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How Do I Catch Worms for Fishing and Composting?

fishing with wormsEarthworms make great fishing bait, and they also speed up composting. Maybe you are tired of using artificial lures or over-paying for small quantities at the bait shop. Or perhaps you’ve decided to start composting kitchen scraps. Adding European Night Crawlers or Red Worms to the composting bin will make the waste break down faster. Either way, you can catch the worms yourself or get them cheaper online.

Types of Worms

First, you want to figure out which types of worms to catch. There are around 182 taxa of earthworms in North America. Of these, two are especially useful:

  • The European Night Crawler is called Eisenia hortensis or Dendrobaena veneta in Latin. This earthworm grows to 6 inches long. They grow to the diameter of a pencil. It has a bluish, pink-grey color with bands or stripes. The end of its tail might be pale yellow or cream. At Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we call them “Super Reds.” These are especially good for fishing because they continue to wiggle for quite a while on the hook underwater.
  • The smaller Red Worms are also known as red wiggler worms, manure worms, panfish worm, brandling worms, tiger worms, trout worms, tiger worms, red Californian earth worms, and Eisenia fetida. Red Worms are smaller and thinner than European Night Crawlers. These champion composting worms are ideally suited to turning waste kitchen scraps into finished compost quickly.

Get Ready for Worms

When you get ready to go worm hunting, prepare a container with holes in the lid or a bucket. Add an inch or two of soil. You will place any worms you catch on top of the soil. The bucket will get them home.

If you plan to use the worms for fishing right away, you won’t need a permanent home for them. A Styrofoam cooler with some dirt and bedding in the bottom will do. However, for a renewable supply of fishing worms or for composting, you will need a worm bin. You can make a worm bin out of a tote. Or, buy a composting bin online. Follow our instructions for adding worm bedding and finding a good location for the worms.

Where to Find European Night Crawlers

The European Night Crawler loves garden soil and lawns. It can also be found in dead plant material on the forest floor. And, they like decaying material such as manure. They tend to live deeper in the soil than Red Worms. These worms can burrow down up to 6.5 feet! But don’t worry, we will explain how to find them without digging a deep trench.

Where to Find Red Worms

Red worms are called “manure worms” for a reason. In case digging up manure isn’t your thing, look for decaying plant material. They tend to stay close to the surface, or sometimes on top of the ground. They also enjoy lawns and gardens.

Catch Worms Using Cardboard

The easiest and most passive worm-catching method involves brown corrugated cardboard. Moisten a large sheet of cardboard with a hose or watering can. Place it on the ground overnight. In the morning, lift the cardboard. You will find plenty of worms! The worms are attracted to the yummy cardboard (see our article “Can I Feed Cardboard to My Worms“?)

Catch Worms During and After Rain

There are several reasons worms come to the surface when it rains hard. Their tunnels fill up with water. They breathe through their skin. If the tunnels become blocked, they will suffocate. Additionally, worms can move easily on the surface, but they need to stay moist. The wet ground is fine for traveling, even at risk of getting scooped up by a bird — or by a worm hunter!

Put on your waterproof boots and rain slicker. You will soon gather a batch of worms.

Dig Up Worms

Got a year-round stream nearby? Look for fallen leaves and other decaying matter on the bank. Worms will likely hang out there. Dig into the soil or mud with a shovel. Also look under logs and rocks. In the woods, use a rake to overturn the plant litter. These worms are sensitive to vibration so don’t stomp around.

Bad Advice

Several websites encourage you to pour noxious substances on the ground to draw worms to the surface. Others say that shocking the ground with a large battery will get those worms hopping. This is about as sporting as fishing with dynamite! Pouring soapy water on the ground could ruin your lawn or garden. Tasered worms won’t live as long. Use some elbow grease, and you will have a much healthier worm population.

How Many Worms?

If you need more than just a few days’ worth of fishing worms, you’ll want them to breed. This means providing a composting bin, feeding them, and occasionally harvesting the worm castings. Happy worms reproduce every three months. These types of worms can eat about half their weight in food each day. If you set up a worm bin, you will have both fishing worms and free fertilizer for your garden.

Don’t have the time and energy for worm hunting? Coming up empty handed? Can’t tell the difference between worms? Want to get lots of quality, live worms at low prices? Order 250, 500, 1000 or more worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.

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