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Wasp grub

Wasp grub has long been associated as a summer bait for catching chub and trout are fans too. The great Jim Bazley, twice winner of the All England championships in 1909 and in 1926, described wasp grub as being ‘like plum duff amongst a lot of schoolboys’. It is not a bait that you will find in your local tackle shop as to acquire the grubs and cake you need to unearth a wasps’ nest.

Wasp grub bait Wasp grub bait

Tracking down a wasps’ nest

Most of the skills needed to quickly find nests are slowly being lost and we're grateful for Gloucester legend Max Winters for his help with this article.

The nests tend to be found near hedgerows and the entrance hole will always be facing the morning sun on the eastern side of the hedge. Look out for wasps flying around 20 feet up in the air with dirt between their legs. The nest will be nearby as these wasps are depositing the soil away from the nest. Once the entrance has been found you need to apply the appropriate wasp nest powder from a reputable supplier around dusk time. The nest should be dug up the next morning. We suggest you get advice around the safety aspects of acquiring wasps’ nests.

Wasp nests - gathering grubs for bait

How to prepare the bait

The grubs (immature wasps) are used as hookbait and the cake is typically used in the groundbait mix. The cake is sweet and chub cannot resist it. Max would remove the best grubs for the hook with a bonus being that from August onwards you would find immature queens that were twice the size of normal grubs. As summer moves towards autumn, there are fewer unhatched grubs left in the nest. Max’s method of preparing the cake groundbait was take a three-gallon maggot container, put the cake with remaining grubs into the container and add a kettle full of boiling water to kill the grubs. Then add groundbait; back in the day this was typically brown crumb. Mix it until the right consistency is reached. You need to be able to make a ball that can be thrown without breaking up in mid-air and that would also sink before breaking up. Usually on larger rivers you would be fishing at distance to the chub holding areas such as overhanging trees.

How to fish with the bait

Wasp grub fishing is the other end of the scale when compared to the finesse involved in squatts and pinkie or bloodworm and joker fishing. It’s a win or bust method for the match-man. Here’s Max’s top tips:

  • Be gentle on the cast of the grubs will fly off the hook
  • Use a large float, taking at least 3 or 4 swan shot
  • Use a large hook to match the size of the grub, maybe a size 8 or even a size 6
  • The cake can also be used on the hook; Max would use a piece not much smaller than a 50p piece

How to store between fishing sessions

The cake can be bagged and placed in the freezer and frozen for use later. Be sure to add a label for if inadvertently added to some recipe of other by another member of the household, some spirited debate might well ensue.

History of wasp grub fishing

There is a long history of use of wasp grub for chub which can be traced back as far as the writings of Dame Juliana Berners who described it as ‘the honeycomb’. There is a history of successful baits such as hemp and bloodworm and joker being subject to bans. Wasp grub has suffered the same fate.  

It was banned on the River Trent and Burton Joyce after John Howard won numerous matches using the method. On the Severn match circuit, Max along with Clive Smith and Tony Davies, to name but three, achieved notable success on the ‘grub’. Max feels it’s a shame that modern anglers don’t give it a go more often these days for it’s a way in which the average match angler can triumph over the very best.

Last date edited: 18 January 2018