Are Night Crawlers Good for Ice Fishing ?

Ice fishing is a wholesome experience. People go out in the winter to catch the fresh fish that is not available in the market. It is a sport and an adventure at the same time. You dig holes in the ice, load the bait on the hooks and lure the fish. Game on. At times you win and the rest of the time the fish does. Thus you may wonder what bait to use. Specifically, are night crawlers good for ice fishing?

Yes, you can use night crawlers for ice fishing. They are a great option for catching panfish like trout and crappie. You can get lucky with other fish such as salmon, bluegill, and sunfish. You can either gather night crawlers or get them from the local angling shops. Several ice fishing clubs also harvest night crawlers for their members. A small piece of night crawler in your hook will do wonders to your ice fishing adventure. You will however have to keep them warm and alive till you use them for ice fishing.

The bait is an important aspect of ice fishing. It decides the amount of fish that get attracted to you which is directly proportional to the fish you catch. If you are getting a meager catch or want to increase the amount of fish you catch, this article is for you. We will discuss night crawlers and other bait that you should be using to catch fish in the winters. Keep reading.

Night crawlers and ice fishing

Night crawlers are earthworms that surface during the night. Earthworms are terrestrial invertebrates – organisms without a spine. They crawl on the earth’s surface and are found anywhere. They consume bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and other micro-organisms. An earthworm’s digestive system runs along its entire body. It respires along the length of its body – through its skin. Earthworms have a dual nervous system – a central nervous system and a peripheral nervous system.

You can easily cut an earthworm into multiple pieces. They take some time to die. A small piece of earthworm in the hook of your ice fishing rod is enough to attract a fish. Some fish that love night crawlers are:


They are the number one fish to be attracted to night crawlers. If you are a trout angler, you should use night crawlers to your advantage.


They love night crawlers. A small piece of bait will entice them more than a bigger piece. A fresh piece of night crawler on the hook and it’s match on.

Yellow Perch

Perches have a small mouth and they are unlikely to go for big-sized baits. So if you are targeting yellow perch, go for small worms in your bait.


They get attracted to smell. So with a fresh, fat piece of night crawler and a little bit of luck, you can get enough catfish for the weekend.


You can get occasional bites from the crappies. They are aggressive fish and like a variety of bait.

How to get night crawlers for ice fishing ?

Now that you know night crawlers are invaluable bait for ice fishing, the question will be how to get them. Night crawlers are found in soil. If you live in a cold region, the soil may be covered with snow. In such cases, it is difficult to catch night crawlers. Your other option is to buy them locally. Or some online sellers will deliver live night crawlers to you for a fee.

If you live in a warm area where the snow does not cover the soil during the winters, you can gather ice worms. Just leave a moist piece of cardboard over well-tilled soil overnight. You will find several earthworms underneath it in the morning. Flowerbeds or farmlands are the best places to do this. Collect them and put them in a jar.

You will need to keep your earthworms from dying out of low temperatures. While you are out ice fishing, keep them in a thermacol box. Or keep them in a pouch inside your jacket pocket. If you want to use the remaining night crawlers for the next day or next week, keep them in a jar. Remember to make small holes in the jar lid. Also, remember to feed them with organic waste once in a while. And yes, isolate the decaying or dead ones from the live and healthy ones.

Other earthworms that can be used for ice fishing

Night crawlers are not the only option as ice fishing bait. You can use several other worms for catching fish while on an ice fishing expedition. Some of them are:

Wax worms

They are wax moths in the worm stage. Use wax worms in groups of four to six as bait. They attract sunfish, bluegill, crappie, trout, and yellow perch. They are available at the local bait shops.


They are one of the most common worms for fishing bait. They are darkling beetles in the worm stage. They should be kept in damp and dark containers. They are one of the best bait when used alive. They attract bluegill, crappie, or trout.

Fish that don’t go for worms

There are a few fish that you won’t catch with worms. Some of them are pikes, bass, muskies, and pickerel. These fish have different appetites. If you are targeting these fish, you will need to use bait fish. Some of the popular bait fish are shad, suckers, alewives, minnows, and shiners. At the same time, check the local ice fishing regulations before you use other fish as bait.

To Conclude


Night crawlers are a great choice as ice fishing bait. If you want pan fish for your dinner table, you will do well to use them as your bait. They are an inexpensive option and fish just go for them. We hope that you have gained enough pointers for night crawlers as bait for your next ice fishing adventure. Do let us know how it went. Please also read our other articles on ice fishing to further your knowledge.

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