The large earthworms called nightcrawlers make excellent fishing bait. Many different species of fish will grab a nightcrawler served up to them in a variety of presentations. Although you can buy nightcrawlers for your fishing escapades at bait shops and convenience stores, you will save money by picking them yourself right off your own lawn or local ball field.
Things You’ll Need:
- Plastic coffee container
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Red cellophane
Fill your container halfway with moss, wet leaves, grass clippings or worm bedding. This will keep the nightcrawlers in good shape after you pick them. If you have a headlamp, adjust it to a setting that provides you with enough light to see well but not so bright as to scare off the light-sensitive crawlers. The Black Lake New York website suggests putting red cellophane over your headlamp or flashlight to tone down the intensity.
Walk outside gingerly on a warm, damp evening. Nightcrawlers will not come up out of the ground in large numbers in dry or cold conditions. However, in most places in the United States, these worms will come out if the weather is damp from early spring to the middle of autumn. A rainy night is the best time to pick nightcrawlers.
Turn on your headlamp or flashlight. The headlamp gives you the advantage over a flashlight because with a flashlight, you have to hold it and the container in the same hand as you pick worms. Walk softly so as not to create vibrations that will alert the worms to your presence.
Scan the ground ahead of you with your light as you proceed in a hunched over posture. If you stand erect, you lose precious time having to bend over once you spot a nightcrawler, and the worm can sense the light and go quickly down its hole. Look for any reflection of the light on the moist bodies of the nightcrawler. Stay where the grass is low on your lawn or field in which you are hunting for worms. This allows you to see the nightcrawler more easily.
Shine your light away from the night crawler once you spot it. Right before you try to grasp it, put the light back on it. Use your thumb and first two fingers to grab the worm as close to its hole as possible. Often you cannot determine where the hole is, so your best option is to grab the night crawler by its thickest end. Squeeze hard enough so the worm cannot escape and pull up on it. If the nightcrawler is all the way free of its hole, you will have no problem catching it. If it still is partly in its hole, you must apply steady pressure until it relents and comes out all the way. Refrain from pulling hard, as this will break the nightcrawler in half. Put the nightcrawler in your container, and continue.
Tips & Warnings
- Remember the places where the nightcrawlers were plentiful and revisit them after completing your tour of the lawn or field. Nightcrawlers will quickly resurface after you pass by, giving you a shot at those that escaped your first efforts.
- Do not be discouraged by the ones that get away. The odds are that as many as half the nightcrawlers that even an experienced worm picker sees will escape.
- Keep your worms in the same container, marking it clearly as fishing bait and placing it in your refrigerator. The nightcrawlers will keep for weeks.