The best places to use red worms as bait are in rivers and streams as trout, walleye, bluegill, perch, and bass find them irresistible. Unless you're selling red worms as a business, after a year or so of raising them you may find that you're producing even more than you need for fishing and your vermicomposting bins.
Whether you are a worm composter and fisherman wanting to raise your own bait, or you want to start selling red wigglers to fishermen and bait shops, this article will give you some tips on raising worms for fishing. The challenge of using red wigglers as bait is they are much smaller and skinnier than nightcrawlers.
Use the below recipe to fatten up your worms to make them easier to get on the hook and more visible to hungry fish. In order to fatten up your red wigglers for use in fishing, consider adding a few of the below foods to your composting worms diet.
By nature, red wiggler worms live in tight, close colonies. You would be hard-pressed to find a more effective or widely used fishing bait than worms.
Spring through Autumn, both nightcrawlers and red wigglers help anglers catch boat loads of fish. I hear all about using waxes, maggots, spikes and minnows to catch everything from crappie to walleye.
Worms may not be the secret weapon you were looking for, but we are going to lay out the facts and give you all the information you need to increase your success while using them. The majority of ice anglers live in northern states that get absolutely pummeled by deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.
With that in mind, ice anglers probably don’t use worms because of limited availability. They also usually die off in the winter and next year’s worm population arises from eggs laid in the fall.
On top of that, large worms need to be cut into smaller chunks for tipping lures or baiting tiny tungsten ice jigs. With cold hands, most anglers don’t want the mess and small baits like wax worms are easier to use.
By now you’ve probably noticed that ice anglers aren’t avoiding worms because they don’t catch fish. That means in pressured areas with finicky fish, a worm might be the ticket to entice a strike.
It’s not easy, and it takes a fair bit of space to grow a sufficient supply of worms for the winter. Worms generally keep well in the refrigerator with quality bedding and occasional feedings.
You can learn more about catching and caring for your own worms in our complete nightcrawler guide. So, if catching or growing them is not an option, especially in late winter, then buying worms is the only avenue open to you.
Since some stores don’t stock worms in the winter, take a look online. Speedy worm sells other popular ice fishing baits as well, making it great for one-stop shopping.
Let’s take a look at the kind of fish that produce the best catches on worms in the winter. I would prefer using smaller live baits like little meal worms or waxes though.
Perch have small mouths and their tendency to nibble means devouring a large chunk of earthworm is unlikely. They do get finicky sometimes and a big chunk of crawler might spook them so simply size down, and it’s game on.
Tip ice flies or tiny jigs with the tiniest piece of worm you can. While maggots and wax worms are usually a favorite for bluegill anglers, earthworms deliver a unique scent that could spice up your pan fish bite.
In areas with mixed pan fish populations, you’ll have a hard time keeping perch and bluegill away. The key to catching walleye with worms is to rig up with only the most active crawlers.
Dead sticking with a writhing worm on a tungsten jig near bottom can be quite successful when walleye seem extra lazy. Lake Trout Big Lakers are cruising for food in the winter and a small worm just isn’t attractive enough.
Instead, larger live or dead minnows, big spoons and soft plastics are what you need to drag up trophy sized lake trout. Dead bait like suckers, smelt and chubs make a more appetizing mouthful for giant pike.
Pike scavenge and hunt constantly for a meal and worms are unlikely to get them excited. My favorite worm delivery method is a small tungsten jig.
Put a small worm chunk on the jig and load your pole into the Fisher or Jaw Jacket. I also like to use little spoons and jigging Raps tipped with small pieces of nightcrawler.
In this case, use your favorite jigs, lures or even a drop shot style setup and put a more substantial piece of worm on. A common dilemma for many ice anglers is keeping bait alive and active in the freezing.
Whether you use worms, spikes, maggots, waxes or minnows, fresh lively bait gets a bit more. Once temperatures drop well below freezing, it only takes a few minutes exposed to the elements and your bait is dead.
They fit in an inside pocket and your body heat keeps them warm. Which means you’ll be shoving a much larger worm container in your pocket.
If you’re staying in one place, or you’re in a tent or shack, keeping worms comfy is far simpler. However, as early ice gives way to the cold clutches of mid-winter, fish get accustomed to seeing the same baits over and over.
It’s during these tough bites on pressured lakes that reverting to the common earthworm is key. The difference in taste, smell and presentation is all it takes to turn your day around.
Whether you target trout, pan fish or walleye, add some worms to your ice fishing arsenal, and you won’t be disappointed. Eugenia Fetid is probably the most common of these 2, although the difference is not easily distinguished without scientific analysis.
They are pretty active on the hook and as a result, seem to attract fish fairly well. Because they can tolerate a huge range of temperatures they do not require refrigeration and if given the right conditions they will stay alive and vibrant for their entire lifespan and even reproduce for you, multiplying at an incredible rate.
Red Wigglers are decent fishing worms but are not the best worms for bait fishing. This worm as its name implies comes primarily from Canada and from some of the most northern states of the U.S. Canadian Nightcrawlers cannot be raised in captivity without extreme difficulty, in fact, we know of no one who has been successfully able to do so.
This says a lot since fishing in Australia is about as huge as baseball is in the United States. If I were guessing, I would bet that fishing is the second favorite pastime after drinking beer, and of course, they often go very nicely together.
From our friends in Australia who raise African Nightcrawlers, they say it has been their most popular fishing worm. One of the other difficulties with African Nightcrawlers is also that they are very sensitive to cold temperatures, they start dying at approximately 50-60 degrees and below, so if you put these guys into your refrigerator you will kill them for sure.
African Nightcrawlers are some of the best and fastest composters around, in fact, they eat/process 2 to 3 times as much food as Red Wigglers. However, they also are telling me that there is another worm that is catching up and will probably pass the African Nightcrawler in popularity once the availability increases and the prices go down.
George Min gin, the owner of Kookaburra Worm Farms also advised that African Nightcrawlers are of no use fishing in salt water, they die very quickly. They are very active on the hook, they tolerate a very wide range of temperatures, so they don't require refrigeration, and they are easy to raise in a controlled environment.
They do not reproduce as fast as Red Wigglers and are a little more particular about their environment, meaning they are a little more sensitive to vibrations and acidic conditions. They also are much bigger than Red Wigglers and this is one of the reasons they make a great fishing worm.
We have, however, spoken to several worm farmers who have been quite successful at growing them quite large, as big as 8-9 inches long and thicker than a pencil. The bigger Euros caught the same size fish as Canadian Nightcrawlers but at a significantly faster rate.
In the picture below, which is a little fuzzy, our apologies, some friends caught an amazing Catfish with small Euros. Our next test is to use some specially grown extra large Euros for Catfish and Walleye and see how well they do.