Keto Worms

by Les Albjerg
(Caldwell, ID)

Scouring Container

Scouring Container

I have blogged a lot about lure fishing but I still am a worm guy. Specifically Red Wigglers. Next month in my area fishing for Sunfish and Crappies will begin in earnest, and the Red Wigglers will be forefront in that effort!

I would like the share the results of a few more of my experiments with the Red Wigglers. One thing I would like to make clear to all is these experiments are not things that I have dreamed up. They are at best my interpretation of what several of the old masters did with their Red Wigglers. Books like "Fishing with Worms" by Bliss Perry, "Halcyon" by Henry Wade, "The Practical Angler" by W.C. Stewart just to name three of them. They are interesting reads if you don't mind the old English!

So what is a Keto worm? Most have heard of the Keto diet! (high fat, low carb diet) I'm on a modified Keto diet and it is working! Putting your worms on a Keto diet will keep them healthy and strong in the scouring container. The first experiment I would like to share is one I learned from two of the books above, and several historical articles I dug up on the internet. A small amount of fat will keep your worms healthy. For how long you may ask? I did this experiment for 6 months. The only things in my scouring container, besides the sphagnum moss bedding were two pea size chunks of Suet (picture 2). Not only were the worms healthy and lively, they ended up reproducing in the sphagnum moss bedding. The best sphagnum moss I have found comes from Wisconsin. You can get a small bag from Mosser Lee for $5.99. The alternative is to go gather your own from around trees and wash and wash and wash it! I know from experience! It is easier to buy it and have it. When you want to use the sphagnum moss for bedding in your bait box, cut some up with scissors then moisten it after putting it in the bait box.

My second experiment was with the "Park Avenue" system. There is an article on this under the "Worm Fishing" tab. I let my bed just go. Total neglect except to monitor it every two weeks. It took 5 months for all the worms to die! I know that sounds cruel, but from what I have read the average life span of a Red Wiggler is between 6 and 9 months. But did all of the worms die? Yes and no! I poured the media out of the "Park Avenue" and sifted the media. There were a lot of egg capsules in the media! An egg capsule has from 6-12 baby worms in them. They are a little smaller than a BB and are an amber color. I pulled 36 capsules out of the media, and put them in a fresh bed. That bed is now full of Red Wigglers. If for some reason your worms all disappear, you can start over with the egg capsules that are left behind.

The third insight I would like to share is an easy method to keep your worms happy in their bedding. One of the most difficult things for your worms is the acidotic condition that the bed becomes as it ages. The best way to off-set that is to add calcium to your bed. I looked long and hard for calcium powder. What I found was expensive. I then decided to try Oyster Shell designed for chickens (picture 3). I thought the chunks were too big, but they aren't. You mix it into the bedding and within a few days it melts into the bedding. I add between a third and half a cup every 3 weeks or so. This has kept the worms very healthy. I have one bed I haven't changed in a year now and it is going strong. The Oyster shells also keep the bed smelling good too!

The last point I would like to make is, keeping a worm bed is easy. I do view my wigglers a bit like pets. However, their favorite way to be cared for is to by and large ignore them! I believe most people overfeed their worms. The majority of the current literature on raising worms is for composting. There idea is the worms are for breaking down organic material for making fertilizer. My goal is to raise worms for fishing. I have shared this before, but here is my favorite formula for worm food.

My favorite worm food is what I call "Worm Chow." Here is the formula:

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup Yellow Corn Meal
1 Cup Oat Flour
1/2 Cup Ground up Oyster Shell
1 tablespoon Sugar

Sprinkle one or two tablespoons every other week on a three gallon bin. Make sure the bedding is moist when you put the food down. If you have left over food on top after two days you have fed them too much. Better to underfeed than over feed!

In April and May, I will go through at least 10 dozen worms in a session! It does pay to have your own Red Wigglers. They outfish night crawlers, so they are worth the little effort to raise!

If you have not tried "Ultralight" worm fishing, you don't know what fun you are missing out on! See Chris' article under the "Worm Fishing" tab. It is a blast!

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