Spring shortages: Crickets and toilet paper?

Kenny Kavanaugh serves up a bucket of crickets to a customer at K&M in Farmerville.
Kenny Kavanaugh serves up a bucket of crickets to a customer at K&M in Farmerville.

The spring of 2020 will be one most people remember for their entire lifetime. One reason is because so many people were faced with shortages. Most everybody is familiar with the shortage of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. But there was another shortage that required rationing that many people don’t know about. Crickets.

That’s right. Crickets and toilet paper.

“I’ve never seen so many people fishing in my life,” said Darren Hebert, manager of the Spillway Sportsman in Port Allen. “So many people were stuck at home because of the pandemic that in early April, we ran short of crickets and we ran out of crickets. Our distributors were working like crazy to keep us supplied, but they just couldn’t do it. When we started getting them back in, we had to ration them to 100 per customer just so everybody could get some bait. We couldn’t let people hoard the crickets. Hoarding crickets. That doesn’t sound real, does it?”

Darren Hebert of the Spillway Sportsman shows a bucket of prized crickets. This spring, the Sportsman and other dealers had to ration crickets to allow everybody to get to go fishing.
Darren Hebert of the Spillway Sportsman shows a bucket of prized crickets. This spring, the Sportsman and other dealers had to ration crickets to allow everybody to get to go fishing.

The same thing happened with worms, especially cold worms, and shiners to some extent, but it was crickets that made the top of everybody’s fishing needs list.

“I’m glad that people went fishing instead of just staying home,” he said. “We saw a tremendous number of people who were coming in that had never picked up a pole and gone fishing before,” he said. “We turned over our inventory of everything from bait to split shot to corks 3-4 times every week for almost a month.”

The same thing happened all across the state.

Sales doubled

Kenny Kavanaugh of K&M Coffee, Corks & Camo in Farmerville gave the same report.

“It was unbelievable,” said Kavanaugh. “We normally stock about 20,000 crickets for a weekend (that’s enough to supply 200 fishermen with 100 crickets apiece) and it’s usually plenty. But those sales doubled early in April.”

Kenny said he had 25,000 on hand the weekend before Easter, but by Sunday, they had sold out. When the cricket man came in on Monday morning for his regular delivery, there was a line of people waiting with their cricket boxes in hand.

“Most of these folks were regular fishermen that we see a lot, but there were many people who haven’t fished in a while,” he said. “With the Covid situation, they were just looking for something safe to do. Many folks that normally maybe bass or crappie fish were taking their kids on trips. it was a good thing. But I never though we’d run out of crickets.”

According to bait sales, more people fished this spring during the pandemic than any time before. The prize most were seeking were big bream like these.
According to bait sales, more people fished this spring during the pandemic than any time before. The prize most were seeking were big bream like these.

The good news reported from both of these dealers was that the fish seemed to be biting.

“Oh yes, everybody was catching some fish,” said Hebert. “We tried to send the folks who didn’t know where to go to some hotspots our fishermen were telling us about. The folks in boats and those fishing from the banks all seemed to catch fish through April.”

The fish are still biting and sales of live bait is still brisk, both these dealers say. And they expect it to stay that way for the next couple of months.

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Kinny Haddox
About Kinny Haddox 343 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.

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