How To Keep Nightcrawlers

The whole idea of using live bait for fishing is to attract a fish with a wiggling live worm that is fresh and attractive as a food source for any fish you are chasing. Keeping Nightcrawlers fresh is key for successful fishing so the storage and how you treat the worms will determine their health for a period of time. What is the best way to keep Nightcrawlers?

  • Store Nightcrawlers in a styrofoam or Tupperware container with a lid
  • Add newspaper, grass,& weed clippings
  • Use layers of dirt above that for a bed
  • Keep bedding moist & cool
  • Locate in a dark place
  • Feed Nightcrawlers commercial food-used coffee ground & kitchen scraps
  • Keep in temperatures at 58 to 68°F

Buying live bait like Nightcrawlers from the convenience store or at the Tackle shop can get expensive especially if you do a lot of fishing. Why not save your worms and keep them for another day or maybe for another season and keep them fresh and multiplying that can save you time and money. There are many methods that you can use to get Nightcrawlers out of your own backyard.

How to Keep Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers sense light and vibration but if you need nightcrawlers and the Bait shop is closed and ‘gone fishin’ or you can’t pay for them just do what every kid in America has done for  many years:

  • Wait for the Sun to go down
  • Hose down the front yard
  • Use a flashlight to spot them
  • When you see them don’t hold the light directly on the worm or the worm will take off back into the hole he came out of.
  • Brush the light over them to see his hole’s location
  • Before he gets down the hole again grab him
  • If you vertically pull it out of the hole the worm might break apart
  • Pull the Nightcrawler out of his hole slightly horizontally and you will be able to capture him with less trouble

Nightcrawlers and Worm-Keeping Bedding

Nightcrawlers and Earthworms are similar in storing them. Hold them in a plastic bag, styrofoam, or for the best method a Tupperware container with a lid and keep them at cool temperatures. Make bedding of strips of cardboard, paper, or grass and weed clippings. Add layers of fresh dirt where you found the worms.

Close the container to retain moisture and place your worms in a dark area. Check on your stored worms every few days to make sure their bedding is moist. If needed, sprinkle or spray some water into the container to hydrate the worm bedding.

To make bedding simply use the soil that the worms were living in for the container. Keep the soil lightly moist and change the soil when you add more worms. Earthworms will stay healthy for a few weeks but after that, you need to feed them.

Nightcrawlers will stay healthy longer up to a few months if they receive consistently cool temperatures in your fridge or cooler that will slow down the metabolism and after a couple of weeks, they also need to start a healthy diet.

Use a different container to bring the worms fishing with you. Once the sun hits the worm container it’s best if those worms are disposed of so get rid of the ones you take fishing with you. Take only what you need for the day from the cooled container. If you keep worms in a bigger box or container outside make small holes on the bottom for water drainage and make sure the box is well insulated for controlling hot and cold temperatures.

Check every couple of days for the health of your Nightcrawler and if you find dead worms on top of the substrate pick them out of the container removing them immediately. Nightcrawlers give off a gas when they die that is toxic to the other worms.  Nightcrawlers should be burrowing themselves up and down through the bedding. Check for any puddling of water you want an evenly moist content for the worms to live in

Best Worm Box Temperature to Keep Nightcrawlers

Worms will die quickly at room temperature, but keeping your refrigerator in its coldest setting will extend its lifespan to over six months. In order to keep your worms cool, put the tub in a plastic bag or other container before putting them inside the refrigerator.

Bins should be stored in a warm (65 – 90 degrees for Night Crawlers) and (40 – 80 degrees for red worms), dark, and dry space. Outdoor bins can be kept in sheds and garages, on patios and balconies, or in the yard. They should be kept out of hot sun and heavy rain.

Nightcrawlers cannot live in extreme wet, hot, or cold temperatures. They thrive best in moist soil bedding in a worm box that’s around 68 degrees °F. and can live 5-6 years in the wild. Most refrigerators run too cold for Nightcrawlers,  they run anywhere between 35-42°F  degrees so that would be a bit too cold to keep them.

If you want to save them for longer periods of time, Nightcrawlers should be kept in a worm box in cool temperatures between 58°F – 68 °F.  They’ll stay alive and healthy for some time till you use them again. Mark your containers and rotate from the oldest to keep them the freshest worms for your fishing experience.

What to Feed Nightcrawlers

If you decide to keep your worms longer than a few weeks you should feed them. Most worms like to live in composted old grass and weed clippings but an easy food source for you to feed them is coffee grounds that they have a liking for.

Add a few tablespoons and shake the grounds inside the container this will also aerate the soil in the container keeping the soil loose and the moisture from puddling inside creating a healthy environment for the worms to live in.

Worms can eat half their weight in one day. Provide the worms with enough food to last them a few days. Double the combined weight of the worms, and place that amount of food in the worm box. That will last them about a week.

You can buy powdered worm food from a Bait Supply store or make your own worm food by blending fruit, veggie scraps, or eggshells.  To feed the worms, Commercially powdered worm food, sprinkle a light layer of the worm food over the top layer of the worm container. Wait until all of the food has been eaten before feeding them again. You can also feed Nightcrawlers a mixture of ground corn, cornmeal, and oats.

Nightcrawlers are decomposers. They eat other invertebrates, decaying plant matter, and fungi. These types of organisms break down food into its constituent parts so that it can be absorbed by whatever eats them next in the food chain.

Just like our friendly neighborhood earthworm, nightcrawlers enjoy a wide variety of decomposing organic matter. the average night crawler diet consists of:

  • Decomposing veggies
  • Decomposing fruit
  • Decomposing plant matter
  • Fungi
  • Other microorganisms
  • Lard & Cornmeal

The typical diet for nightcrawlers in captivity consists of pig and chicken mash mixed with shortening or lard. You can also add cornmeal to that mixture. Generally, though, for home worm keepers that aren’t on an industrial scale, it’s not a wise idea to give meats to your worms.

In large-scale operations, you can assume all the meat will get eaten before it has a chance to decay and poison the soil. There is no guarantee for this at home. So, if you are just intending to feed nightcrawlers at home for fishing, consider a simple diet of moldy bread, fruit, and veggie skins. The food you give your crawler should be nice and moist, so the worm can eat and digest it.

This will take a little trial and error based on your nightcrawler’s size, species, weight, and the amount you have in the container. Add small amounts of the foods mentioned above slowly at first.

If they don’t eat it all within 2 days, Lower the amount you feed them. If they consumed it all before or in 2 days, Add more. Keep doing this until you find the correct amount of food for your particular nightcrawlers.

Keep in mind that if you are breeding your crawlers, as the population increases so will the foot consumption, so adjust accordingly! Worms eat more during the warmer summer months. If the area you keep your worms in is not climate-controlled, don’t be surprised if they start eating less food during the colder months of the year.

What is the Best Way to Catch Nightcrawlers for Fishing?

Catch at night in cool temp.
During a rain shower or try to simulate a rain shower
Avoid high grass
Use a flashlight with a red lens at the nightcrawler’s hole
Keep them cool-store in the fridge
Don’t overfill the container
Best Method to Use:

Dish Detergent Method
Worm Grunt Method
Worm Tazer Method
Walnut Tea Method ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Read more

How to Fatten Up Worms For Fishing

If you are keeping a larger amount of worms you can fatten them up with DIY worm food that will increase the size of the worm by feeding them a better diet. Worms don’t have teeth or stomach acid so any waste you put in with worms for food can’t be used until it starts to decompose. Worms won’t eat until the bacteria break down the waste you add to their environment. The smaller the food source the easier it is for this process to happen.

Keep some old shredded newspaper or cardboard in a dark area. Then wet it down and the moisture will activate the process for the bacteria to break down any food that you add into the compost mixture giving the worms a more significant, better diet. Dark and moist environments are best for this.

Smaller bits of food are easier for worms to eat and digest than chunks. So chop it up or use a blender to garbage waste from your kitchen into a thicker drier food source.

Kitchen scraps like banana peels and bread in the box will produce bigger Nightcrawlers and create worm castings from the worms that are high in nutrients which is good for them if you want to keep more worms for breeding purposes, The Worms can also make great composting for your garden called Vermicompost.

By following these steps, you can successfully fatten up worms for fishing, ensuring they are in prime condition to attract bites from fish.

More importantly, if you use these tips you’ll raise and show nightcrawlers that are  bigger, healthier, and longer-living Worms to be used on the end of a fishing hook.

What Do You Feed Nightcrawlers?

What Wild Nightcrawlers eat:

Microorganisms & dead insects in the soil
Decaying Fruits and vegetables
Leaves, grass, flowers & other decaying plant matter
Fungi & Algae

What Nightcrawlwers in captivity eat:

Fruit and vegetable scraps
Dry garden leaves
Tea bags, coffee grounds & Moldy bread ..………………………………………………………………………………….. Read more

JimGalloway Author/Editor


That’s Fishing- Best Way To Keep Nightcrawlers Alive


To fatten up worms for fishing, follow these steps:

  1. Select healthy worms: Start with lively and healthy worms, preferably nightcrawlers or red wigglers, as they are larger and more robust.
  2. Provide a nutrient-rich diet: Feed the worms a diet rich in organic matter such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and moistened grain-based foods like oatmeal or cornmeal. These foods will provide essential nutrients and help plump up the worms.
  3. Avoid overfeeding: While it’s important to provide a nutritious diet, avoid overfeeding the worms, as this can lead to uneaten food rotting in the bedding and foul odors. Offer food in moderation, and only add more once the previous feeding has been consumed.
  4. Keep the bedding moist: Ensure the bedding material (e.g., shredded newspaper, peat moss) remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Adequate moisture is essential for the worms’ digestion and overall health.
  5. Store in optimal conditions: Keep the worm container in a cool, dark place with temperatures between 55°F to 77°F (13°C to 25°C). Avoid exposing the worms to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, as this can stress or even kill them.
  6. Regularly clean the bedding: Periodically remove uneaten food, debris, and excess moisture from the bedding to maintain a healthy environment for the worms.
  7. Harvest just before fishing: Ideally, harvest the fattened worms shortly before you plan to use them for fishing. This ensures they are at their freshest and most lively state, making them more attractive to fish.

Recent Posts