Fishing With Canadian Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers are a great all-around bait to catch a variety of species. Here are the seven simple steps to ensure you’ll have a successful day fishing.

By Candace Henderson
Fish Ambassador

No matter where you live or what body of freshwater you are fishing in, there is one surefire bait that is almost guaranteed to land you a multitude of species, and it’s known as the Canadian nightcrawler. This is my go-to on any lake or river, whether I’m fishing from the shore, a kayak or a boat. Here are seven simple steps and tips for success when fishing with the most effective bait on the planet.


Know Your Nightcrawlers

Canadian nightcrawlers differ in several ways from the redworms or “wigglers” that are most commonly sold at bait shops. The most noticeable difference is their size. They are much larger than their cousin, the redworm.

Nightcrawlers don’t fare well in the heat, so keeping them cool is imperative. They are often sold out of a refrigerated case or in foam containers that provide more insulation.


Pick The Right Hook

Because nightcrawlers are much larger than other earthworms on the market, you’re going to want to make sure you have a hook that fits. Aberdeen, octopus and other live-bait hooks will do the trick.

Personally, I recommend a No. 4 Eagle Claw bronze baitholder hook. It has small barbs on the shaft that will keep your bait in place better than regular hooks, and the size will provide a good hook set on virtually any species of fish.


How To Bait Your Hook

Baiting a hook with a worm may seem very rudimentary to some anglers, but decades of fishing and likely thousands of fish have taught me that how you bait your hook matters! The most common way to bait a worm is by threading the hook through the worm multiple times so the worm sits securely wrapped around the hook, and this works for the most part — primarily for catfish and bluegill. If you want to dramatically increase your chances for a bite, and for catching additional species, insert the hook into the nose of your bait and exit about an inch or two down. This is very similar to a weightless Texas rig, only the hook will protrude from the bait rather than turn back into it. Now you have a bait that is much more appealing to a considerably broader variety of fish, including perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, all species of trout, bullheads, catfish, bowfin, rock bass, shellcrackers, bluegill and more.


Fishing With A Bobber

Fishing with a bobber is one of the most popular methods and probably one of the easiest (next to fishing on the bottom). It allows you to suspend your bait at a depth of your choice under the water’s surface. It’s good for fishing in small ponds, lakes or river pockets without current.

Simply clasp a bobber to your line a few feet above your hook. Most bobbers have a button at the top that you can press to expose a metal hook on the opposite end. Wrap your line around this hook, then let go of the button. To expose the hook that’s inside the button, press the edge of the button down while holding the bottom hook in. Add a small split shot about halfway between your bobber and your hook.

Now all you have to do is cast and wait. You’ll know you have a fish when your bobber starts to bob or gets pulled under the water completely.


Fishing On The Bottom

This works well in any body of water. Pin a couple of weights (split shots) a foot or two up the line for better casting distance and to keep your line stationary in areas with current. Cast your line where you think that big guy might be hiding and then all you have to do is wait. This technique is highly effective for catfish.



This is by far my favorite method. It’s more engaging than fishing on the bottom but doesn’t work everywhere. It performs well for sight fishing or fishing around structure or ledges in rivers, ponds or lakes. Do not add a weight when doing this (unless you are fishing in current, in which case you can add a small split shot and still be effective). Cast to your desired area and let your bait slowly drift to the bottom or downstream. Reel in and repeat. You don’t need to let it sit out long as fish will normally bite as the bait is descending to the bottom or floating through feeding areas. I have a special appreciation for this method as it has landed me many trout, bass and bluegill over the years.


What To Do With Leftover Crawlers

Nightcrawlers make great additions to gardens or compost. Instead of dumping the rest of that cup in the water or throwing it away, bring it home and add them to your gardens or flower beds.

They will also survive in a refrigerator for weeks (possibly months), so you can keep them on hand until your next fishing trip.

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