Fishing with worms has been practiced for as long as many of us can remember. As kids, we baited our hooks with worms just as our parents and grandparents before us.
Successful worm fishing has driven an industry that provides worms in retail settings. Many fishermen make regular purchases in order to bait their hooks with worms, some even taking steps to create their own worm bins in which these animals will reproduce on their own. Whichever method you choose, be it buying or breeding, one thing that remains the same is that you have to start by getting at least your first batch of worms from somewhere.
Although there is some success in gathering worms after a rain or from various nooks and crannies, an even more interesting way of collecting worms exists. It is called worm grunting and is a relatively simple technique that yields incredible results. All it takes is a wooden stake placed into the ground and a flat, metal rod to grind atop it. Together with a little elbow grease, a vibration is created when rubbing these two components together that drives earthworms from their underground dwellings to the surface for collection.
If you’ve got your doubts, witness the worm grunting magic for yourself:
For some, worm grunting is more than a neat little trick to catch some worms for fishing. In Sopchoppy, Florida, worm grunting is both a livelihood and a lively party. Area residents local to the Apalachicola National Forest are known to practice worm grunting to capture and sell worms to support their families. There is also the Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin’ Festival, which features arts, crafts, food, drink, and, of course, a king and queen as well as worm grunting fun for all. There is even a competition for up-and-coming worm grunting kids to experience firsthand this acquired skill.
But why does it work? The theory behind worm grunting is that the vibration it creates is what drives the worms from beneath the ground surface and out into the open. The reason this vibration is effective is because it resembles that of a mole in search of an earthworm snack, which is plenty of reason for the worms to flee above ground.
By placing a wooden spike known as a staub into the ground, the vibration is directed beneath the surface. When the flat metal iron is rubbed across the top, it then creates the vibration that is strong enough to make leaf litter dance across the ground. The sound made in the process could be irrelevant to worms as it is predominantly the vibration that matters, but your ability to hear the sound will help you to drum up a rhythm and know that you’re completing the process correctly.
In other areas of the world, worm grunting is practiced by slightly different means. Pitchforks are sometimes used in place of a wooden staub and chainsaws sometimes replace the metal flat iron. What the common denominator is at the end of the day, however, is the effect it has on worms.
Although worm grunting as a way of life or even a hobby might not be for everyone, the technique is just as respectable as it is useful. If you find yourself with a need for worms and the right tools on hand, give it a try and see for yourself how it works. You just may find that future trips to the bait store will be passed up on in favor of grunting for your own wriggling bait.