Crickets are the bait of choice for Bluegills. Nothing gets old Mr. Gill motivated like a live cricket. But for Redears and Rios a Red Wiggler (Eisenia Foetida) is a must. The Red Wiggler is the "Cadillac of Worms". That phrase was a household word in 1978 when the popular TV series WKRP in Cincinnati starring Loni Anderson was aired.
Long before Loni was a gleam in her father’s eye ads appeared in the back of popular magazines promising to make you rich selling Red Wigglers for fish bait. For a nominal sum the advertiser would sell you a kit consisting of a quantity of breeding stock and a bag of media. Some offered to buy back the worms you raised. Obviously the ads were a scam. The worms proved to be difficult to raise and were never good enough to be bought back.
The scam continues. Ads on Amazon.com and individual web pages sell the red wiggler to help you generate garden compost that will perform miracles of plant growth. That much is absolutely true. But the scam comes in when you open the bag of red wiggler breeding stock which is supposed to contain 1000 healthy worms. The first bag I bought might have had fifty worms, but no more. When I complained I got another bag that might have had a few more. I was greatly amused when one young woman counted her worms. She found that her bag of 1000 worms contained 306 and the vendor refused to replace them.
The little boxes of red wigglers sold in the bait stores, Walmart or Pet Smart for $3.95 contain 30 worms. That is $0.13 per worm.
Obviously if the worm farms cheat and the bait stores are expensive, the solution is to grow your own. Although not nearly as easy as it sounds it can be done.
The first requirement is a container. The container does not have to be deep and a cat litter box bottom makes a good worm house. I have A Walmart storage box that I used because we had them. The worm lives about 2 inches below the surface so the container does not have to be that deep. Put the container in a place that does not get too hot or too cold. Mine is in the basement. Dad used to have an old #2 washtub in the shed behind the house in Lubbock. He raised a lot of worms but a cold winter would kill them.
First one must manufacture the worm media. Put about 4 inches of potting soil in the bottom of the container. Use the kind that does not have fertilizer or insecticide added. On top of the soil put about 4 inches of shredded paper from your document shredder. Wet down the paper and soil, then let the media dry until it is moist but not wet before adding worms. Maintaining the proper moisture will be your biggest headache in raising the worms. Too wet and the worms will drown. Too dry and they will die.
When you get your worms place them on top of the media in a darkened room. They will immediately burrow into the media.
You can feed your worms kitchen scraps like potato peels and such. A cup of corn meal sprinkled on top of the media is good. The worms will eat whatever you provide and also the shredded paper. One TFF forum member reports excellent results with dried cow paddies. He harvests them when completely dry in the winter and stores them away from ants and other varmints. The worm gurus say the worms will eat almost anything that is not contaminated with chemicals. If you have a water softener use bottled water. The salt will kill the worms.
When it comes to buying your breeding worms you are on your own. I can tell you that one guy who advertises on Amazon.com will give you short count. Some of the TFF members have reported good service from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. I have not bought from him. He will sell you a bag containing 1000 worms for $17.95 plus $10.95 shipping or a complete starter kit for $54.95 plus $15.95 shipping. If you buy through Amazon the prices are almost double. Obviously building your own kit is much cheaper.
Remember to check the media often and keep it moist. Give the worms a couple of months start and you should have all you need. Thread him on a #8 Gold Aberdeen hook and fish him near the bottom. Redears, Rios and Bluegills and other sunfish will not be able to resist the Cadillac of worms.
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