Irrespective of who you are, be it a veteran angler or a beginner, one thing is sure when it comes to ice fishing, and that is – you’ll need baits or lures to land fish.
Interestingly, unlike in the past, there are now more baits and lures for ice fishing. Recently, we came across a few questions on the internet regarding the best substance to attract and catch fish during ice fishing. One of the questions says – are worms great live bait for ice fishing?
Worms aren’t the best bait options for ice fishing. However, you can utilize them, as they are pretty much adequate for landing crappie, yellow perch, walleye, bluegill, trout, whitefish, and a few other species. The four most common worms for ice fishing include butter worms, spikes, mousies, and waxworms.
When choosing baits for ice fishing, you can always consider using worms. However, you need to understand that there are many excellent bait and lure options that you can utilize instead of worms.
Are you interested in choosing suitable live bait for ice fishing? If yes, the rest of this post will serve as a guide for you. It covers everything you need to know about ice fishing baits, including how to make use of worms.
Can You Use Worms For Ice Fishing?
As earlier mentioned, you can always use worms for ice fishing. That’s so because they are effective for landing different fish species, such as trout and crappie. That’s not all; you can even use ice worms to catch small species of bass fish.
However, you need to understand that only a few worms are great for ice fishing.
Why most anglers don’t like using worms
Most anglers don’t use earthworms for ice fishing, not because they aren’t a good option but because they aren’t readily available. For instance, red worms can serve as excellent live bait for ice fishing. However, they are not always available in the winter season.
You can undoubtedly find the red worms around composite materials, but because of winter frost and snow, they become pretty much difficult to find and use for ice fishing. The same thing applies to nightcrawlers; they usually become scarce during the winter seasons.
Another reason anglers don’t like using worms for ice fishing is that they become expensive to purchase. As earlier mentioned, worms are hard to come by during winter – some die off due to the cold temperatures.
Others, such as nightcrawlers, to survive the harsh weather condition, often burrow down below the frost line wherever they live. That’s one of the reasons why they are expensive and not readily available during the winter seasons.
Best worms for ice fishing
If using worms is the only option you have, some of the most common earthworm species you can consider using are “wax worms,” “spikes,” “mousies,” and “butter worms.” However, you’ll need to spend a few bucks on them, as they aren’t readily available for pick.
How to get worms during the winter season
As earlier stated, one of the best options for getting earthworms during the winter months is by visiting a local bait and tackle shop to purchase them. However, you need to understand that they are slightly expensive to buy during this period.
Another option is to consider growing the earthworms and preparing them for the winter season. Although this approach is practical, the only problem is that it’s not easy to carry out.
The best approach is to catch as many earthworms as you want during fall and keep them active and alive until winter. For this method, all you need is to store the worms in a refrigerator with quality bedding, providing them with the food at the right time.
Here are some of the fish you can land from ice fishing with earthworms
Depending on when, where, and how you’re fishing, you can always use worms to land various fish species. For ice fishing, you can utilize worms, such as wax worms, nightcrawlers, and spikes, to catch yellow perch, walleye, bluegill, trout, whitefish, and even small bass fish species.
Trout, freshwater fish species belonging to the salmon family, are the easiest to land with worms during ice fishing. One of the things you need to do is attach the earthworm to your bait hook; after that, you’ll have to add weight to the line. Next, jig your bait slowly through the ice hole until it attracts the fish species.
Unlike trout, crappies only tend to feed on worms during aggressive bites. That’s so because earthworms aren’t their number one food source. The best live bait for landing crappies from ice fishing is minnows.
You can also land catfish during ice fishing by using worms. However, they are not as effective as using live bait with scents. For the best results, we’ll advise that you apply liquid perfumes to the earthworms before attaching them to the bait hook.
Another type of fish that you can target using earthworms during ice fishing is walleye. To land the fish species quickly, you need to use the most active worms, such as nightcrawlers.
How To Hook A Worm For Ice Fishing
Before attaching your earthworm to the bait hook, there are a few things that you need to put in mind. One of them is you need to try as much as possible to keep the worm lively. While threading the bait to the hook, also ensure that it looks natural and attractive.
Furthermore, there are several different ways to hook your worm for ice fishing. For instance, if you’re using wax worms, the way you’ll thread the bait on the hook has a lot to do with the type of jigs you’re utilizing.
For horizontal jigs, one of the best approaches is to pass the hook via the bottom of the worm, threading it up through its body. If you have a long bait, we’ll advise that you leave a little bit of tail off the hook. Doing that will help to keep the worm looking attractive and natural.
Furthermore, if you’re using a vertical jig, the best technique to use is the threaded method. It involves threading the bait up in a zigzag direction through its body.
Treble hooks are fishhooks that pack three different hooks, with a single shank. The combination of small treble hooks and bait-like wax worms is good for landing trout. If you’re using the hook, the best approach is to thread a single worm crossways. However, ensure that the threaded worm catches at least two of the fishing hook’s barbs.
Alternatively, you can thread the worms on each of the barbs of your treble hook. Doing that will allow the baits to move quickly and freely when jigging the spoon back and forth.
Are Mealworms suitable for ice fishing?
Earlier in the post, we mentioned that a few earthworms, including wax worms, and butter worms, are excellent for ice fishing. If that’s the case, here’s a burning question, can you also use mealworms for ice fishing?
Mealworms aren’t the best of earthworms for ice fishing. However, you need to know that they are effective in their little way of landing your targets from ice.
Mealworms are different from wax worms. Unlike the latter, which are the larvae of wax moths, the former are the larvae of beetles. Interestingly, you can utilize both live and dried mealworms to land various fish species via ice fishing.
No doubt, almost all fish species will eat mealworms. However, the most common type of fish that you’ll likely land using mealworms include the following:
- Small bass fish species
Unlike other worms, mealworms are pretty much smaller. Since that’s the case, the method you’ll employ to thread them to the bait hook is slightly different from those mentioned above.
Furthermore, small bait hooks are the best if you’re considering using small mealworms for ice fishing. For large mealworms (above 1/3-inch long), we’ll advise you cut them in half before attaching them to the hook.
After cutting, what is next is to thread the mealworm on the bait hook. To do that, you need to pass the hook through the center of the bait’s (mealworm) body.
However, while doing that, you’ll need to be careful, and ensure that the bait stays on the hook during fishing. For better results, keep the barb firmly fixed and ensure that the worm’s body touches the bend on the back of the hook.
What Are The Best Baits For Ice Fishing?
When choosing live bait for ice fishing, there are a few options for you. As previously mentioned, one of the live baits you can trust to deliver is worms. Apart from worms, you can also use other types of baits, including minnows and spikes.
Let’s take it one at a time and see the different types of live bait for ice fishing.
Minnows are one of the best baits for ice fishing. The live baits are effective, especially if you’re looking to land crappies. You can also use minnows to attract and catch several other fish species, such as walleye, northern pike, trout, catfish, and bass fish.
Of all minnows, the fatheads, shiners, and suckers are the most readily available. One of the most exciting things about minnows is you can always use them, alive or dead. If you want to use them as live bait, we’ll advise you to store them inside a fishing bucket with an aerator. That’s so because they are one of the most challenging baits to keep alive.
Both live baits and dead minnows perform almost the same functions. However, the only advantage that they have over life baits is that they are very transportable on the ice.
Irrespective of the kind of minnows you’re planning to use, you need to hook the bait the right way. That’s the only way that you can land your target fish without having to wait forever.
That said, if you’re looking to attach minnows to your bait hook for ice fishing, here’s how to go about it below:
First, you need to keep the bait alive. Since that’s the case, we’ll advise that you hook it in the back halfway – this should be between the minnow’s tail and the dorsal fin.
Spikes are the pale larvae of the bluebottle flies. They come in tiny sizes, which is why they are ideal for landing smaller catches, such as perch. Although Spikes are small, they have a tough exterior, enabling them to stay on the bait hook for a more extended period during ice fishing.
Interestingly, you can use Spikes to attract and catch various fish types. For instance, they are effective for landing trout and whitefish. Furthermore, Spikes are also common among anglers, who like targeting bluegill and sunfish.
Like Minnows, many anglers find it challenging to keep Spikes alive for a long time. Since that’s the case, if you’ll be using them for ice fishing, we’ll advise you to seal them in a container and store them in a refrigerator.
Waxworms are as effective as minnows for landing various fish species through ice fishing. As earlier stated, they are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths, which belong to the Pyralidae family. Furthermore, the baits are available in various sizes, usually between ¾ inch to 1 inch in length.
Wax Worms are prevalent among many ice-fishing anglers, especially those who love targeting panfish and Bluegill – a freshwater fish species called Brim. They possess a soft exterior, meaning that you should be mindful when threading them on the bait hook.
When combined with the Swedish Pimple or Kastmaster, Wax Worms can be the best option for landing Crappies and Trout. However, if your target is Walleyes, you might have to utilize a Rapala Jigging Rap to hook the bait (waxworms).
You can always find the best-selling live Wax Worms at any local bait and tackle store close to you. Apart from that, you can also shop for the baits on a few reliable online platforms, such as Amazon.
Depending on the fish species you’re looking to land, nightcrawlers are one of the best live bait that you can consider using for ice fishing. They are excellent live bait for catching Trout (Lake, Brown, and Rainbow). Apart from that, you can also utilize them to land other fish species, including Crappies, Salmon, Bluegill, and Sunfish.
Although nightcrawlers can work for anglers who like targeting yellow perch, they are not as effective as minnows and leeches. Furthermore, we won’t advise that you use the live bait if you’re looking to target Walleyes. If that’s your target, you can consider using minnows during winter.
Nightcrawlers are usually big; so, for better ice fishing results, we’ll advise that you hook them carefully on a size eight bait hook. That said, you can always get nightcrawlers at any tackle store near you. That’s not all; you can also pick them up during fall around your home and store them properly, as earlier mentioned.
5. Butter worms
Butter worms are suitable for landing various fish species during ice fishing. In case you don’t know, butter worms, also called Tebo worms, are moth larvae commonly found in Chile. You can use them if you’re looking to catch plenty of panfish. Furthermore, butter worms are also excellent live bait for anglers interested in landing hard-water lake Trout.
If you’re interested in using butter worms, you need to learn how to hook them for ice fishing. With a Kastmaster spoon, all you need to do is to attach two or three of them on the bait hook. After that, jig aggressively as you can and watch as they attract the target fish.
Although Leeches aren’t as popular as most other live baits on this list, they are excellent for landing various fish species through ice fishing. Many anglers don’t like using them because they tend to curl up in a ball during winter.
If you’re interested in using the live bait, you can always get them at any local tackle and bait store close to you. Furthermore, you’ll also need to learn a few tricks to use them properly for your targets. we’ll also advise that you get them to adapt to cold weather by storing them in a refrigerator for a long time before using them for ice fishing.
Mealworms, as earlier mentioned, are a good choice for catching different species of fish during ice fishing. You can find them at local tackle stores or on reliable online platforms, such as Amazon.