie actually could limit the amount of water anglers can fish. Anglers are not allowed to fish Canadian waters. On the Detroit River, anglers had the choice of going north and fishing Lake St. Clair and possibly Lake Huron or going south and east and fishing Lake Erie.

He noted wind could be a factor so he’s hoping for good weather.

The next tournament is July 29-Aug. 1 on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin

Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/07/web1_07.24.20.larvae1.jpgCatalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.
Catalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/07/web1_07.24.20.larvae.jpgCatalpa worms, which actually are caterpillars, make great fishing bait for bluegills and bass. They are the larvae of the catalpa sphinx moth and they come in two colors — light and dark.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/07/web1_alsmithmug-4.jpg

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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