Worms are the "poster bait" for fishing. Guaranteed to catch almost anything that swims, this organism has become an intrinsic part of our angling history.
|Nightcrawlers are the most readily available worms to snag fish.|
But with bait prices on the rise and the economy on the fall, saving a few bucks makes sense for the savvy and frugal fisherman.With a hands-on approach, you can give yourself a limitless supply of proven bait, all while having some good clean fun doing it. (Ok, you may get a little dirty in the process.)
Search & Capture
Although many varieties of worms exist, nightcrawlers (also called dew worms) are the most readily available. Reaching upwards of 25 cm's in length, their large size and exceptional vigor make them an excellent choice for most angling situations.
As their name suggests, these worms are creatures of the night, heading out under the cover of darkness to eat, breed and defecate. It is at this time that they are most vulnerable. The majority will lie on the grass or earth, the lower half of their body concealed in their "hole." Others will be completely sprawled on the surface of the ground.
In terms of equipment for worm picking, a flashlight or headlamp, as well as a bucket is all that is needed. Once night arrives, slowly and methodically walk grass and soil areas. If rain has recently fallen, concentrations of worms can often be higher.
Nightcrawlers are sensitive to both noise and light, so keep your steps gentle and your use of light sparse. When a crawler is spotted, keeping a direct light on it will often cause a hasty retreat back down its hole — all in the blink of an eye. Instead, slowly move the bright beam out and away from the worm while maintaining visual contact. Once within reach, quickly grasp the worm firmly between thumb and forefinger, and as close to the soil or grass as possible. Apply pressure by gently pulling until it releases its grip from its dirt tunnel. Crawlers are very strong, but a slow and steady tug-of-war will generally win the race.
Collecting worms during the early morning hours, after an overnight rain has fallen, can also be rewarding. Pound the pavement during this productive period, as sidewalks, roads and driveways will often be strewn with these slippery suckers.
Storage & Care
In order to store nightcrawlers, you must provide them with adequate and optimum food, bedding, temperature and aeration. No matter what container you choose, air holes must be provided for circulation. Ensure that they are not large enough for an escape. Styrofoam is a good choice due to its insulating properties, and care should always be taken not to overcrowd.
A temperature range between 45 and 50 degrees is preferred, so a cold cellar or fridge is recommended to maintain this level of comfort. (A hot garage will turn your prized possession into a putrid mess.)
Although you can use regular garden soil for your habitat, a commercial worm bedding that is specially formulated is your best bet. It is economical to buy, and most will last 30 or more days before needing to be changed. Same goes for food. Mold and contamination can set in if kitchen or organic scraps are fed, so I suggest a manufactured worm food when it comes to mealtimes. Frabill produces a variety of worm products that are worth a look.
Collecting worms is a fun and money-saving hobby that is guaranteed to put a bend in the rod. With proper care, your investment can last all season long, and provide you with fresh and ample bait that has been hand picked — one worm at a time.