This is article for the fresh-water trout fishermen of the family. A great hobby for the kids – there’s nothing like having your own stock of fresh grasshoppers for bait, when the weather cools down and they are not available. Grasshoppers are impossible to find in cold or rainy weather. They are most active in hot temperatures above about 18 degrees Celsius.
It’s difficult to catch them with your hands as they are just too fast and you don’t want to damage them! A fine mesh net (the wider opening, the better at least 200mm) is suitable.
Stalk your hopper, always with your shadow BEHIND you so as not to spook them. Pounce on the hopper as soon as it lands. Walk slowly, kicking the grass to dislodge them out of their hiding places but, concentrate only on ONE hopper at a time. If you lose him, search for another, as there are plenty in the grass. Council reserves and paddocks are the best hunting grounds as they are open spaces and the grass isn’t cut very often. When your prey has been caught, keep the net flat to the ground to prevent escape. Close the net around the hopper with two fingers, being careful not to injure it. Pick the hopper out of the net and transfer to your holding container (e.g. a recycled plastic milk bottle with a handle – with holes for ventilation (punch holes with a metal skewer or large nail).
HOUSING YOUR GRASSHOPPERS:
Use a lightweight plastic container with a lid grated for ventilation with an easy access door.
– Line the bottom with a double sheet of newspaper, folded to fit.
– Place fresh grass, dandelion leaves (spray free) on the newspaper at the bottom.
40-50 hoppers are the maximum for an average 300mm long x 150mm high x 150mm wide container.
An oblong shaped plastic fish tank is suitable as it is light weight, easier to clean and is safe for the kids.
Grasshoppers are voracious eaters, so they require daily feeds.
Never feed them lettuce! It kills them! Fresh green grass and dandelion leaves are adequate.
Roughly, a half a handful daily.
They have no need for water, provided the greens are fresh, where they draw all the moisture they need. On this diet, the hoppers will grow well and keep for months!
Remove hoppers every fortnight for cleaning their house. Discard any old feed and the newspaper and blast out any remaining debris with a hose (no chemicals) and a clean sponge and nylon scourer to finish off.
You will get the odd mortality. Remove any bodies and don’t be alarmed to see any shed ‘skins’ as they renew their ‘skin’ as they grow. (their ‘exoskeleton’)
TROUT FISHING WITH YOUR HOPPERS:
When you go fishing, transfer about 30 hoppers into a small, recycled plastic container ventilated with punched holes. (E.g. a 300ml cream or juice container) Another method of taking hoppers on trips is to ask any ladies of your household to save any discarded nylon stockings or pantyhose for you. Cut off a 30cm. section from knee to toe. Place hoppers into the toe section with a bit of feed and clip or peg the stocking to your belt or place it inside your fishing bag with its clip. They are easier to handle in the stocking as they won’t jump out and escape. In a stream, put a hopper on a small hook (no sinker) under a natural cork float and always cast upstream against the current using a rod & spinning reel with a lightweight line. From my experience; don’t use any of the commercially manufactured coloured plastic floats as they appear to scare off the fish.
Grasshoppers are an interesting, unusual, cheap pet for your kids as they can watch them occasionally lay eggs on the newspaper at the bottom. These look like brown sludge (about half the size of a 5 cent piece) which dries out over the eggs. It will teach your kids an important lesson: If you don’t look after your pets, in correctly feeding them and keeping their house clean, they will get sick and die!
Nothing like a bit of competition, involving you and the kids: like who can catch the most hoppers!!