BAIT and SWITCH! Chillin and Drillin series #6
By Montana Grant

Posted: December 24, 2022

Icemen are picky about their bait. Depending on where you live, there are buckets of baits to choose from. Baits are also pretty pricey. In the warmer weather, worms, and other baits are easy to find around the woods or garden. Once the water hardens up, we need to rely on the local gas stations and bait stores. When we buy a dozen worms, a few bottles of maggots, or containers of waxworms and meal worms, we always have leftovers.

Here are some ways to keep your bait fresh and ready for the next trip.

                TEMPERATURE     Too hot or too cold are a baits death wish. Try to store the bait in a place that stays around 40 degrees. This could be a refrigerator or just in a heated garage. I keep my garage at 45 degrees which is perfect. My wife’s wine fridge is also in the same range. A Styrofoam worm container fits nicely in the back. Just don’t tell my wife. You may want to keep bait out of the kitchen fridge.

MOISTURE    Too dry and bait will die. Too wet and the bait suffocates. Use a mister to add water. If you can squeeze water from the bait media, it’s too wet.

BEDDING    Worm bedding is perfect and cheap. Add a bit of water and toss in the worms. To feed them, add some powdered milk or commercial powdered worm food.

                CONTAINERS    We tend to jam and cram bait into a small container. Whatever container you choose, leave it half empty. This allows air and movement. Shredded newspaper on top works as a shade cover. Black Ink is soy based and not toxic. Mist the media and allow the worms some freedom. Styrofoam containers work well but so will Tupperware or other plastic containers. Just punch some pin holes in the lids and use the old, stained storage containers.

                SPIKES and MAGGOTS     These larvae are Blowfly and house fly offspring. You want to use them when they remain in the larva stage. To slow down any metamorphosis into a pupa, place them in the fridge at 33-35 degrees. You don’t want to freeze them, just have them slow down their life cycle. Colored baits will not last as long.  If they freeze, they die, if it warms up, they pupate. Feed them with sawdust or cornmeal. Mealworms love oats. Just a little will do. Use larger containers than the pill bottles that they come in. Take what you need when you go fishing.

                BAIT in YOUR POCKET    We have all heard the joke about the iceman that kept his bait warm by holding them in his mouth. NO, not a good idea. Instead, use a sturdy container that easily fits into your pockets. For worms, I use a spring lidded, metal, worm can. Make sure that you have media with the worms. The metal can always stays closed and protects the bait. The spring lid also helps cut the worms to length. Use a sturdy bottle for the other maggots and meal worms. A screw lid takes longer to open but it will stay closed. If you use a bottle with a pop off lid, make sure it seals securely. Otherwise, you end up with a pocket full of loose bait.

JOY JUICE      Another bait trick is to add some scent liquid or gel to the baits. I call this Joy Juice. Some will glow in the dark. You can also add some damp, used, coffee grounds to your bait containers to make them wiggle more.

MINNOWS    Where I live in Montana, live minnows are not allowed. Eastern areas allow live minnows to be used. Friends set up fish tanks in their garages and keep the minnies swimming all year. They are killers for walleyes.

These bait tricks will allow you to save bait for 3-6 months! If you buy bait in bulk, you can save money and always have bait on hand.

Montana Grant

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