How To Keep Fishing Worms Alive – Easy Steps You Can Do To Ensure Worm Survival

The earthworm has been used for a very long time to catch many species of fish. They are great producers and arguably one of the very best at everything. The problem arises when you are met with the challenge of helping them survive. Knowing how to keep fishing worms alive is an essential part of your success with them largely in part to fish preferring an option that wiggles and squirms. The way it moves counts big. Without the intended action of the bait, you will get very few strikes from bigger fish and they will lose a lot of potential drawing power.

There are some steps you can take to greatly reduce the amount of risk that the bait faces. They will die if not cared for right. They are very fragile and many refuse to take care of them. They are actually pretty easy to care for though. Those steps include knowing some very basic principles and some very basic knowledge of worms in general as well as their behaviors and biology. While we generally will be covering common varieties found in tackle stores, these can be used for most species. The following tutorials will help you successfully look after red worms, European nightcrawlers, and many other similar yet related species. Make sure to try the steps.

How To Keep Worms Alive at Home Easily Without Stress

 1. Maintaining The Proper Temperature For Survival

Your job will be made a lot easier if you possess a way to keep the worms insulated. Good insulation means that they will not die from overheating or from being too cold. It means that it will keep their temperature at a constant level regardless of the weather conditions outside. These creatures tend to overheat and freeze easily. The heat will often cause their metabolism to rise. That means that they need a lot more energy and a lot more food to live.

A very large portion of the care needed to take care of them in your dwelling place is often cut out for you. As far as making sure the bait survives, it doesn’t require a ton of effort. You often only need one thing if you plan to keep them for a month or less. It is something you probably already have. A refrigerator. In much the same way that you would find the worms inside of a fridge at the local tackle store, this is how you want to store them. If you have a common refrigerator at your home,  you already have the perfect place to keep them in.

Letting them stay inside the fridge will do a few things. First of all, it will prevent drastic temperature spikes that can cause your bait to go into shock. Since most modern refrigerators are well-insulated and are designed with the sole purpose of maintaining a constant temperature, you don’t have to worry about how hot or cold the air temperature gets.

Single can of soda pop resting on a top refrigerator shelf.

Second, it will cool them down to about forty degrees Fahrenheit. On the surface, this particular temperature may seem a little cold, but that is what is good about it. Keeping them in a colder environment that they can still tolerate without dying keeps their metabolism down. They are very much the same in this aspect as fish. In colder weather, they have a much slower metabolism.

This means that they eat much less and they use a lot less energy. Giving them the cold shoulder is actually beneficial as long as you don’t freeze them to death. The cooler environment puts them in survival mode. They will focus purely on surviving. You will actually get their help in this phase. As far as storing them in the fridge, many anglers will have a problem with the fact that they are putting them inside the place they keep their food.

They have fears of cross-contamination and other sanitary reasons. It is a valid concern, but it holds no weight. The container they come in is likely just a plastic tub with a lid. It is quite comparable to a tub of chicken salad or coleslaw. The lid may have tiny air holes in it but this will not hurt anything at all.

They will not contaminate your fridge shelf, they won’t ruin the surface of the glass, and they won’t make any food near them spoil or anything remotely similar to it. If it bothers you at all (and it shouldn’t), just give the shelf a quick wipe with a cloth after using your favorite disinfectant on it.

2. Keep The Bedding Damp With Proper Hydration

Many anglers when they first start out almost always tend to forget one thing. They often forget to check for proper hydration levels. Hydration refers to how much water is present in the bedding material. The peat moss that the crawlers or wigglers live in when you purchase them always will have a damp feel to it. There’s a reason for that. More of a need and requirement than an optional want, the bedding always needs to be damp to the touch. This is primarily because of the way they breathe.

All species breathe through their skin. Having the water gives them a steady supply of oxygen.  The water will allow them to breathe easily. Unlike a human being, they don’t possess lungs and unlike a fish, they lack gills.

Drops of rain resting on leaves on a forest floor while raining.

Once the bedding gets a little dry to the touch,  you will want to add a little bit of purified distilled water to the bedding. As is the same story with keeping minnows alive, using tap water can be a bad idea because it often contains chemicals and a lot of extra additives that can be toxic to the worms unless it is treated first. Things like chlorine, fluorine, and fluoride to name a few.

Don’t overdo it with the water either.  You want to use just enough to add moisture back into the bedding and no more. They can drown if you are not careful. To much water will do much more harm than good. A good idea is to use a spray bottle and spritz the bedding when it starts to dry out.

3. Provide Healthy Food For Consumption And Hunger

Assortment of many fresh vegetables inside of a retail store.

Keeping them in the fridge is all well and good if you are planning on using up your bait in a month or less but what about longer-term survival? This means you want to feed them. They will get hungry. Naturally, you want to feed them. They love to eat things like used coffee grounds and vegetable matter. Providing food is a lot easier than one might think. If you drink coffee every morning, you can use the used leftover grounds to provide the creatures with a nice meal.

Even if you do not drink coffee, it makes a very inexpensive way to provide food for them. Just soak some grounds in hot water for a few minutes and let them cool. Another option is fruit and vegetable scraps. They love to consume and eat vegetables and fruits. If you have red wrigglers and you want to keep them for long-term storage, consider building a worm farm. Red worms are the only species that will breed fast enough to make this a viable option to consider.

Just placing little bits of vegetables in the tub will cause them to eat it. They eat things like leaves naturally in the wild. The things you should feed your worms are generally basic in nature and fairly straightforward. Feed them vegetables, paper, eggshells, pasta, bread, coffee, tea bags, and fruits. There is also commercially prepared feed available such as Magic worm food.

How To Keep Worms Alive On The Go Away From Home

1. Get A Good Container Or Cooler To Keep Them In

Now that we have gone over what the best method to keep them alive at home is, we are ready to delve into keeping them lively and wiggly in the absence of a fridge. These are places such as in your car, in your boat, or on the water which is ultimately the most important. If you live in very warm climates, things may prove a little more challenging. If you live in a colder one or prefer fishing in winter, things are a little bit easier.

When the thermometer gets above a certain point, not only will your bait die instantly, but it will actually start to dry out in the tub. It will quite literally make worm bacon. That means you cannot count on the action of the bait to entice strikes for you. If they are touching any part of the side of the tub at all, they will actually start to stick to the sides of the plastic and it will start to stink really badly.

Enough to make many anglers pinch their noses. If this happens to be inside of your car, it is just a nightmare because you have to drive with it, roll the window down and hope you don’t have to clean anything later. The same thing can happen if you drop it in your boat. If this does start to happen, do not worry too much. It will not go to waste. It makes an excellent choice for small channel catfish bait and Bluegill. Also, dead bait just doesn’t produce near as well when compared to the same kind if it is alive.

You will catch a lot less fish this way. These are just some of the reasons why it is important to store them in such a way that the sun cannot get to them and warm them up. Even the surrounding air without direct sunlight can have a lethal effect on them. How do you remedy this? You need a very good container. A very well-insulated container.

Styrofoam doesn’t usually work too well because it is very fragile and is not a good candidate for keeping out the heat. A common tool used to accomplish this is a cooler or icebox. You can choose to have ice in it or not. It doesn’t really matter too much. The ice is always nice for keeping them cold and it drastically helps, but the cooler still provides reliable shelter from the sun and warmer atmosphere which is what you really want.

The important thing is that they don’t gain body heat in the process of keeping them. It is in essence, a makeshift fridge. Think of it as your fridge away from your fridge. You are attempting to simulate the optimal conditions you would normally have if you had access to a fridge on your trip. Also, remember to open the lid of the container once every hour or two if the container is airtight to allow for oxygen flow so they do not suffocate. Alternatively, the bucket you keep them in can have an oxygen source.

2. Keep The Bedding Damp With Proper Hydration

As was mentioned before, moisture and hydration levels are extremely important to the longevity of the bait. You always have to make sure that the little buggers are hydrated but not too much. Even on the go, hydration is important. It is probably even more important when you are outside because of how weather likes to affect water. If it is a very hot day, using a little bit of cold or ice water in the bedding of the worms cools them down and regulates their body temperature to a point where they can survive rather easily. Water can help them survive easier.

More water may need to be added depending on if the weather evaporates the water out of the bedding quicker than you would like. If you are able, you want to keep them moist and cool for the best results even while you are fishing. Heat makes them work harder and die quicker but cold temperatures have the opposite effect. Another important thing to remember is that these creatures are fragile and delicate cold-blooded animals. That means that their blood will change depending on the temperature of the environment in which they live. It will go up and down.

You want to add new water but only a very little bit. Just enough to rehydrate the bedding. Don’t wet the bait, don’t make any indoor swimming pools with a diving board and water slide, and don’t go crazy with it at all. Just a few drops or just one tiny ice cube placed on top of the bedding is enough to make them happy. When you do it, add it very slowly so they can acclimate. Cold-blooded animals hate drastic changes in temperatures. It can kill them easily. Also, never forget to tip over the container to drain out the excess liquid if there is any.

To Sum Everything Up – Live Bait Is Good Bait

There is no debate as to why someone would choose live bait over dead. It produces more fish. If you know how to keep fishing worms alive and you follow some specific steps, you can count on always having a squirming struggling meal to offer your targeted fish. Then, you can start to see your catch rate go up and stay there for a lot longer. Regardless of what fish you are after using them, one thing holds true. They work. They make great options to consider for panfish, bass, catfish, crappies, and even species like pike and walleye will hit an earthworm. The problem with using them is that they die before you actually want them to. Don’t be caught with dead bait on accident again. Learning the process to keep them healthy and happy isn’t very hard once you know how to.

What is your preferred method of caring for your bait? Feel free to leave a reply below this post if you want to suggest anything. You can help us catch more fish too!

8 thoughts on “How To Keep Fishing Worms Alive – Easy Steps You Can Do To Ensure Worm Survival”

  1. Thank you for this wonderful information. I mainly fish on boat. But sometime I go fishing beside lake, so then I can keep my bait alive. When I go fishing on a boat, I use live bait and I recently installed a livewell pump on my boat to keep the live bait and the fish alive.
    Thank you again for sharing this information with us.

    • Hello Andrew. You are very welcome. We are glad that you found the information helpful and that you stopped by. Keeping bait alive by keeping it in the water IS VERY effective. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask. We hope to hear from you again soon.

  2. Thank you for this post! It was surprisingly hard to find simple no nonsense directions for keeping worms alive. I’ve recently started fishing quite a bit and it is probably my favorite thing to do so I was looking to save money on worms and keep the ones I dig up myself happy which leads me to my question– in regards to the type of dirt I use, would a mixture of dirt from my garden, garden soil from a bag, some of the mud and leaves I found the lil guys in and compost make my worms happy or is that overkill?
    Thanks again for all the great information!!!

    • Hello. Worms are very sensitive to their environment. Its always better to keep them in the same material you found them in, if possible.


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