Worm conditioning, bedding vs. dirt, cooling methods

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Gunnar
Gunnar's picture
Worm conditioning, bedding vs. dirt, cooling methods
<p>I spent a few days getting skunked in the sucker hunt while others fishing beside me caught fish. I realized in the end that it was probably the condition of my worms that sealed my fate.</p> <p>Do worms in shredded bedding last longer or stay healthier or firmer than ones in dirt? Or the other way around?</p> <p>What methods to people use to keep worms cool when an ice chest isn&#39;t practical (such as when hiking long distances to water)?</p> <p>Some old fishing books discuss how to clean and toughen worms. I put pages from one of them (The Boy&#39;s Own Guide to Fishing, Tackle Making and Fish Breeding) on my website a few months ago: http://moxostoma.com/boys-own-guide-to-fishing/ The method suggested there involves moss.</p> <p>Anybody have any suggestions?</p>
Jknuth
Jknuth's picture
I have been using bedding and

I have been using bedding and I have to say it stays cool very well. 
For our trip last week we had about 15-20 dozen crawlers in a foam box (we got from the bait store) Thsi was set inside a large cooler on a rack on the back of my car. We kept the cooler as cool as we could but the worms stayed great. these worms have been in this foam box with bedding since before the roundup. I have had worms survive a winter in the garage in it as well. not sure how. 
I have heard some people use the ground paper pulp insulation for bedding. its cheap at Lowes and looks the same as the comercial bedding. 
I think the dirt tends to press down and heat up due to the larger amounts of bacteria already in the soil.

 

Beverly riffles
Worm conditioning

I have had had excellent results with bedding and keeping them cool by whatever means. Years ago there was a book called Lunkers love night crawlers and I have occasionally seen this book on eBay and on used book sites. It is usually pretty cheap,like less than $10.  I remember reading it years ago and when I used crawlers a lot, subscribed to the principles in the book. Perhaps someone has a copy they would be willing to synopsize for the site?  I think I have a copy lost somewhere in my hoarding. I will look. I really like the small crawlers or better yet regular garden worms on a number eight mustad 3261 for suckers and redhorse. 

Gunnar
Gunnar's picture
Interesting idea about the

Interesting idea about the bacteria. I wonder.

I wish bait machines disclosed what their worms were living in. I seldom find them in bedding--it's always dirt. I guess I should buy some bedding and do it myself. I wonder how the crazily active worms from my compost would do when transferred to clean bedding.

Thanks for the insulation tip. I'll give it a look if I get into large scale worm keeping.

 

Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com


2020: 10 days fishing 11 species 0 lifers. 2019: 34/45/13 2018: 39/40/5

Gunnar
Gunnar's picture
Here's a short bit I found on

Here's a short bit I found on some other site about that book and its technique:

Haven't you guys ever read "Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers"? picked this up out there maybe 35 years ago. wash your worms off and get the dirt off of them, then put them in a styrofoam minnow buck fill about a 1/3 w/water then fill the rest with ice. do this the night before you go fishing and those crawlers will suck up that cold water and be thick and lively. try it works like a charm, and your boat stays clean!!!
I have that "Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers" book...read it.....and you can make supercrawlers by using the cold water technique.....up to 12 inches long crawlers!!!!

I'm pretty new to using worms, but I've never heard/thought of washing them or soaking them. Given how long they can live in water, I can see how spending a long time in it would plump them up. I always thought it softened them, but according to other things I found while googling the Lunkers book, they actually get tougher after soaking in cold water.

 

Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com


2020: 10 days fishing 11 species 0 lifers. 2019: 34/45/13 2018: 39/40/5

Jknuth
Jknuth's picture
When i am going for

When i am going for Smallmouth bass I will often soak my crawlers in cold water. It works but dont leave them in too long.
 

Corey
Corey's picture
Cool Worms

You can buy a crawler container with an integrated ice pack, which is useful but bulky.  You can also add a small ice pack to your crawler container if it's insulated.  In general, if you pay extreme amounts of attention to keeping them out of the sun (I like to find some wet sand in a shady area near shore, dig a hole, and put the crawler container in the hole.  The subsurface wet sand is cool) you'll eliminate a lot of problems.  Also, just don't ever let the sun hit your crawlers.  Put a pine bough or your hat over them at the very least.  

 

For long-distance hiking, what you want is the small styrofoam crawler box.  Some places sell their crawlers in little white micro-coolers with tight-fitting lids.  I recently saw them in a Holiday gas station in Ellsworth, WI, but I've seen them elsewhere as well.  4 inches square and two inches tall, with styrofoam walls half an inch thick, the small foam crawler box is worth cleaning out and re-using.  Because they are made of thick styrofoam, they are much better at maintaining a cool environment for the worms than plastic tubs are.  I've seen them in white or light green.  If you buy crawlers in tubs and transfer them into foam boxes, they will stay lively much longer.

 

Also, you can condition them by packing them tightly into a container filled with damp paper towels and putting them in the fridge overnight.  You have to squeeze the excess water out of the towels so the worms are not sitting in water - which will kill them.  You want the worms and towels tightly compressed in the container.  In the morning, they'll be so plump and lively they'll jump out of the box and poke your eyes out.

Gunnar
Gunnar's picture
Thanks, Corey.

Thanks, Corey.

I laughed out loud at the end and I think my wife's looking at me funny.

 

Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com


2020: 10 days fishing 11 species 0 lifers. 2019: 34/45/13 2018: 39/40/5

Beverly riffles
Worm conditioning

I am using one of those heavy styrofoam boxes that Omaha steaks or whatever frozen shipped food comes in. They are very sturdy and have a tight fitting lid (very necessary).  Sometimes you can get these boxes off of the free category on Craigslist. Some people can actually afford to buy their food that way and accumulate quite an excess. On a slightly related topic. You can keep about 150 craw dads in an average sized foam cooler by layering them in there with cold water soaked blue jeans pants legs. Rinse everything every couple days and keep in the shade under the camper etc. 

Tyler W
Tyler W's picture
Lunch Bag

Anyone who has fished with me knows I always carry a "bait bag" and a tackle bag. The bait bag is a lunch size soft sided cooler. My worms don't leave the house with out it. I found that simply getting into a hot car (with out a cooler) would kill my worms within 10 minutes. 20 minutes in summer heat does the same thing. Can't get much fishing done in 20 minutes...

Now that you have a cooler to keep your fresh pointy worms in: ice. I like to freeze water bottles to use as ice packs. Keeps your worms cool and gives you something to drink on a hot day. Otherwise, get some a bunch of ice packs. (My favorite kind is called "Ice Brix") Even one small ice pack can save a lot of worms.

Gunnar
Gunnar's picture
I do the frozen water bottles

I do the frozen water bottles trick to cool worms when I have them in a cooler in the car. Saves me from dehydration and saves my worms for a while.

 

 

Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com


2020: 10 days fishing 11 species 0 lifers. 2019: 34/45/13 2018: 39/40/5

Jason E.
Jason E.'s picture
I'm with Tyler.  The small,

I'm with Tyler.  The small, soft sided cooler bags work great.  I also take old soda or water bottles and fill them with water.  I put them in the freezer.  That goes next to my bait containers.  Or, I use old butter or hummus containers and fill them with water and put them in the freezer.  An old Cool Whip container is even better.  A large block of ice will ALWAYS outlast ice cubes and the sealed ice holder keeps the melting ice from saturating your worm beddings (since we all know that soaked and goopy bedding is not good for worms).

In terms of bedding, old horse poop works great (about 2-4 weeks old is best).  That might seem gross, but trust me, it's not like cow scat at all.  It is largely undigested hay or grass that does not smell bad.  By 2-4 weeks, the flies and smell are largely gone.  My in-laws have a horse farm, and not only does the old horse poop make great bedding, but the worms naturally head for it.  Essentially, I started hunting around for worms, and figured out where THEY like to live.  The answer?  Compost piles on my in-laws horse farm.  The worm density in them is amazing.  I'd say there is about 5-10 worms per square foot of compost versus 1-2 worms in regular soil.  Since that's what my worms want, that's what they get. 

I would add, however, that old coffee grounds seem to liven worms up nicely (caffeine hounds?).  I also agree with Corey, keep worms out of the sun at all costs.  Also, wild worms (those not purchased from the store) are livelier.  Apparently, having to run from birds and other critters keeps them in better shape than just sitting around in containers day after day. 

Dutch
Dutch's picture
Apparently, having to run

Apparently, having to run from birds and other critters keeps them in better shape than just sitting around in containers day after day

Guess thats why i'm so lazy, I sit in a container all day.