Fishing

Catch your own bait: 4 ways to forage like a true fisherman

Run out of bait? Don't panic. You can still find meaty slugs and worms if you know where to look.

Run out of bait? Don't panic. You can still find meaty slugs and worms if you know where to look.  (Tim MacWelch/Outdoor Life)

Your survival fishing kit may be no more than a coil of monofilament line and a half dozen hooks, and that’s all it really needs to be. But as you likely know, a bare hook and some line won’t be very effective, unless you find tasty critters that you can use as bait.

For successful hand-line fishing, your best bet is to select irresistible bait. Since most fish species are carnivores, it’s hard to go wrong with worms, grubs, crickets and other natural bug bait.

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Here are four places to check to rustle up your own.

1. Flip over a rock.

One of the easiest ways to find bait is to flip over stones and other solid objects. These protected habitats often have worms, slugs, grubs and many other fine bait bugs hiding underneath them.

2 Scoop some muck.

Bloodworms and other juicy creatures may be hiding just under the surface of mud and muck. Use a hooked tool or forked stick to quickly dig up these fast burrowing beasts and use them as an enticing fish bait.

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3. Rip open a log.

Grubs and beetles often make their home in rotten logs. Tear into the soft punky wood with tools or with your bare hands. Pick through the crumbled pieces to collect your prizes. Not only are these creatures a tempting treat for fish, but they make a valuable survival food for hungry humans too. Just cook your bugs until “well done” for safety.

4. Disturb the dirt.

Worms are often upset by vibrations in the ground, and these disturbances can cause the worms to crawl to the surface. Pound a rock or a pole against the ground, and watch for any worms that may start squirming their way across the surface. Similarly, some old timers have cut notches into walking sticks, and rubbed another stick up and down on the notches while holding the staff against the ground to send the vibrations into the soil. These old-fashioned tricks don’t always work, but they’re worth a try. I have seen it work first-hand (some of the time).

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Which local bait would you use, if you needed something to go with your survival fishing kit?