Earthworms are not particularly good baits for sea fish, but they should certainly be used when nothing better is obtainable, particularly in brackish water, where eels and flat fish will take them well enough. I gave them a prolonged trial in salt water one summer, and caught a large number of sand dabs and plaice, but found that they very quickly died. In fact, salt water is fatal to worms of many kinds ; and one way of capturing these baits is to sprinkle the garden path with a strong mixture of hot salt and water, with or without the addition of mustard, which will bring the worms out of their holes in double-quick time. In the matter of weeds the process also furthers gardening interests, for that year at least.
To obtain a large quantity of lob or dew worms it is necessary to go out at night with a lantern, wearing a pair of tennis shoes. If it be not frosty or very windy, the worms will be found on lawns and at the edges of paths, lying half out of their holes, taking a dew bath. If there has been a shower just about sundown, they will be very far out indeed ; but if the weather be dry, only a fraction of their bodies will be visible. There is some skill required even to catch a worm. The beginner will make a dab at the creature, which will at once retreat into its hole before being laid hold of. The old hand, on the contrary, treading lightly and holding the lantern in his left hand, will smartly place the second finger of his right hand on the hole in the ground in which the worm is lying, and so prevent the creature's retreat; then with his first finger and thumb he will take hold of the worm, and, pulling gently, will force it to leave its stronghold. Both with half-retreated worms and eels it is always advisable to apply gentle continued pressure ; sooner or later the muscles relax, and out the creature comes. For freshwater fishing many gallons of worms are gathered in this manner during warm summer nights.
A large lobworm makes a fairly good bait for railing or whiffing for pollack, coalfish and bass. For this purpose it should be placed on the hook in the manner shown in the illustration (p. 96). Red worms and brandlings, which breed in old manure, can be used as baits in brackish water for flat fish. Earthworms of all kinds are the better for being kept in damp moss for a few days ; but they require looking over occasionally, and any dead ones should be removed. I have heard it said that brandlings, and, doubtless, other worms, toughen if the rubbings from a soft brick are mixed with the moss. The best method of removing dead worms is to have two receptacles ; let one of these be filled with fresh moss, and on the top of it place the stale moss containing the worms, live and dead. The live worms will burrow down into the fresh moss, while the dead ones will be left at the top and will be removed with the old moss.
Lobworm Used As A Bait For Rail Ing Or Whiffing.