"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Garden Worms As Fish Bait
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

Most anglers place natural fish baits somewhere down the list of favored fishing tactics. But if natural baits--say garden worms--are allowed to do their thing, this most natural of all naturals will pay big dividends.

Any natural bait will produce good results if fished at a time when a particular bait is easiest to get, which translates into garden worms at this time of year when the earth of garden plots is being prepared for the growing season.

I prefer garden worms to night crawlers at this time of year because they are small enough to be fished whole, rather than in pieces. And my favorite method of fishing garden worms is the most simple of all methods--I just hook them in the middle with a small wire hook and let them drift around cover (or even in deep water) with as little weight as possible.

Fishing garden worms with nothing more than a small wire hook has its problems, starting with the fact that this terminal rig is not heavy enough to cast well, even with light spinning line. But a pendulum cast with fly rod or longer pole will make it possible to put the bait where it should be without great effort.

Still another method of presenting light baits to fish at distant points is the casting bobber (see March 27, 2006, column on www.bayoubill.com). But any bobber that is heavy enough to cast can be used to drift worms naturally. Regardless of the type of bobber used, for drifting garden worms, I like four to five feet of light line between hook and bobber. If my bait is not sinking as fast as I like, I use very thin, and light wrap-on lead sinkers I make by pounding lead rifle bullets with a hammer and cutting the leads in thin strips that bend easily.

A fly rod rigged with closed face, push-button reel loaded with four-pound-test line is a good for fishing natural baits, but a cane pole rigged with a tip guide and loose, running line is good for placing baits around cover from a good distance.

Many years ago, while getting skunked with artificial lures during the bright part of a hot day on the Muscatatuck River, I watched an elderly angler fishing live minnows in this manner with great success.

He used a cane pole with tip guide and loose line to place live minnows (without a bobber) very close to, or under, natural cover by holding the pole with one hand and regulating the amount of line beyond the tip guide with the other hand.

He slowly waded the river with floater minnow bucket attached to his belt with a strong cord while fishing live minnows very close, or under, good cover. At times he had less than a foot of line beyond the tip of the pole.

Generally, the long-pole rig is more accurate than a bobber rig when it is desirable to get the bait very close to, or under, cover. When fishing goggle eyes in the spring on the Indiana’s southern Blue River, Dick Lambert, of Fredericksburg, places an ice-fishing bobber five or six inches above his hook to fish tiny opening in floating driftwood, or around inundated rocks, undercut, banks and root wads of streamside trees.

Garden worms are not often found at bait shops, but with gardening hitting a high pitch now, these fish-catchers are easy to dig, incidental to the digging. Garden worms, like night crawlers, can be kept happy and healthy for long periods of time in a culture of rotting leaves and earth stored in a cool, dark place with a bit of dampness, but not wet. Worms tend to die in a wet culture. 

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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