The mealworm is a good – if slightly offbeat – roach, bream and chub bait. In fact it’s not a worm at all, but the grub of the mealworm beetle; it is slightly larger than a gozzer.
The adult beetle is of no use to anyone, except fishermen. It damages grain and cereal products in granaries and mills. But the mealworm itself makes a good source of food for the numerous pet birds that eat insects. It is quite widely available in pet shops, but be warned—it doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately, though mealworms are fairly expensive, they can be kept for a long time.
Store them in a well-ventilated container with clean bran or oatmeal inside for them to feed on. Keep them at an even temperature.
Some anglers keep mealworms long enough for them to turn into pupae, then into adult beetles which then breed. This way an everlasting bait supply is always at hand, especially since it is possible to fish with the pupae and adult beetles as well as the grubs.
Take them along to the bank in a maggot box pierced with small holes to provide air.
Mealworms are fairly hard skinned, but they have a tendency to break off at the tail end during casting. This means that they should always be hooked through a middle segment, where they are much tougher.
Try fishing them with hooks from size 18 to size 12. Hook them straight through the middle leaving the hookpoint exposed. Two or three can be used on one hook.
The grub is not strong enough to withstand constant casting, so check it closely after every cast, and replace it regularly.
There are a number of ways of using mealworms – trotting, dapping and legering are all possibilities. They make a very good change bait – big roach soon wise up to maggots, but normally take mealworms without suspicion. Mealworms are particularly useful for trotting and on those rare, extremely hot summer days when maggots seem to stretch in the heat and die.
Dapping is a good method, particularly for catching chub. Conceal yourself in bushes and allow the mealworm to dap on the surface.
When fishing on or just below the surface gets no results, allow the bait to sink and lie on the bottom for a short time before retrieving it gently.
Mealworms are a good bait for legering for short periods because of their light colour. It makes them fairly obvious, even in quite murky waters.
Fish the pupae much as you would fish casters – they are a slightly bigger and more obvious bait.
Try fishing the adult beetles on size 14-10 hooks. Either thread your hook through the beetle’s body or stick the insect to your hook using very strong glue.