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The Village Idiot

Brain Spasms

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(2/2018) I had a brain spasm this morning. (DW lives in dread of these rare events, but I find them absolutely fascinating! Especially because of their rarity.) I was thinking about the next Village Idiot column, Russian winter hats trimmed in purposeful fur, and green nightcrawlers when "pop" goes my brain (though it could have been a sinus shift). MAGGOTS! I can run an experiment in collecting and raising maggots as fish bait!

DW got very excited about the idea. Really, she did.

We managed to put out the several fires she ignited with that Balor evil eye thing she's got going when I trip one of her triggers. I suppose had I stood still while she focused the flaming beam of discharge from her mad-eye on me there would have been one fire to deal with, but I wouldn't have been able to help her extinguish it. We were both surprised at how quick and nimble I can be when my pants burst into flames.

Her screaming "Stand still!" excited the dogs as well, though they smartly fled to cooler parts of the house. The poor cat (arrogant creature that he is) walked through the blast zone nonchalantly and will eventually grow most of his hair back. To prevent a future eruption I'm taking a page from the politically correct playbook and will only refer to maggots by the less offensive term - fly grubs.

Anyhow, that mundane stuff isn't of interest. Back to the spasm!

The first time I took notice of fly grubs as fish baits was in a fishing catalog. I could order a bucket of fly grubs, even get them in various colors, and keep them in the fridge until I needed them. Mom had a thing about fish baits in her fridge so I never pursued the idea. (It must be a female thing 'cause years later DW had a small fit over finding nightcrawlers in her freezer. Though Middle Sister didn't have a problem eating a cured pig shoulder that spent time in a fridge drawer with night crawlers, so who can tell with women.)

I later heard of using fly grubs to catch fish from a guy I met in Florida who'd grown up in PA. He said they'd shoot groundhogs on the farm and tie the carcasses to a tree limb overhanging a pond or creek. Flies visited and layed their eggs. (Yes, I know "layed" is an archaic form of "laid". And I'm an archaic form of idiot, so there!) Eggs hatched, fly grubs fed and eventually fell into the water. Fish got used to feeding on fly grubs under the overhanging limb and the farm boys cast their baits to where they knew the fish would be waiting. (A form of farm "recycling" long established before any industrial/government agencies got involved in the natural process- which is another column, or several.)

DW has a thing about me collecting roadkill and transporting it in any of our vehicles, so I've never tried the hanging-a-corpse-in-a-tree method of feeding fish. Women.

Years ago, while keeping hundreds of African fish in the living room, I read an article on how to collect fly eggs and grow fly grubs out to useful size without stinking up the house or freaking out the females. (I'm still skeptical about not freaking out the females, but ready to give the method a try.) Of course I've long since lost the article and will happily try to recall what the method was by way of experimenting!

I know rotting meat was involved. As was a jar, a bit of water, a rubber band and a colored bandanna. The meat and water were placed in the jar, the bandanna covered the mouth of the jar and the band secured it so the flies couldn't get to the rotting meat. The jar was to be placed somewhere in the yard where its fragrance wouldn't disturb passing DWs, or non-adventurous/non-scientific types in general. The goal was to attract those fat flies that seek out rotting flesh in the assumption they evolve from fatter maggots... urr fly grubs. The bandanna kept them from laying eggs on the meat and it's darker color would allow the eggs to be easily seen.

While the egg collector was collecting eggs a second jar was supposed to be readied to feed the fly grubs when they hatched out. Here's where the real experiment comes to play. I have only the vaguest idea of what the food was. I know it wasn't rotting anything because the goal was to control the fragrance (the fly grubs would be grown in the house after all) and keep the future fish food as bacteria free as possible!

It sticks in memory that a gelatin-based food was made, but what was added to it escapes me. I'm thinking a beef bouillon cube was dissolved in water, mixed with a gelatin packet and allowed to set. The egg-encrusted bandanna would be removed from the collection jar and flipped so the eggs were over the gelatin and the tiny fly grubs would fall onto their food source as they hatched. As the grubs progress to maturity they would be placed in a fridge to slow the growth and hopefully hold them at the proper stage for using as fish bait. (Allowing the fly grubs to pupate and become flies would definitely set the one-eyed DW on full Balor mode.)

DW remains... skeptical- yeah, that word will work- she will come around once I explain how I'll use the mag- urr fly grubs. Tattoo Don, pillar of the community and I discovered a white crappie pond this past summer and we're suddenly crappie enthusiasts! Will fly grubs attract crappie? Hell if I know, but as long as DW thinks they might I'll play that card so I can experiment with magg- urr fly grub farming! (Cooking some of the crappie I froze this autumn might go some ways to getting her on board with grub farming. But good grief! I labored to catch them, suffered fin pricks while scaling them and had to wash fish guts out of my beard. The least she can do is cook them.)

Don doesn't have a problem with using grubs as bait if they catch fish. If they catch crappie he's definitely all in with my raising fly grubs, though he didn't volunteer to keep the grubs in his fridge. Some fishing buddies are like that. Then again, his DW may not be as amiable as my sweet, kind, understanding, mellow, gentle souled DW.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.