Gut Rumbles

September 14, 2005

a "grampus"

All three of Mommie's sons swear thet they're NOT lying to me about this creature, but I still find their stories difficult to believe. Have YOU ever heard of a "grampus?"

According to my uncles, these things grow as a worm in the creeks all over southeast Kentucky. They make excellent fish bait, so if you go out and catch a few, you can sell them for a good price. At the end of the summer, they develop a hard shell and they're no good for fishing unless you peel them first. In the fall, they turn into butterflys (or moths) and fly away.

I think my uncles are just blowing smoke up my ass, but Mommie says it's true, too, and she doesn't lie. I Googled the name and got a lot of pages talking about dolphins. I know we don't have THOSE in eastern Kentucky.

Have YOU ever heard of (or SEEN) a "grampus?"


As far as I can find, a grampus is either:
A) An alternative name for an orca.
B) A doplhin genus.
C) A Confederate river steamer.
D) Several ships in the USN and the Royal Navy/Submarine fleet.

Posted by: Grand Fromage on September 14, 2005 03:35 AM

Rob, that's probably a local pronounciation of hellgrammite and they do make good bait. If you see the adults on your screens at night, it'll give you a case of the shits!

Posted by: Bogdaddy on September 14, 2005 06:00 AM

Used to catch them for a couple of bass fishermen. They paid 10 cents each for them and you could earn 4 or 5 bucks for few minutes wading Boones Creek in the hot summer. Pretty good money for a 12 year old hillbilly in the 60's. I do think they were just hellgramites though..never saw one morph into a moth and fly away.

Posted by: Joe on September 14, 2005 07:14 AM

I remember them as a boy growing up in E. TN. Rather large as I recall, but definitely an insect.

Posted by: Deliverance on September 14, 2005 07:45 AM

Never heard of them but some people swear in the Everglades there is a motengator which is a mean mother of an alligator with a head on each end! eats all the time and is a nasty tempered critter.

Posted by: GUYK on September 14, 2005 08:59 AM

...a mean mother of an alligator with a head on each end! eats all the time...

I'd be nasty tempered too if I ate all the time and couldn't take a shit.

Posted by: McGehee on September 14, 2005 01:10 PM

Vinegaroon is the scientific name

Posted by: ken on September 14, 2005 02:14 PM

Dolphin makes pretty good bait too :)

Posted by: Graumagus on September 14, 2005 06:06 PM

They have these critters in the Pacific Northwest also. I fish Odell Lake, a high lake at 5,000 feet in the Cascades. During the spring, you wade in the clear, cold shallow water and look for what appears to be a cigarette ash under water. That is the thin shell of the critter. Using a #6 or #8 hook, thread one of these on and the lake whitefish will go nuts over them, and you may get an occasional trout.

Posted by: Rivrdog on September 14, 2005 06:10 PM

There is such an animal in most of the rivers in Southwest Va. They are an oversized lizard (waterdog), i've seen them 8-10 inches. They will clean off your stringer of fish if you leave them in the water at night like us country folks sometimes do. They will also clean off your hook and sometimes get hooked. We drove a peg through the head of everyone we caught as a kid. Yep, it is called a Grampus, don't know it's proper name.

Posted by: scrapiron on September 14, 2005 08:31 PM

from south carolina we call them rock
lice best bait for catfish they have two
pinchers on their head and give a
painful bite best time to use them is after
a rain and the river starts rising and starts
getting muddy.
johnny in south carolina

Posted by: johnny on September 14, 2005 08:55 PM

I used to have a grumpus.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on September 15, 2005 05:07 PM

Sounds like something out of a Stephen King movie. Don't know much on the subject except I'm pretty sure that Dolphins don't turn into butterflies and fly away in the fall........ Never heard of 'em.

Posted by: DrugStore Cowboy on September 16, 2005 02:30 PM

Dear Acidman

A lot of folks around Eastern KY and Southwest VA call the creatures you describe a grampus. Actually what they mean are helgramites. These can be found under the rocks by the river unti they sprout wings and fly away.

However, there is also a creature called a grampus, a type of lizard. Don't have any idea why us folks from this part of the country call them grampuses instead if helgramites. Easier to say I guess.

Posted by: Kimmy on December 19, 2006 09:40 AM

My dad always called a Grampus a lizard like creature that lives in creeks and will bite your line when you are fishing. He said that they are ugly as homemade sin. He is 72 years old and said he hasnt seen any in years tho.

Posted by: Jen on May 6, 2007 09:28 PM

They are definately in West Virginia and they are 6" long with wings after they crawl out of the river....and are good fish bait...but if they grab hold of you will bleed...they are in the scorpion family...

Posted by: Rick on September 1, 2009 02:17 PM

Ironically, when I was very young (9 or 10) growing up in southeastern Kentucky, I caught a fish which appeared to walk out of the water on all fours. It scared the crap out of me and my fellow youthful fishermen. We were informed it was a "Grampus." It looked like a catfish only with four legs.

Posted by: Dan on October 13, 2009 08:15 PM
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