Are Nightcrawlers And Worms Good For Ice Fishing? Here’s What You Need to Know

Nightcrawlers are a popular lure for various fish throughout the summer months. You may wonder, “do nightcrawlers and worms good for ice fishing?”.

The following causes: Nightcrawlers don’t function as well for all species in the winter, and they’re more challenging to get by and maintain alive. On the other hand, Nightcrawlers are among the most successful ice-fishing baits for trout and panfish.

If you’re fishing for trout or panfish, ice fishing with worms is worth a shot, especially if you haven’t had good experiences with other types of bait. This article will answer you in detail.

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Are Nightcrawlers And Worms Good For Ice Fishing?

One of the most popular fishing baits is nightcrawlers. Since they perform efficiently for various species and are widely available in our surroundings and bait stores, Ice fishing with crawlers is still possible, but there are some new regulations.

Fish are lethargic and bite less aggressively in cooler water. The frozen surface alters which foods are natural at this time of year. As a result, certain species, such as walleye, do not seek nightcrawlers in the same way they do in warmer weather. Let’s learn a little about them before we learn how to use them for ice fishing.

Nightcrawlers are an invasive species that originated in Western Europe. As a result, several state DNRs request that you not discard them in wooded areas or toss leftover crawlers in the garbage.

They are a genus of earthworms called Lumbricus. Nightcrawlers range from 4 to 8 inches and are reddish-brown in hue. They feed on the surface of the soil’s living and dead plant material. Nightcrawlers may be seen in gardens, fields, and lawns, and it’s not uncommon to see them on sidewalks or roadways after heavy rain. Their tunnelling into the earth improves soil quality by aerating and watering it. 

They got the name nightcrawler because they typically come out at night. This is because they need to be damp to breathe through their skin, and coming out in the sunshine might dry and suffocate them. Because nightcrawlers and earthworms have cold blood, you must keep them alive when ice fishing.

How To Get Nightcrawlers In Winter?

It is simple to dig them up in your backyard; however, this is not feasible during the winter. So where can you get them in the winter?

Place You Get Nightcrawlers In The Winter

You have two alternatives for getting nightcrawlers during the winter: cultivate them yourself or buy them from a tackle store. Growing your nightcrawlers is a terrific method to ensure a steady supply all year if you’re a trout angler. Because live worms are required to entice fish to bite, they cannot be kept frozen. You must take care of and keep them alive.

Because not every tackle store carries nightcrawlers in the winter, you should phone several shops in your area to find one that does. You’ll almost certainly find several that do, especially if you live in a region with many trout ice fishing.

How To Keep Nightcrawlers Alive?

Nightcrawlers must be alive to entice fish to bite. Thus, if your worms freeze, they become worthless. Keep the worms in a foam box that insulates them against chilly temperatures while going to the lake. Keep the worm jar in your jacket while on the lake to keep them warm.

If you break a nightcrawler into smaller pieces, don’t replace them with the rest of the nightcrawlers. The others are killed by something related to the injured crawler. In addition, when you get home during the day, you may save any leftover crawlers in the fridge for the next day. Just don’t let them get too cold.

How To Ice Fishing With A Nightcrawler?

When fishing with nightcrawlers, keep in mind that they operate best when alive, so use the precautions listed above to protect them from freezing or warming in a small, firmly sealed jar in your coat pocket.

The way you employ nightcrawlers while your target species determine ice fishing. A full nightcrawler with a worm harness is a fantastic method for ice fishing for lake trout.

A worm harness comprises one or two hooks strung together with a leader. Because shiny, flashy materials attract trout, the worm harness frequently includes beads, a spinner blade, etc. Jig your rig 2-3 feet off the bottom in a rhythmic motion to employ the nightcrawler harness.

Another technique is to use a nightcrawler tied on a hook and inflate it with air with a worm blower. Then let it floats above the sinker. Combining jigs tipped with a bit of nightcrawler is effective for many species.

Depending on the species you’re after, adjust the size of your jig. Jig your bait approximately 2 feet above the water’s surface. If it doesn’t work, pound the bottom with your jig before bouncing it roughly a foot off the bottom.

Don’t be too picky with the bait. A bigger nightcrawler may be able to tempt a larger fish.

Can You Go Ice Fishing With Worms?

Ice fishing with worms is always an option. This is due to their effectiveness in catching various fish species, such as trout and crappie. Not only that, but ice worms may be used to catch tiny types of bass fish.

Most anglers do not use earthworms for ice fishing because they are not readily available, not because they are not a good option. Red worms, for example, make excellent live bait for ice fishing. They are, however, not always available throughout the winter season. The red worms can be found near composite materials, but due to winter freeze and snow, they become increasingly difficult to locate and employ for ice fishing. The same is true for nightcrawlers, which become scarce during winter.

Another reason anglers dislike using worms for ice fishing is that they are costly. Worms are scarce throughout the winter months, as some die off due to the freezing temperatures. That is one of the reasons they are pricey and difficult to find throughout the winter months. If worms are your only choice, some of the most popular earthworm species to consider included “butter worms,” “spikes,” “wax worms,” and “mousies.”

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How To Get Worms In The Winter?

Like nightcrawlers, one of the good ways to obtain earthworms during the winter months is to go to a local bait and tackle shop and purchase them. But they are significantly more expensive to buy during this period.

Another alternative is to prepare the earthworms for the winter season by growing them. The only drawback is that it is challenging to implement.

The ideal way is to capture as many earthworms as possible throughout the fall and keep them alive until winter. All you need to do with this procedure is keep the worms in a refrigerator with excellent bedding and feed them appropriately.


As a result, night crawlers aren’t as successful under the ice as in open water. However, they work effectively for crappie, lake trout, and, on occasion, perch.

Even in winter, they are inexpensive and widely accessible in bait shops. They’re simple to maintain alive if you don’t let them freeze, and they retain well when no crawlers are left. With all these advantages, nightcrawlers are an excellent choice for ice fishing.