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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!

Comments for Keto Worms

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Feb 18, 2019
Where do you live?!
by: timmy

Les, just got done reading your comments about Keto worms. Dude, you must live in another dimension of Nampa, ID.! I lived and fished around that area for over 25 years and for the life of me i can't figure out your ideas?! "Next month in my area fishing for Sunfish and Crappies will begin in earnest"? Say what??? The Boise/Namapa area USED to be called the "banana belt" through the 80s but no more. Weather reports there currently is in the mid 30s and really won't climb much higher till late April-May. And according to the most current USGS water temps report water is in the low 40s. Those temps wont rise till the air/sun warms up the air to around the mid 60s to low 70s. Warm water fish don't stir or rise till the water temps get to around the low-mid 60s.Thats quite a different picture than you gave us.

Feb 18, 2019
Pre-spawn schooling
by: Les Albjerg

Timmy, Next month I will be fishing the small ponds that have sunfish primarily, and two of them have crappies. The fish are suspended in 12 to 16 feet of water (Suntech Fine Power 56! water), these pre-spawn fish are the ones I target. The schools can be found with a fish finder. Two of these ponds are 24 feet deep. Yes the water is still fairly cold, but the fish do bite! I was raised with a sunfish and crappie fanatic, my grandfather. The great thing about fishing with a long Keiryu rod is it is easy to just drop that worm right in the middle of the school of fish! It isn't as fast and furious as late April through June, but it is sure fun. I catch sunfish in July in similar places as I find them in March.

A great book about fishing Bluegills year-round is "The Bluegill Diaries - A Fly Fishing Chronicle by Terry and Rosanne Wilson. It is a book about fly fishing, but the principles apply if you are fishing worms. I also catch bluegills in the Boise River. There are some very nice calm pools that always yield 4 or 5 fish no matter what time of year I hit them. I'm fishing down river from Notus. I'm an explorer. Most of my best panfish areas I fish alone, because as you know this is trout country! The majority of the people who fish for pan fish hit the Owyhee Reservoir or C.J. Strike Reservoir in May and June. Sure they will have their 100 plus fish days. I fish them too. However, just south of me is a pond that has slab crappies. I've never had to share the pond. I won't tell anyone where it is either. I'll start fishing at least once a week for panfish in about a month.

Most fisherman I know get into a rut. I try not to by planning on fishing new areas every year. I discovered another new pond on Google Earth not far from Caldwell. With Onyx Maps, I have figured out how to get to it. The landowner who would have made it easy access, told me "no" when I asked for permission. No big deal in my book. The walk won't kill me, and from the information I gathered from the landowner, he doesn't let anyone cross his property. This makes it even less pressured water!

Timmy did you know there is a spring fed creek in one of the public parks in Caldwell with a nice population of trout? So far in the past 3 years, I have never seen anyone else fish it except me! No signs of other fisherman either. You said you lived here for 25 years.

Mar 10, 2019
Spring fed creek
by: Spielerman

Love to know that Caldwell park Les.
Need to get the 10 year old into some fish. While we do fish the stocked ponds by Idaho Fish and Game, need some awesome stream fishing with tenkara. Just something magical, hard to do on ponds for trout ( though we do get some sunfish and bass). Btw, you really have me interested in starting my own worm farm.

Mar 10, 2019
Not a place for kids
by: Les Albjerg

The creek is riddled with poison ivy and is very tough wading. For a 10 year old, close to Boise, I’d hit the North Fork of the Boise. Grimes Creek isn’t too bad. Neither is Mores Creek. I like the Middle Fork of the Boise, too. One of my favorites that would be great for a 10 year old is the South Fork of the Boise above Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

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