Just like a professional golfer has a collection of golf clubs for different situations, different people like to use a variety of bait when fishing. Depending on the type of fish you want to catch, your bait might include worms, leeches, and minnows…but have you tried mealworm?
Ironically, mealworms aren’t actually worms. Mealworms are golden-yellow beetle larvae that form from the mealworm beetle, which is a species of darkling beetle. Mealworms have a hard exoskeleton surrounding and protecting their bodies and are an overall resilient and hardy insect. Mealworms range in size and generally can be expected to be between 3/4 of an inch to one inch in length, although some “giant mealworms” range from between 1.25 to 1.5 inches.
Mealworms are considered a live bait and are more buoyant than earthworms and nightcrawlers, which make them easier to keep in feeding lanes. In addition, a mealworm’s golden-yellow exoskeleton allows it to be more visible than traditional bait when faced with dark murky waters that often make it difficult to see any underwater action.
Although mealworms are not the cheapest type of bait available, usually costing around $15.00 per 1,000 worm can, they can be stored for extended periods of time and have become a popular bait option for catching a variety of fish. In fact, some anglers keep mealworms long enough for them to turn into pupae, which then turn into adult beetles, which ultimately begin to breed. This process is an economical way to guarantee an everlasting bait supply is always at hand.
When to Use Mealworms as Bait
Many professional fisherman have sworn to using mealworms as an almost surefire bait to catch even the largest of fish, no matter the lake, pond, river, or stream. More recently, mealworms have become a popular choice for ice fishing. Smaller fish in particular love to snack on mealworms as a tasty treat and most fish find them so scrumptious that you might end up hooking a larger fish even if it’s just one tiny little mealworm at the end of your line!
From bluegill to trout, perch, bass, crappie and even catfish, most fish will eat mealworms because of their small size and attractive golden yellow exterior. In particular, trout are the most common fish attracted to mealworms, as they are sometimes unpredictable and generally scare easily. Mealworms wiggle less than other types of bait and present a smaller less intimidating meal, making them much more likely to grab the attention of an interested trout.
The first thing that is needed to mount a mealworm is a seven to seven-and-a-half-foot ultralight rod with a matching reel that is spooled with either two or four-pound test fishing line. The use of an extended fishing rod results in more feedback to your hands while your mealworm(s) glide across the water’s current, and the lighter fishing line becomes almost translucent to the trout or other fish you plan to catch.
You want to rig a number 8 or number 10 single fishing hook, or a set of double fishing hooks such as gang hooks that are of equal size, onto a 12 to 18 inch leader that is attached to the end of your fishing line using a small swivel. A mealworm is now “threaded” on to the hook (or one ‘mealie’ on each hook in the case of gang hooks) by starting just below the mealworms head and coming out 1/4 of the way before the end of the mealworms’ body. Much like you do when you thread a plastic grub onto a jig head, but in this case, the live mealworm is the “body.” For jig color, green is often regarded as the most attractive when combined with mealworms.
Weight is now added to your line above the barrel swivel to keep your mealworm (s) as close to the bottom as possible as the drift is taking place. Since trout generally like to feed towards the bottom of a water source, your bait should always be as close to the water’s bed as possible. You should feel your weights “ticking” along the bottom of the water source as your mealworm drifts. When a hungry fish takes the bait, you will know it because a bite feels like a steady tug.
Where to Find Mealworms
Mealworms are found in a variety of different environments but are most commonly located under stones, tree stumps, and in or around grain storage bins. They feed on animal and plant leftovers, however, the good news is that you don’t have to go out and find your own mealworms. Many sporting goods stores and specialty fishing stores sell mealworms for all sorts of different purposes. Generally, mealworms from sporting goods stores and specialty fishing stores tend to be smaller and skinnier than those purchased from pet stores, as mealworms can also be used to feed a variety of reptiles, birds, and other wildlife.
Lastly, a number of online retail businesses focused solely on shipping mealworms to customers have appeared over the years. These online businesses have mealworms in all different shapes and sizes and can custom tailor an order for a customer’s exact needs.
Mealworms are a resilient and robust insect that can generally be stored for between two to three months. To store mealworms for an extended period of time, they should be placed in a refrigerator or other cool environment using small deli-cups or smooth-sided plastic containers. Mealworms stored for an extended period of time should be kept at between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and a tiny bit of bedding, like oats, grains, or bran should be added to the container.
Mealworms that are only being stored for a short amount of time should be placed in the same plastic containers mentioned above but kept at room temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing mealworms in plastic containers and at room temperature ensures that the worms are given a natural environment and that they can live and grow naturally.