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Golf and Worms

Golf and Worms Golf and Worms
By Dave Adams

Worms can be a distraction to a golf game. But an added bonus to the angler. The 5-iron shot off of the rain-saturated 18th fairway was nice, good sound, solid contact, and 20 feet from the pin, a sure birdie. Until the unmistakable sound of worms, thousands of them, all trying to escape the vibration of my shot, reminded me of one thing: before the ground freezes, I should catch enough nightcrawlers to last the winter.

The occasional warm rains or snow melts of November and early December offer the last chance to harvest nightcrawlers for the ice fishing season; or if we have a warm winter, bait for the rivers, streams and lakes.

Nightcrawlers get their name from the fact that they come to the surface at night. Since worms breathe through their skins, nightcrawlers will come to the surface when water fills their tunnels.

Finding them is not hard because most lawns have a large population of nightcrawlers. Catching nightcrawlers and keeping them alive also is not difficult. The best time to collect them is after dark when the ground is saturated. A word of advice, though, please let your neighbor know if you will be prowling in their backyard with a flashlight.

Nightcrawlers are sensitive to light. A flashlight works well, but a headlamp is even better because it leaves your hands free for picking. Bright white light drives nightcrawlers underground. Cover the lens of your flashlight with red cellophane or use a dim light. Walk softly because worms are sensitive to vibration and will retreat if disturbed. When you see a nightcrawler, quickly grasp it by the head (the thicker end) with your fingers. Don’t jerk the worm from the ground, use a firm, slow, steady pull. If the worm tries to shoot back into the hole, hold onto one end until the worm releases tension and is free of the hole.

A storage box is needed to keep nightcrawlers for an extended period of time. 500 nightcrawlers will survive quite well in a homemade 2' x 3' x 2' wooden box. For bedding, fill the box with soil or damp shredded newspaper. Commercial worm bedding, such as Buss Bed-Ding, slightly dampened, makes a good soil substitute. A cover (vented) of some type is needed, and a screen will keep out undesirable flying pests.

If you do use soil or newspaper, remember that moist and not wet is the key. After a couple of weeks the food value of all bedding will be diminished and a worm food must be added. Commercial brands are available at most bait and tackle or sporting goods stores.

A cool storage area will allow you to keep your worms for an extended period. The basement will work, as well as the garage, provided that it does not drop below freezing.

At an average of one dollar a dozen - or more, depending on commercial sources - the monetary value of gathering your own bait is evident. Plus, many anglers will find that size and quality of nightcrawlers varies greatly from one month to the next. When you gather your own bait, neither factor is a worry.

If it's too cold to golf, go fishing. When you do, take nightcrawlers. Because there is no fish so proud that it won't give in to the wriggling temptation of a sultry nightcrawler. Incidentally, on perhaps my last golf outing of the year, I three-putted the18th for a bogey.

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Jackie McMan | Posted: March 24, 2003

I had to convince my colleagues that you could "hear" nightcrawlers when they are going for cover. Thanks so much!!!