How to catch Night Crawlers (Fishing Worms)

w1Night Crawler (worm)

Collective Commons Photo

Worms have always been popular bait. Night Crawlers have always been a preferred bait for bobber, hook and line fishing. Before all the fancy artificial store bought baits, there was always been the worm.

One fun and free way of getting fishing bait, without going to the bait store and buying it, is by going hunting for Night Crawlers.

Night Crawlers are large worms that live deep in the earth during the day and come to the surface after heavy rain storms and at night. Hunting night crawlers can be fun for the whole family and keep you in bait. Kids love catching them almost as much as fishing.

Things You'll Need:

· Flashlight

· plastic coffee "can" with a lid, styrofoam cup with lid or worm box

· moist grass, shredded newspaper or dirt

w2Night Crawler coming out of the ground

Night Crawlers are large earthworms known for coming to the surface of your yard at night and after heavy rains. They are great for bobber, hook and line fishing. You can catch them by hand if you are patient by finding them with a flashlight and grabbing them and putting them in a container. If you do have a lawn that has not been treated with pesticides or weed killers, you probably have lots of night crawlers to catch. You can also search for them in your vegetable garden, playgrounds, parks and mowed fields.

In dry weather, watering your yard just before dark helps in hunting for night crawlers. Rain or watering forces the worms to the top surface of your lawn so they can breath.

w3 earthworm coming out of its hole, graphic by Charles Buchanan

Step 1: Getting Started

To catch a Night Crawler you need a hand held flashlight and a container for keeping the worms in. Turn off the exterior lights to your yard before it gets dark. Hunting after a rainstorm, heavy dew or watering your yard prior to hunting helps bring the worms to the surface. Worms also come out at night to mate.

Now take the flashlight in your left hand (if right handed) and walk bending over. Shine the light into the grass. Walk slowly, stopping and looking for night crawlers all or part way out of their holes. Try to be quiet, the worms are blind but they pick up on vibrations and noise.

Step 3: Grabbing a night crawler.

Once you spot a Night Crawler, you want to grab the worm with your thumb and forefinger where the worm is coming out of the ground. This gives you the best chance of catching the worm before it can slide back in the hole. Once you have a good hold on it, pull evenly and slowly to get the worm out of the hole. If you pull too hard, you will tear the worm in half (still alive and useable for bait). If you let go, the worm will disappear down the hole and be gone (for that night anyway).

Continue working up and down the yard, going quietly and slowly. Many of the worms will go in their holes as soon as you shine a light on them, so you must be quick to grab them. You will get better with practice. It is easier and more fun if you have two people hunting night crawlers. Having one person hold the container and the other catch the worms, then switch. Catching a dozen or so worms should be about right for bobber, hook and line fishing.

This is a lot of fun for kids and a great activity for the fishermen in the family to do together.

Step 4: Keeping Night Crawlers alive.

Night crawlers can be kept in a plastic coffee "can", Styrofoam drink cup with a lid, or a worm box. Make certain they are covered, if not they will escape. The container should be filled with damp grass, peat moss or loose dirt (potting soil works). They must be kept damp and cool. Too wet and they drown. Too dry or hot and they shrivel up and die.

Night crawlers can be kept alive in a covered Styrofoam cup in your refrigerator for about a week.

Worm5 Methods for baiting a hook

Step 5: Use them for fishing.

The illustration shows three methods for putting a Night Crawler on a hook. The first two methods are suitable for trolling or casting. The second and third methods are generally used for still fishing using a bobber or bottom fishing with a weight and no bobber.

Any Night Crawlers left alive after fishing can be kept for the next day of fishing or released into your yard, garden or river bank.

Good luck hunting for Night Crawlers and catch lots of fish!


  • Water your lawn in the evening before hunting.

  • Turn off your porch lights 30 minutes prior to hunting.

  • Pull slowly and steady to pull worms from theit hole .

  • Keep night crawlers cool and damp.
  • Store in a cool place or in a styrofoam cover cup in you refrigerator.

  • keep covered or night crawlers will escape from their container