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How to Grow Worms as Fishing Bait

fishing boy with wormThe cost and inconvenience of buying live bait is a nuisance when fishing with worms. If you only need live worms occasionally, stopping by the bait shop is no big deal. However, frequent worm fishing requires a significant amount of live bait. You save time and money by keeping your own supply of worms on hand. As a pleasant side-effect, the worms generate compost that makes your plants grow strong. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm offers three varieties of fishing worms and advice on cultivating each one.

Types of Fishing Worms

The three types of fishing worms we offer are:

  • Mealworms
  • European Night Crawlers (Super Reds)
  • Red Worms (Red Wigglers)

Draw on your expertise to decide which type of worm you need. Some anglers swear by mealworms for catching panfish; others like the red worm for catching edible fish species. Most agree that the European Night Crawler is perfect for larger fish and ice fishing; panfish also love these larger worms.

Mealworms as Fishing Bait

live mealwormsMealworms are quite versatile bait. You can use them as live loose feed; in pastes and mixes; on hooks, hair rigged, or glued to a cork ball; and for several styles of fishing. Opinions differ on whether the mealworm should be live or dried. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm offers live meal worms. Live meal worms can last up to 9 months under ideal conditions. It’s a balancing act to provide nutrients so they grow, while keeping them cold so they don’t mature. If they are kept too warm, they will mature into Darkling Beetles. See our detailed instructions on keeping mealworms alive.

You can also build your own mealworm farm. First, order live mealworms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. You will be using some for fishing before new mealworms grow to size. Therefore, order extra mealworms for immediate use. Then, look online for instructions and videos on building a mealworm farm.

European Night Crawlers as Fishing Bait

super reds european night crawlersFat and juicy, European Night Crawlers are a treat that few fish can resist! Growing 4″ to 5″ in length, these highly active worms are easy to cultivate. Cupped bait works just fine for spontaneous or infrequent fishing trips. However, avid anglers need a convenient and constant supply of live worms. If you treat your worms well, they will reproduce.You need to make a home for your worms. They must be kept at the right temperature. They will need feeding. Composting is a fun hobby the entire household can enjoy. Composting also reduces trash and odor. Here is the brief checklist:

  1. Find a suitable location for your worm bin or worm box – not too hot, not too cold.
  2. Build or buy a worm bin. For European Night Crawlers, Uncle Jim recommends making a bin from a plastic tote or ordering our Worm Ranch Kit. Make sure the bin has air holes, drainage holes, and a lid.
  3. Order Super Reds (European Night Crawlers) from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.
  4. Set up the bedding according to instructions. Pure peat moss, for example, makes excellent bedding. You will need to moisten and stir the bedding until it feels like a wrung-out sponge.
  5. Place the worms on top of the bedding. Let them dig in.
  6. Provide feedings a few times a week. See worm feeding instructions.

Whenever you need worms for fishing, reach in and grab some! Keeping the bin dark will increase the chances that they will be closer to the surface. These worms tend to live deeper in the bedding. You can use “bait” such as food to attract them to a specific location.

Every 3 to 6 months, harvest some of the material from the bin. Leave the worms in the bin. The bedding will gradually be replaced by worm poop (humus). This organic material is filled with nutrients and soil-friendly bacteria that plants love! Dig humus into your garden and potted plants, spray it on as worm tea, or mix with other material to grow starts. If you don’t need it right away, store it in a sack or bucket, or give it to a neighbor.

Red Worms as Fishing Bait

uncle jim's red composting wormsRed Wigglers or Red Worms are useful as fishing bait. Smaller than Super Reds, Red Worms are perfect composting worms. Fishing enthusiasts use them for catching various panfish. Just follow our instructions above for setting up a worm bin. However, your best bet is to order a tray-based worm bin from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. The trays make harvesting the humus much easier. Also, most of the worms will live in the top trays. They will be easier to find when you want to get out on the water.


Frequent anglers appreciate having live bait on hand. Growing worms as fishing bait saves money and time. The quality of the worms will be high. Trying to find an open bait shop during the wee hours can cut into valuable fishing time. Mealworms, European Night Crawlers, and Red Wigglers are easy to keep at home. Just provide a box, bedding, and food. The worms will do the rest. Every few months, you get a bonus: free fertilizer for your garden. It’s win-win, and you can get started on the Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm website. We are the #1 supplier of composting worms in the United States.

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