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Goldenrod Grubs for Winter / Summer Panfish

11/30/16 @ 3:27 PM
Artic Armor
User since 2/17/10

Photos follow to help focus this discussion:

This fall I've gone back to my younger years and picked a large quantity of Goldenrod galls / grubs. Searching the internet there few good articles on their collection, opening, storing, and use. Fallow farm fields and road and railroad ditch lines yielded most of my harvest.  I found that picking the galls before mid-October was a challenge as the stems are green and woody and the galls are often hidden by plant leaves. Ideal picking was the last two weeks of October when stems are dry and much of the plants leaves have fallen. By November 1st birds had pecked out many of the biggest galls. Speaking of size, I found that it does NOT pay to pick galls the size of a dime or smaller as grubs very seldom exist in them. "Smaller then a dime - Leave them behind" Pick only larger ROUND and DARK BROWN galls. Elliptical shaped / non-round or any gall other then dark brown color are almost always empty, so don't waste the effort on them.

Storing galls in 5 gallon buckets was a mistake as they mildewed and got somewhat moldy. Best storage was in paper grocery sacks and burlap bags and they could dry out better. 

Opening Galls: Various suggestions are out there about how best to open the galls to get the large BB sized grubs. I found resting ea. gall on a 2X4 plank and striking a hammer on a old kitchen knife was as fast and effective as any. See photo. Any way you open them, you are going to cut or squish several.

 I estimate the success rate of getting a usable grub from a gall is about 1 in 4, taking into account those that you damage, empty galls or small sized grubs.

Time Saver: It is easy and quickest to cut open the galls and IF the grub is NOT immediately coming out, place opened galls in a cardboard tray or similar and place at room temperature for a few days and the grubs will crawl themselves out of the opened gall for easy harvest (see photo).

Storing grubs: You may know as I recalled, and I have now again experimented with, putting the grubs in ground cornmeal, then put them in a bait container in fridge or freezer. Bottom line is you can repeatedly freeze and thaw goldenrod grubs from fridge to freezer and back again without harming them. Its reported that the grubs have glycol-like body fluids that allow them to survive these changing conditions. I try and fish FROZEN grubs as they thread and hold better on a jig hook.  Its NOT without time and effort. A paper grocery bag of galls = 1 and 1/2 times a 5 gallon pail) and takes 2-3 hours to pick in the field and another 5 hours to open them. All the while anticipation builds for the fishing fun to come with self harvested bait.

Welcome your goldenrod grub experiences.


11/2/20 @ 6:47 AM
MEMBER since 11/5/17

Another grub that worked very well for gills, better than waxies,and stayed on the hook were corn borers. You will find them in the stalk section that is close to the ground and in the root system.    If you can find a grower of popcorn you’ve got it made!   You can get these all fall and winter because the birds can’t get to them.    These were my favorite bait for gills but difficult to find a good popcorn field although sweet corn will produce but not as well.     None will be found in field corn.  CARPIO 

11/1/20 @ 11:14 PM
MEMBER since 6/22/01
mcgeer have fun with the grubs this winter! If you've ever smashed a waxworm and put it on a hook that's what they do after being put on a hook, only much smaller than a waxworm. What's nice about this is that there is a lot of scent released into the water right away.  But they don't typically last longer than one fish.  But I don't care because they're free bait.  It's only one of several things I use for bluegills, I still have waxies, spikes, and plastics with me every time, but for the most finicky bluegills these little golden rod grubs seem to work the best.

11/1/20 @ 4:16 PM
User since 11/11/14

To harvest oak grubs you have to get them before they leave the acorn. there will be a small hole in the shell if it is out. Place acorns in a bucket of sand and they will over time go into the sand. Sift them out of the sand to collect.

11/1/20 @ 1:57 PM
User since 1/19/07

Seems like a lot of effort, but definitely fun.

I've tried acorn grubs. Got about 1/4 a bucket of acorns, ended up getting 2 grubs and 4 acorn caterpillars only. Figured I'd just use them for bait for panfish and they worked real well, but honestly not worth the effort unless you have an acorn tree in your yard.

11/1/20 @ 9:05 AM
User since 12/4/18

I’ve never heard of this, and I remember seeing some of these by our local brush site, so I figured I’d give it a try. I did a little research and went out and harvested some yesterday. There were definitely some that had been picked over by birds, but I think I picked about 50 galls just to see. They were easy enough to twist from the stem.  

In the spring, the flies lay eggs, and then burrow into the center of the stem, and the plant forms the gall over them. Their is a small tunnel that is formed behind them, and they pack the outside with their sawdust-like powder. This blocks the opening and protects them inside throughout the winter. If you find ANY galls with open holes (either from birds or anything else) leave them. There will not be any grubs in there. Conservation-wise if you want to keep the same patch of galls, make sure to leave about 10% there, so the grubs will mature into flies and repeat the process for next year.

Spoiler: it does take some time, but it was AWESOME to sit there and get your own bait!!

The first two I opened didn’t have anything that looked like the photos above. There were a few VERY tiny little worms, which seemed to be par for the course in the rest of them also. I don’t know if these were immature goldenrod grubs, predator worms, or what, but I ignored them. 

I kept opening, and in the end I opened about 30 galls and got roughly 25 grubs. I did smush a few, but I found a pretty foolproof method once you get the hang of it.

Using a sharp serrated knife, leatherman or Swiss Army knife, conservatively cut the sides off the gall so you have 4 flat planes (like you’d cut a mango, to avoid the center part.) The grubs are usually in the dead center. (Sometimes they are near the sides... RIP.) if the gall is dry enough, you can gently twist and it will pop open in the center to reveal the grub, which will be surrounded by some sawdust like packing. If they’re anything like squash vine borers that live in my garden, that’s their poop. I have a video of my process, if you’d like to see just message me. I can’t seem to get anything to upload. 

I didn’t have any cornmeal, but I put them in some of the gall shavings and popped them in the freezer in an empty spice container. The rest of the unopened galls I put in the garage in a paper bag. You can bet I’m going back today to pick more. Can’t wait to try these on the ice!!!

10/31/20 @ 9:07 PM
beachcomber II
User since 12/7/13

found some this morning while bowhunting and birds got them already

10/30/20 @ 10:26 AM
MEMBER since 11/5/17

I usually don’t have much luck finding Susan grubs in field.  Much better to find them in ditches where the soil is richer and wetter.     The very thin and the very thick stalks usually don’t produce much.  It’s best to pick them in October after a good freeze.    After that the birds will get most of them.  Look for stalks that have toppled over and have what appears to be sawdust packed in the end of the stalk.   Store the stalks where it is cold otherwise you will have bugs crawling around, open the stalks before you go fishing.   It is not uncommon to find 5-10 grubs in a stalk.  They stay on the hook much better than waxies.     Let me know how you do.    CARPIO 

10/30/20 @ 8:58 AM
MEMBER since 6/22/01

Junkie4ice, yes the goldenrod grubs freeze well and come back to life when thawed.  I've read that they're much easier to put on the hook if kept frozen, but they thaw out real quickly when left in the pocket so I try and leave them on the ice when I'm using them. To me they're worth the effort because they work so well.  I've seen some guys using the grubs that come out of the black eye susans and they're more durable when on the hook and they're much bigger.  Sometimes a bigger bait works better but most of the time the way I fish gills the smaller the better, even for the bigger gills and especially for the bigger gills.  They are so picky that they won't even touch a larger bait.  Probably not true in all waters, but in the heavily pressured waters I fish in the winter it seems to be true, smaller is better.

10/30/20 @ 8:25 AM
MEMBER since 6/22/01

Carpio I have a field near me that has both goldenrods and black eyed susans.  What do you look for when finding the grubs in those? 

10/30/20 @ 8:06 AM
MEMBER since 11/5/17

Pick Black Eye Susan’s, much larger and easier to get to.   They work just as well as galls. CARPIO 

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