Fishing season is upon us. Bluegills will be the focus of many anglers in the following weeks, even months. Many of today’s anglers remember as a youngster the times spent with an adult in search of earthworms that would later be used for bait on a small hook with hopes of landing a mess of bluegills for supper later that night. Many of today’s anglers still search for their own bait, carrying on the tradition to their children, but others do not. Fishermen have options today. They can dig for their own bait, buy it from a retailer or raise it.
Some fisherman see little point in paying for fishing worms when they can dig up their own in abundance. If you have the extra time, you really can save money by locating this awesome fish bait in their natural habitat without a lot of effort.
It is best to dig for earthworms when the ground is soft and moist. I prefer to dig right after a rain when the worms begin to burrow to the surface of the ground. You will have to dig a lot deeper if the ground is dry.
Worms prefer dark, damp areas. Earthworms often frequent logs and large rocks in wooded areas. It is likely to see a few wiggling out in the open when you lift the rocks.
Using a small shovel or spade, dig up moist sections of the ground. As you bring up mounds of dirt, sift through them with your fingers looking for worms.
Place some soil in a small pail to keep any worms you find nourished, and to help prevent them from drying out before they can be used.
Dig only what you will need for your next fishing trip, as worm storage can sometimes be tough. If you think it will be a while before your next fishing trip, consider releasing your unused worms back to the earth. I have also kept earthworms in my refrigerator for up to one week after I have caught them. Just be sure to keep them covered with moist soil.
Maybe you do not feel like digging your own worms. Raising them is easier than you might think. In about six months it is possible to have thousands of healthy worms to choose from.
Begin by purchasing about 100 Red Wigglers worms for breeder stock. You can find worms to purchase for this purpose off of the internet, or ads in many outdoor publications. These are top feeders and will not burrow in the soil like garden worms.
Next, in a watertight container, I like to use plastic storage containers, fill the container with soil (4 to 8 inches deep), depending on the containers size.
Mix in an inch or so of organic matter, such as leaves or rotten straw. Then mix 1 pound of cornmeal and one-half pound of vegetable shortening into the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil. Then add the worms.
Cover the tub with a damp burlap bag or board planks. Add another dose of the cornmeal/shortening mixture in one month and then every two weeks afterward. Add about 1 quart of water while feeding.
Keep the worm bed cool and moist in the summer; it’s best to place it in the shade. A tub 2 feet in diameter and 10 inches deep will give you about 3,000 to 5,000 worms in a year. When you harvest for bait, be sure to leave some worms for breeding stock. Do not feed worms’ meat scraps or bones.
If red wigglers are not your forte there are companies that sell kits that help anglers raise their own meal worms and wax worms. You can find such a company in the back of this publication in the classifieds.
With fishing season at its prime get outside and enjoy it. This weather will only stay around for a while. Whether you dig your own bait, buy it from a local sporting goods store or raise it yourself, you are sure to have a good time, make memories and catch plenty of fish.