How to Raise Worms for Live Bait for Fishing - Uncle Jim's Worm Farm

How to Raise Worms for Live Bait for Fishing

Compost, Fishing, Live Worms

fishingAre you a fishing enthusiast who loves using live fishing worms as bait? Are you tired of the cost and inconvenience of buying live bait? You can easily keep a stock of juicy worms at your fingertips by composting with worms. Your kitchen scraps are going to waste! They would make great food for your fishing worms. As a bonus, you will get plenty of free fertilizer for your garden, lawn, and indoor plants. It’s inexpensive to start, and it takes just a few minutes per week.

Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, is a fairly popular household activity. The worms are kept securely in a composting bin. You can make a basic worm bin from a tote in minutes.

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm offers three types of worms:

  • Red Worms
  • Meal Worms (Darkling Beetle larvae), and
  • Super Reds (European Night Crawlers)

Are Red Worms for Fishing?

Red worms, or Red Wiggler Mix, are ideal composting worms. They voraciously eat up organic matter. Red worms produce prized humus (poop) that provides essential fertilizer and earth-friendly bacteria to plant bedding. However, they are a bit small for fishing. Also, they do not stay alive very long under water. If your primary motivation is to compost all your kitchen scraps, the Red Worm is the way to go. If you are aiming to catch fish on a regular basis, consider instead the European Night Crawler (below).

Meal Worms for Fishing

Meal worms are a traditional, all-natural bait for fresh water fish such as trout. Experienced fishing enthusiasts have different opinions about meal worms versus artificial bait. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm produces both dried and live meal worms for fishing. They are not especially easy to grow yourself, as this involves caring for beetles and timing your fishing trips just right.

European Night Crawlers for Fishing

Plump and up to six inches long, European Night Crawlers are perfect as fishing bait. They can live underwater for a time. Therefore, they will wriggle temptingly, attracting the fish.

European Night Crawlers will be happiest in a tote-style composting bin, and you can make one yourself.

  • Turn a 5-gallon tote upside down and drill a dozen drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Drill air holes high up on the sides.
  • Place the composter on a tray or inside of an identical tote to catch moisture.
  • Add a couple of inches of moistened coconut coir, shredded newspaper (black ink only), decaying leaves, shredded brown corrugated cardboard, pure peat moss (no chemicals), and/or small amounts of untreated wood chips. See “Worm Bedding Basics.”
  • Sprinkle small amounts of water and stir. The bedding should have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge
  • Empty a bag of European Night Crawlers (Super Reds) from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm on top of the bedding. The worms will find their own way down into the bedding.
  • Leave the lid off for a few minutes and shine a light inside the bin. This will encourage the worms to dig deep. Then, put on the lid.
  • For more details, see our video, “How to Make Your Own Composter for Worms.”

The worms will feed on kitchen scraps. However, do not give them anything oily, any dairy products, nor any meat. These foods will make the bin rancid and attract vermin. Also, acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus, and pineapple should be avoided. You can cut the food up small, or run them through a food processor.

Bury the food just below the surface to make it easy to find. European Night Crawlers feed near the top of the bedding. Burying discourages fruit flies.

Your bin can be placed indoors, in a semi-heated area such as a garage, or outdoors. However, if the weather is very hot or very cold, your worms might go dormant or even die. Sometimes they lay eggs that hatch when conditions are better. Learn more about temperature extremes: hot and cold.

A well-maintained worm bin has a slightly earthy odor. If the smell is important, take out anything that is stinking up the bin. Some folks find that banana peels and broccoli make the bin smell. If the bin has a foul odor, read our article “Keeping Your Worm Bin Odor-Free.”

How to Harvest Worms for Fishing

When it’s time to go fishing, the worms are almost ready. If you just need a handful of worms, gently dig around in the bin. You should find worms that you can pick up and put into a small container.

If you have a whole week of fishing planned with all your buddies, you might need a lot of worms. At risk of depleting the worm population, you can harvest the worms. See our instructions for harvesting worms using a screen.

Worm bin populations regulate themselves most of the time. If you are taking care of the worms, they will reproduce. The worms used for fishing should be automatically replenished by the remaining population of worms after a while. If you take too many worms for fishing, however, the worms might not be able to keep up. Just like over-fishing, removing too many worms can hurt the population. In this case, either wait until the population rebounds or order more worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.

You Are Saving Money

It’s cheaper to dip into your worm bin instead of running to the bait shop. And your own live bait will be the best quality. Your initial bag of worms will quickly pay for itself. You will also have a good supply of finished compost for your garden, lawn, and indoor plants. You can harvest your compost and then dig it into the soil, use it for starts, or make worm tea to spray on your garden and lawn. If you are not a gardener, chances are a family member or neighbor would love free, 100% organic fertilizer.

Uncle Jim has been raising worms on his farm in rural Pennsylvania for 30+ years. We ship anywhere in the continental United States, and our worms are guaranteed to arrive alive or they will be replaced.

19 thoughts on “How to Raise Worms for Live Bait for Fishing

  1. I bought the red nightcrawlers last year and they never got very big or reproduced a lot what did I do wrong we use them for fishing

    1. We use buss worm bedding, we feed them thin potatoes apples carrots but I always use a potato peeler we also use corn meal they really like that no coffee grounds that makes them soft. We have a wood box, and cover them with a potato bag not plastic. and have a night light above them so they wont craw out.

  2. We bought the red and super red worms last year, and there doing great we now have so many we had to build another worm box, we feed them table scraps and corn meal no coffee grounds, there are all kinds of babys and they are nice worms for fishing. We would buy them again if we ran low thank you uncle jims worm farm. And we put a night lite over them so they will not craw out and works great.

    1. Awesome! We live in a rural area of Tennessee where there are lots of lakes and other fishing spots. Our local worm supplier is no longer in business due to a fire. I would love to make this a business. Our temperatures outside can run between 105 in the summer to 0 in a hard winter. These are our extremes. I want to grow nice sized worms to satisfy our discriminating anglers. I realize this will take time and space. We have a basement and some unheated but sheltered outbuildings. I also have a big iron bathtub that could be buried. What are your recommendations about where to start? We also are surrounded by farmers including ourselves. Our soil certainly needs some help!

  3. ASKING…Since Euro Nightcrawlers burrow way down, like to 4 or 5 ft…Can they be raised in the 360 worm farm?

  4. I volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation hospital. We would like to try and raise our own worms for feeding the young and adult birds we care for until release. If I order 2000 red worms, how long would it take to double that number. We go through quite a few at peak season (June-early August). I would like to get it started now to have a good number by peak. Also, how big a container should I have for that many plus room to multiply?

  5. Ive got so so many worms that ive collected with my grandkids. Where i live its no problem getting 6 or 7 sometimes 8 dozen a nite right after a rain shower even if it doesnt rain. But the thing is we have so many n it would be awesome if you all could give me some ideas on where we could sell them. I told the grandkids what ever money comes in they can split it between themselves and put it in there savings account. So any ideas would be greatly appreciated ! Oh and the size of these things are unbelievable and so fat !!! Thanks to you all and god bless !

  6. I started my worm bed with worms I found in the gsrden/yard. They are currently just living in a small plastic storage bin. I just used dirt from the garden and top soil from under leaves to put them in. I’ve never put in any kind of newspaper or cardboard just fruit/vegetable scraps and coffee grounds. I have a lot of worms and plan on putting them in a bigger container. I was wondering if it would be ok to mix the container (like in a rotating barrel) every now and then to keep the dirt from getting packed to tight or would that hurt the worms? Any advise is appreciated. My worms are not used for composting just fishing bait

  7. It is great how this post mentioned that worms, that are used as live bait for fishing, can be kept for a long time and does not require to be refrigerated. My brothers and I have been planning on a fishing trip and we were looking for a wholesale live bail worm provider, but we were uncertain about keeping them fresh. After knowing that so long as they’re alive, it’s still fresh, I feel a lot relieved.

  8. I started a way of composting using earthworms on my own by now i have some experiences on them. This is the 10 years experience so do not give them anything oily, any dairy products, nor any meat. These foods will make the bin rancid and attract vermin. Also, acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus, and pineapple should be avoided.

    1. Hello Gina;

      The Red Wigglers we sell will lay an egg every three months at full maturity. Each egg yields 2 or more baby worms. It takes about 11-16 weeks for them to fully mature. The European Night Crawlers about the same except the eggs only yield one worm per egg.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

  9. I am mainly wanting to raise european night crawlers for fishing. So much of what i read relates to the composting. After we sift the worms and compost. Does the compost contain the eggs? Can i use the compost for other worms? Tnis is my first time trying this. I bought 2 pounds from here. They did not seem to double in amount. It has been 3 months. How much should i be feeding them daily? That seems to bary by what you read. Thanks. Sheri

  10. I’m very interested in getting some Night Cawlers so that when hubby n I go fishing it willnt cost alot to get worms like it did the first time we went fishing just over gathers day weekend as I got 3doz cawlers n we still have lots left over as we fish up in the mountains. So how would I take care of these left over cawlers now . Right now I have them in a ice cream pale with holes on top plus I also have leafs in it to for em
    Also is it safe to be able to feed em corn meal .
    Thanks in advance. New follower from Montana.

    1. Yes you can Jack, if the bin is 10-12 inches deep and large enough that they do not get overcrowded quickly. They like all of the same foods and condtions.

      Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

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