A Fiddler’s not a Goof

Ah, the worm.

That iconic, time-honored, never-fail bait. I recently overheard a fisheries graduate student admit, “If I want to catch fish to eat, I’m going to use a bobber and a worm.” To obtain this bait, most people usually grab a shovel and turn over half an acre. But, there just may be a better way.

The practice of “fiddling” has been around a while. Outdoor writer and photographer, Theresa Sutton, wrote that anglers in need of bait have been fiddling for more than 100 years and that she learned it from her father, Hansel Hill.

“All you need is a hand saw and a pole or stick about 30-36 inches long and two inches in diameter,” shared Mr. Hill. “Look for a moist, shady spot with fallen leaves covering the ground. Drive the pole about 6-8 inches into the ground, depending on how moist the ground is.” Then, vibrations caused by by sawing across the top of the stick trigger earthworms to exit the soil.

Personally, I think I first learned of fiddling from fly-fishing blogger Nathan Kennedy, but with a rough brick instead of a saw. I promptly rushed out to try it, but was not successful. Maybe it was because of a poor choice of location. Or perhaps I did not try it long enough because I suddenly felt like this was a prank and someone was filming me.

But I’m tired of purchasing bait from the local big box store, so I am going to try it again. (When confident I don’t have an audience.) Or possibly, I’ll see if my cello-playing brother will entertain us with an “outdoor concert” next time he is in town.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.