How to Find Nightcrawlers in Your Backyard

By Richard | Fishing Advice

how to find nightcrawlers in your backyard
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As anglers, we are sure you may have lost count of the number of times you spend your time driving from one store to another to buy nightcrawlers instead of spending that time on the water to fish.

It happens far too often, and every angler dreads it, but nightcrawlers are vital since they are baits that the fish cannot refuse, so they can ensure you don’t leave empty-handed.

As such, many are wondering how to find nightcrawlers in your backyard. Is it even possible? Or should we just go to a store?

Let’s just get right to it. Yes, you absolutely can find nightcrawlers in your backyard.

Catching your bait is not only a fun thing to do but also an excellent way to save money!

How to Find Nightcrawlers in Your Backyard

Believe it or not, you don’t always need to go to the store to buy nightcrawlers. You are most likely to find it in your backyard.

You need to keep in mind that you can find worms in almost every type of soil, but you can find the healthiest and the largest ones that you need in healthy and good draining lawns.

That means your backyard indeed becomes a great place to begin. Keep your lawns mowed short, and this will allow you to find the worms faster!

Additionally, you can look for worms in the soil that is loose around the house.

You can check flower beds and gardens, too, since they are known to produce a substantial number of healthy and large nightcrawlers.

Other places you can look for nightcrawlers in your backyard are under woodpiles, landscape pavers, or even other items that you have left sitting on the top of the soil for a while.

That is because worms are known to concentrate on gaps between the soil and the items mentioned if left undisturbed.

If your yard isn’t capable of providing worms good enough for fishing, or if you just don’t have a yard in your home or apartments, that’s fine.

You can find worms almost anywhere. Simply walk around your neighborhood and find sidewalks that have groomed edges.

Worms tend to get caught pretty easily between these groomed edges and sidewalks.

Keep in mind that if the worms are in someone else's property, do not trespass. Ask their permission before searching for worms.

You can also look for worms in your nearby park after dusk. Again, make sure you have all the necessary permissions so that you won't get in trouble.

Are Nightcrawlers the Same as Earthworms?

Nightcrawlers are commonly referred to as garden worms or dew worms. These are large earthworms you can typically find at night.

In fact, one of the best times to find these worms are after a rainstorm. The majority of fish love them, so they are such a popular choice among anglers.

Earthworms, on the other hand, are referred to as red wigglers. Some people use them for worm composting because the excreted casings are a brilliant fertilizer for gardens.

Earthworms and nightcrawlers often belong to one category: worms.

That said, there are several differences between these two “worms”.

Where and When to Find Them

For starters, you will find nightcrawlers coming out only during the night when the soil is loose with water or dew, which is why you can usually find them after rain.

On the contrary, earthworms can be typically found under debris or in compost.

Color and Size

The alternate name or earthworms, “red wiggler”, comes from its reddish-brown color.

These worms are known to grow to roughly an inch in length.

Nightcrawlers are bigger compared to earthworms. This aspect makes it super easy to differentiate between these two worms.

Additionally, nightcrawlers tend to be more grayish and are capable of burrowing as deep as six to seven feet into the soil.

how to find nightcrawlers in your backyard

Nightcrawler FAQs

Now that we know the difference between a nightcrawler and an earthworm, as well as how to find them in your background, here are answers to some common questions about them:

1. Do Nightcrawlers Come Out Every Night?

Yes, nightcrawlers are known to come out only during the night, and there is an interesting reason behind it.

Nightcrawlers can breathe through their skin, so they must stay moist and cool for them to continue breathing normally.

If these worms come out when the sun is out, it will dry them out pretty quickly, which means they will be unable to breathe.

Coming out from the soil, which is their safety home after the sun goes down, keeps the risk of them getting dried out to an absolute minimum.

It is also important to note that these worms belong in the food chain, too, like everyone else.

Coming out at night means there are lesser predators for them to fear and worry about.

As mentioned, nightcrawlers also come out during the rain or right after it has rained, not because they will drown underground in the water but because of the high humidity present in the air.

The humidity helps them move around with ease and without the fear of them drying out.

Surprisingly, nightcrawlers are also capable of surviving underwater for a long time.

That is as long as there is ample oxygen for them to breathe.

2. Are Nightcrawlers Good for Fishing?

In water bodies, the diet of a fish is varied. For instance, fish in lakes are happy enough to eat random insects that fall in the water.

They are also fine eating bits of leaves, which means you can use almost anything as bait. That can include bees, cricket, and bread.

You can even use a paste made from particular species of fish that are known to be excellent bait for bigger fish species. The smell will attract them towards it.

You can also use artificial baits that tend to jiggle when they fall into the water.

The movement tricks the fish into thinking that it is an actual insect that fell into the water.

With all this in mind, don't be inclined to believe that not every fish likes to eat nightcrawlers.

It is just that they are always looking to eat, and the nightcrawlers are a great all-round substitute because when you toss them into the water, they tend to wiggle around quite a bit.

Fish are known to love movements, and this, along with the fact that they are getting food to eat, makes them attracted to the nightcrawler.

That is the main reason why you will find experienced anglers recommending live nightcrawlers instead of dead ones.

3. What Kind of Fish Eat Nightcrawlers?

Almost every type of freshwater baitfish and gamefish, well at least in the North American continent, are fond of eating nightcrawlers.

That said, some of these species are more drawn to this worm than the rest.

For instance, fish like chain pickerel, muskies, pike, carp, and adult largemouth bass are not that interested in eating nightcrawlers.

While you may occasionally end up finding one of these fish species trying to eat the nightcrawler on the bait, we don’t recommend betting on it since worms are towards the end of the list of their favorite food.

On the contrary, fish species like chubs, suckers, trout, striped bass, panfish, shiners, walleye, bullheads, shad, and freshwater drum are attracted to nightcrawlers.

In fact, you can catch bluegills, trout, and bullheads successfully using nightcrawlers compared to other baits.

On that note, since these worms are bigger, you shouldn’t be fishing with the whole nightcrawler jabbed on the hook for smaller fish species like sucker, perch, trout, and bluegills.

For these species, it is best to break off the nightcrawler into half or in three pieces.

By doing so, you end up maximizing the use of the worm for more fish.

It helps it go further and prevents these small fish species from stealing the bait and leaving you empty-handed.

4. How to Fish with Nightcrawlers?

An easy way to fish with nightcrawlers is by tying it on the hook and casting it into the water.

It is a tried and tested method that has always done well. It is also a good way to teach someone new to fishing.

As mentioned earlier, make sure to cut the nightcrawler into smaller pieces if you are fishing for smaller fish.

Fish species like panfish are well known to be notorious bait thieves.

We also recommend checking out some of the best fishing rod and reel combos that you can use along with the nightcrawler to catch fish.


We hope that by now, you know how to find nightcrawlers in your backyard.

To summarize, look for these worms after sunset and especially after rainfall, since these are the best times to find them.

We are confident you can find a bunch of them with ease and will no longer have to spend any more money buying them.

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