Monday, January 19, 2009

Worms and leeches usually best walleye bait

Ron Nelson
Long ago walleye anglers at Bow Narrows Camp discovered that nightcrawlers and leeches are the best live bait at the west end of Red Lake, Ontario, where camp is located.

Minnows do work, but with one possible exception they're no better than worms and leeches and a lot more bother to take care of. In fact about as many minnows die and get pitched overboard as are used for bait.

Worms and leeches, however, are very durable. Keep them cool and they'll last just about forever. But why do they work so well for our fishermen when on other lakes everyone uses minnows? In fact, minnows are even the most common bait at the other end of Red Lake.

I'm not sure but I have a hunch it has to do with the bottom of the lake.

The bottom at the west end of the lake where camp is located is mostly clay. The east end has a lot of sand.
Or maybe there's just a lot of fishermen who haven't wised up to how well worms and leeches work.

Whatever, it is our good fortune that we don't need to use minnows to catch walleyes around Bow Narrows Camp.

We advise everyone to pick up worms or leeches in town or down the highway before they come out to camp. If they need more later on I can get it for them during the mid-week supply trip.

A flat of worms (500) is a good amount for 4 fishermen. Many of our guests pick these up at bait shops along the road but you can also reserve them by calling bait shops in Vermilion Bay, Ear Falls and Red Lake.

All it takes to keep the worms alive are some freezer packs or frozen bottles of water which we have in the fish freezer at camp. Or you can keep the flat in the refrigerator. Many people bring along little insulated containers and just take out a couple of dozen worms fishing and leave the rest back on the cabin porch or fridge.

Leeches are just as easy to look after. A pound of leeches is a good amount to get for 4 fishermen. Keep them cool but also change the water in their bag every day using lake water, not chlorinated water from the tap. Leeches are quite tough on the hook and many times you can catch several walleyes on one leech. (By the same token you can break a nightcrawler into several pieces and therefore catch several fish on each 'crawler too.) Cottage cheese containers work well for taking a couple dozen leeches with you out in the boat.

The one exception to worms and leeches being the best bait can be in September when usually minnows work better.

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