How to Fatten Up Redworms for Fishing

Recipes for Feeding Red Wigglers as Bait

redworms as fishing bait
Rivers and streams are the best places to use redworms as fishing bait. Jacob Levine

If you have a worm bin set up to produce worm castings for your garden, the fishermen/women in your family can take advantage of the redworms, as well. The same worms that are utilized in your vermicompost system can also be fattened up to use as fishing bait.

For many people, it's the night crawlers that first come to mind when it comes to fishing worms, but redworms are just as useful for the angler -- perhaps even more so given their smaller size. Nightcrawlers (earthworms) die very quickly once they're put on a hook and tossed into the water. Redworms, however, are capable of remaining alive for several hours (or longer) and continue to wiggle temptingly on the hook.

Where to Use Redworms

The best places to use redworms as bait are in rivers and streams as trout, walleye, bluegill, perch, and bass find them irresistible. Composting redworms can grow to 1 1/2 to 3  inches long, and it's easy to encourage them to grow bigger by offering the right foods to fatten them up. Feeding them cornmeal daily will start putting weight on them immediately.

It'll take several days to a week or more for your fishing worms to fatten up, so focus on a bunch that are earmarked for next week's fishing expedition and power feed them with a worm fattener recipe. The first recipe below is from The Worm Factory ® and the second is a more common recipe.

The idea is to get the worms to eat the fattener as quickly as possible. Tossing the ingredients of a fattener recipe into a blender will break down everything as much as possible for the worms. 

Worm Fattener Recipe #1

  • 5 parts chicken layer mash
  • 2 parts wheat or rice bran
  • 1 part agricultural lime
  • 1 part wheat flour
  • 1 part powdered milk

Worm Fattener Recipe #2

  • 1 part corn meal
  • 1 part wheat flour
  • 1 part ground up oatmeal

Unless you're selling redworms as a business, after a year or so of raising them you may find that you're producing even more than you need for fishing and your vermicomposting bins. Don't forget that many creatures will enjoy worms including your chickens, pond fish, and wildlife.