One of the first steps in getting ready for a fishing trip is to obtain your fish bait. In the days before the corner store or bait shop where you could purchase your fish bait it was necessary for the diehard fisherman to start out the day before and catch or gather the bait that he needed for his fishing trip. The fish bait that was free for the gathering in those days ranged from crickets and worms to graveyard grasshoppers and wasp larva. I will write later about some of the more exotic baits that we used, but in this story, I will be concentrating on the most popular and the easiest to catch – the CRICKET.
The cricket that we used for bait was not the grey cricket that you buy in bait shops today but was the common black cricket that you find in your own back yard. These crickets could be found under rocks, pieces of wood, or just about anything that had been laying on the ground for a while. In the photograph above, my grandfather “Tut” and I are searching for crickets under a rock. Catching crickets was done with the bare hands and was really an art. When you lifted a rock or piece of wood you had to be quick so the cricket would not get away but you had to be careful of two things: First, that the creature you were after was actually a cricket and not a spider or worse, a scorpion and second, you had to be careful that you did not kill the cricket while you were trying to catch it with your hand. You could look under just about any object on the ground that a cricket could get under and find one or several. But, the most productive place that I found was underneath a dried cow patty. The only requirement for finding crickets under this type object was that the cow patty was several days old and sufficiently dried out.