Over the years, I fished with several anglers that would use his “Not” so live bait until it would no longer stay on the hook. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the money to buy fresh bait, I think they over did the “If you don’t have your hook in the water, you aren’t going to catch fish” bit. It amazed me why they refused to understand why others caught more fish than they did.
Fresh live bait will catch fish, bait that is beat up, torn or damaged may catch a few fish, but not as many as fresh live bait will.
I know you have heard the warm weather excuse, when it is hot; bait is just hard to keep alive. I know that is true, but by spending a little time and a few bucks, you are going to save money on live bait as when you want to use it, it will be there swimming or squirming around not floating belly up or decaying before your eyes.
Where I live, there are hundreds of nightcrawlers out when it rains and we can pick our own.
To keep my crawlers fat and healthy I keep them in Frabill Fat N Sassy Worm Bedding, it’s pre-mixed so you don’t need to add water, you don’t need to worry about adding to much water to your mixture as it’s ready for your bait. Unlike some bedding that may mold or get sour, Fat N Sassy is biodegradable, it has a built in food source with a one pound box large enough to hold three dozen night crawlers or nine dozen of the smaller worms.
I empty the box into a Styrofoam or some other type of cooler, place the worms on top of the bedding, checking them the next day and any worms left on the top, I discard, as they are hurt and will kill all of the worms once they start to die.
I put my cooler somewhere where it is cool. I place mine in the corner of our basement, but you don’t want to put them down there and forget about them, it is a good idea to check them regularly as once one dies, they are all going to die.
When I’m ready to go I pull a dozen or so nightcrawlers out of the bedding and throw them into Lil’ Fisherman Worm Tote which is a small Styrofoam cooler that can be opened on both ends, making it easy to find a nightcrawler and not have to dig through the bedding. Nightcrawlers always go to the bottom of whatever you have them in, with the tote, all you need to do is turn it over open it up and there the crawlers are.
When I’m ready to hit the water, I place the Worm Tote in my larger cooler that holds my ice, cold drinks and lunch in my boat and I’m ready to hit the water.
When fishing crawlers, depending on the rig you are using,rigging with a half crawler can be a good option. This is especially true when you are fishing a lake with perch or other panfish as they will nip at the end of a hole crawler and never get to the hook. With a half crawler, you shorten up the bait, bringing it closer to hook. It also adds sent to the bait as it goes through the water. I don’t put the other half in my Worm Tote with the other crawlers as I may not use it and don’t want to mess up the rest of them. I either throw it overboard or drop it in the icy water in the cooler and use it the next time I need a crawler.
The same goes for minnows, there’s no reason to drag around a dead minnow on the end of your line. Replace your minnow often and when you put it in the water if it isn’t moving, replace it.
When it’s hot like it is now, keeping minnows alive can be tough unless you are prepared. In order for baitfish to stay alive, they need oxygenated cool water. You can throw ice into your minnow bucket which will slow down there metabolism until the ice melt and the water begins to warm.
I use a minnow bucket or container that not only will have cold water; they will also aerate the water. An aerated bait bucket such as the Frabill Minn-O-Life bait station ia an insulated bait bucket with an battery operated aerator that will keep your bait alive and kicking. It holds 8-quarts of water with a lift out net that allows you to get to the minnows without using a dip net or sticking your hands in the water. It works well even on the hottest days.
If you want a larger bucket, Frabill has several aerated bait buckets, an 8-quart minnow bucket and a 6-gallon bucket. If you just want to add an aerator to your minnow bucket, Frabill has several battery operated portable aerators that will help you to keep your bait lively.
With dead minnows or worn out crawlers, you still can catch some fish, but if you aren’t fishing for channel catfish, your bait best be fresh and lively bait as it is the key to catching fish.
Author with Jim Klages, Chamberlain, Dakota Prairie Guide Service with a stringer of walleyes he and author Gary Howey caught before a” Cold Front”...