Largemouth and smallmouth bass. Channel cats and bullhead brethren. Trout. Carp.

Yep, cicadas are a hot summertime bait, either live or recently deceased, or, especially for bass, with a surface cleaving artificial impostor.

This early summer, most of June actually, saw the return of the 17-year cycle cicada, this year’s crop termed “Brood X” (the X is for the Roman numeral 10) that was most
prevalent throughout the northern and central tier counties. The southern section of the Garden State had only pockets of this red-eyed noisemaker, and the emergence is basically finished and will not occur again until 2038.

While we enjoyed decent brown trout and smallmouth fishing on several north Jersey rivers during the height of the Brood X hatch/molt/mating racket (the buzzing was so
intense in its volume that we could barely hear ourselves think) using live bugs, it’s the annual cicada activity that gets us cranked for largemouths, carp and channel cats in
numerous south Jersey swims.

The buzzing of the annual species kicks off in early-to-mid July during the first intense heat wave (hence its nickname “dog day bug”) and coincides with the black-eyed Susans popping and the arrival of the jumbo wasps known as cicada killers, all sure reminders that summer is starting its down side. The chatter usually kicks off late morning or early afternoon and continues through dusk and into the darkness. Unfortunately, it supplants the more pleasant tunes of robins calling an end to the day, but seasons move on.

Unlike the 17-year brood, the annual cicada has black eyes, a dark body and green veins through its wings as opposed to the orange/red of the former. While normally sounding off from the higher limbs, they’ll also hang on low lying branches and bushes like forsythia.

We find enough for bait searching field edges and low cut grassy fields where they’ll sometimes land and stay for a while. Recently we grabbed half-dozen spent and resting in the parking lot of a southern Ocean County convenience store and enjoyed an impromptu sortie for bass on a local pond utilizing roll casts on 5-weight fly rods. Not big bass, but bass just the same.

When baiting for carp or catfish, it’s a thread of one and two respectively on light wire octopus-style hooks.

The top water explosions afforded by the whirring of cicada-style surface lure is hair-raising for sure. Our go to with the spinning outfits is the hollow body Chasebaits Ripple

Cicada in the brown drummer pattern. A big bass bomber for sure.

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