Casting your line in a clear mountain stream sounds as peaceful as can be, right? Not so for Steve, host of the Bass In Grass YouTube channel, when he found himself surrounded by swarming Brood X cicadas. These once-in-17-year visitors make for an unusual day’s fishing, but their arrival marks a topwater feast for bass, trout, bluegill, catfish and more. Even better, discriminating anglers can use cicada bait, lures and flies to get in on the action.
Fishing in the Time of Cicadas
Brood X cicadas are the largest and most widely distributed group of periodical cicadas in the Eastern United States, and 2021 just so happens to be their year. Billions of these insects spend their lives buried deep underground before rising en masse and changing from nymphs to adults. Adult cicadas fly, mate, lay eggs and die within a few weeks, but they make one heck of a racket in the meantime.
When Steve arrives at his fishing spot he can’t get over the creepy cicada drone, which reminds one commenter of the Blair Witch Project. Or, as another commenter quips, now you know what tinnitus is like. Nonetheless, our host shows cheerful curiosity toward the swarming insects.
“I can’t let him go down like that after 17 years underground,” Steve declares as he rescues a cicada from the water and encourages it to fly off. “Somewhere down the line there will be a whole generation of those things that owe me their life.”
Cicadas are Ugly, But Irresistible to Fish
Steve’s good humor is rewarded by the end of the day with a handful of beautiful smallies. The fish still haven’t quite clued into the cicada feast unfolding above their heads, but if Steve returns in a few days he predicts “there’s gonna be a topwater gorge going down.” The perfect time to break out that cicada lure and go for a feast of your own—but you might want to bring some ear plugs.