Garden Harvest

This time of year, most gardens are producing plenty of vegetables and flowers. Though gardens require work to maintain, the tasty results are well worth the trouble. Whether the garden is a small urban raised bed or a larger rural roto-tilled plot, insects will find and feast on the garden too.  Some of the insects are pests that can be great bait. Collecting these in a coffee can with a hole-punched lid not only helps the plants but can be a great bonus source of fishing fun, especially for catching sunfish, bass, and catfish.

Here are a few garden pests/baits:

●Grasshoppers and crickets. These generalists will eat anything but okra, squash, and tomatoes can be a good source for this classic bait.

●Tomato hornworms.  When leaves start disappearing off tomatoes I look for these fat green giant caterpillars. Fish love ‘em!

●Caterpillars.  There is a wide variety of smaller, but just as effective bait that can be found on cabbage, corn, broccoli, etc.

●Grubs. When harvesting underground produce such as potatoes, carrots, or radishes, keep your eye open for grubs or worms.

Please note: not all garden insects make good bait; stick to the above list.  Beetles such as blister beetles which like cucumbers or those squash bugs on the zucchini plants should not be handled. Also, not all insects are pests. Leave the beneficial spiders and ladybugs there to do their job. Finally, do not transport and release bait elsewhere. After all, your local fish will appreciate all of your organically grown bait!

Anyone else harvest bait along with veggies?

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.