Nightcrawlers up his sleeve
If you sometimes think I’m too obsessed with using nightcrawlers to catch fish you can probably blame a book. Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers has been out of print for quite a while, but most of the techniques outlined in its pages will never be out of date.
I often refer to Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers and adjust its ideas to whatever fish I’m after. I highly recommend it and I see Amazon has a used one for $26.93 and one for $168.95. I have no idea why one has an out of sight price, but I’ll stick with the $26.93 if I ever need another copy.
There can be no doubt that nightcrawlers can catch most species of fish, but you first need to get the worm in front of the quarry. Here are a couple of ideas I use. Just don’t take my suggestions as gospel as they are just ideas that have worked for me.
First, if you are a shore bound angler, as I have often been, you need to find an area with water deep enough to hold fish. Years ago there was a brush pile close to shore at East Palestine’s City Lake that always held a bass. That brush is probably no longer there, but there will be something similar in most lakes.
Weed beds are also a good place to find fish. If I fish these areas I might use a bobber to control the depth of the bait. To present the bait as naturally as possible I might cast it without any weight or bobber. Often a light action spinning rod will let you cast with the bait alone for weight. It just depends on the situation and how far you need to cast out to reach the fish.
Once you use a boat to get out on the lake it’s a different ball game. Away from shore you need a way to determine at which depth the fish are holding. If they are down about 9 to 15 feet, you can often just lower the bait over the side of the boat.
Here, again, it is important make a natural presentation. That often means using an unencumbered line with just a hook and the nightcrawler. Often no weight is needed, or maybe just a light split shot. Keep a firm grip on your rod as a big fish could hit hard enough to take it overboard, along with your bait.
There will be times, especially in the hot days of summer, when the fish will lie deep; often right on the bottom. That’s when you will need a little weight to get to the fish. If you are still fishing and decide to use no weight you are going to need patience to wait while the nightcrawler settles down to the bottom.
If you have the patience of Job I say go for it, but I will add a small sinker to my line. Patience is just not one of my virtues.
If you are trolling an inland lake there are all sorts of weights available to get the bait down to the fish. The walking sinker has a bend in it to help prevent snags, and there is even a Lindy no-snag sinker on the market.
I’ve found the walking sinker to be adequate in most situations, and I pour my own out of lead using a Do-It mold. I do not recommend that you pour melted lead as it can be hazardous to your health. I do pour with lead, but that is my own decision.
I also cast my own bottom bouncers, which are basically just a weight cast over a flexible wire. The idea is for the wire to tick along the bottom without the weight becoming snagged. The bait, or lure, is on a leader set back a few feet from the bottom bouncer.
My favorite presentation is to use a slip sinker about 18 inches ahead of a floating jig. The floating jig will hold the bait off the bottom. I learned this method while fishing with a guide for saugeyes and it has always caught fish while slow trolling inland lakes.
Now you have a few methods that have been effective for me. If they interest you I suggest you either try to find an old copy of Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers or at least do a Google to find a picture of the devises I use. Then you will understand them better.