Fishing bait is getting pricey. Catching, hunting, and growing your own bait is a fun way to save some money, learn some Science, and always have great bait on hand.
Mealworms are named after their diet of eating grains and flour/meal. These crusty worms are the larval stage of a Darkling Beetle. These segmented worms make awesome ice fishing bait and work in open water too. Thery can be used to feed chickens and humans. They are high in protein.
The entire life cycle of the Darkling beetles takes place in 5-6 months. Raising these critters is easy, stink less, and rewarding. You can use inexpensive gear and ingredients to grow a great crop of fish bait.
You will need:
Carrots, potatoes, or apples
Plastic set of drawers
¼ inch hardware cloth/screen
A container of mealworms from the bait shop
The plastic 3 drawer cart will be the mealworm’s home. Cut the bottom out of the top 2 drawers and replace them with the wire mesh. Secure the mesh in place. Place the adult beetles in the top drawers, where they will lay their eggs. The eggs will fall through the wire mesh, hatch, and turn into mealworms.
You will want a dark environment so use duct tape to cover the outside of the drawers. You can also glue black paper to the sides of the drawers to keep out the light. They need no light to live.
Place 1-2 inches of oatmeal bedding in all the drawers. For food, add some chopped up carrots, potatoes, or apples. Once the worms are in the bedding and food containers, they will get their moisture from the vegetables. Stock a container of meal worms in the top 2 drawers.
You only need to check your bait baskets once a week. If the food is gone, add some more. If any food is getting moldy, take it out and replace it with fresh. You will only need to replace the old bedding, Frass, 3-4 times a year. The Frass makes perfect compost.
As the mealworms turn into adult beetles, move them into the top 2 drawers, where they will reproduce. You can also just rotate the stack of stocked drawers. You want to keep the farm in a dark place where the worms will not bake or freeze.
Once the Mealworm farm is growing, you can pull out bait as needed. Just keep enough mealworms in the farm to keep the colony growing and reproducing.
Bait up and good luck!