My kids are getting to the age now where taking them fishing is becoming a fun favorite past time, but getting expensive. I was recently at the local bait shop to pick up some fresh night crawlers for the day on the water and I almost had a heart attack when the kid behind the counter said “3 dozen worms at $2.50 a dozen….umm let’s see that will be $7.50 please“. Are you kidding me? 2.50 A dozen? So I jumped online and googled live fishing bait, yes I google everything and was shocked to see how big the earthworm industry has grown.
You can now bulk order, shipped to your door guaranteed live flats of earth worms average 500 count worms for roughly $45.00 plus shipping and tax. Wait a minute I though, first off I am in the wrong business! As a kid gowning up I supplied most of my town with live bait at a cost of $1.00 a dozen and I was rich! As a kid, was there any better way to spend your summer nights outside after bed time in a light rain, flash light in hand picking worms and swatting mosquitos? My dad was often employed at zero cost as a second set of hands to help speed up the picking often fighting over the best spots in the yard around the pool. Once picked the worms where stored in a large size Styrofoam cooler filled with shredded paper and worm bedding. Mom and the neighbours would save me all their empty sour cream and margarine containers and that is what I used. It was easy to sell 25 containers at the boat ramp on a Saturday morning and another 25 more on Sunday while I fished from the docks. Ah the good old days. Fast forward to present days and the power of the internet. With a few quick search terms anyone can find all the supplies, instructions and knowledge needed to become a worm farmer.
With a quick trip to my local outdoors supply store, I was able to get all the supplies I needed to start my worm storage box. I use a 45 litre shipping tote as my container, it has deep sides, bi-folding hinged lid doors and handles molded into the sides. For bedding I like the Frabill brand of beading, comes in a 2 lbs block, for less than five bucks. This product comes with food already mixed into the bedding and all you need to do is add water and fluff it up. (insert pic SUPPLIES) I also purchased a container of worm food called “Fat and Sassy“ to maintain my worms throughout the summer and winter, as fish like them Fat but I am not too sure about the Sassy part.
There are numerous ways to get worms out of the ground and into your bait box, most are easy but some take more time and technique. I prefer hunting worms at night when it’s cooler out and there is dew on the grass. Using a flash light and a grid search pattern I work the light quickly from side to side as I slowly move forward scanning for worms laying in the grass. You have to keep the light moving, if you stop for too long focusing the beam on the worm it will retract back down its hole very fast and you will not get a chance to grab it. An easier method if you’re lucky enough to time it correctly is walking down a sidewalk in a spring rain storm. The excess water soaking the ground drives the worms up onto the pavement so that they will not drown. Yes earth worms can drown! In the past finding low laying areas that flood easily and hold water in a down pour are easy areas to pick worms from. In dryer seasons your options are more limited to either digging for worms, turning over rocks and wood piles or “Grunting“. Grunting is the use of vibrations to drive worms to the surface. To grunt the worms out of the ground, you need a stake of metal or wood at least 2 feet long and a roping iron or large wood working rasp. Drive the stake into the ground and kneel beside it. Next draw the rasp or roping iron over the flat end of the stake making a grinding groaning grunting noise. This causes vibration to travel down the stake and into the ground forcing the earthworms to the surface. I have seen this done in videos, but have never tried this method. Having said that though, I have in the past used a sledge hammer or flat axe on an old stump and have had great results driving worms to the surface in the middle of the day. This method doubles as a great work out or increases your wood pile for the winter season! Now that you have your storage container filled with juicy night crawlers, there are a few easy tips to help maintain their “Sassy“ wiggly energy. (Wow maybe that’s where they got the sassy in the fat and sassy food?) Store your worm box out of the sun in a cool place. If you use a smaller box, it can even be kept in the fridge if you don’t mind the milk next to them. I prefer to keep my plastic tote on the garage floor, the concrete keep the bottom of the tote cool and the bedding stays moist. Have fun growing your own bait and you can even experiment with specialized foods you can buy to change their colour making them green or yellow. Most of all you can save a buck or two and never have to go out of your way to buy bait on your next fishing trip.