Do you love big bluegill?
Okay folks, most of you here are fan of live baits. Worms are the way to go. Most folks are into purchasing Canadian/African/Euro nightcrawlers. That's fine. But these nightcrawlers don't stand well when it comes to the battles in the water. African nightcrawler, by far, the best for baits, but horrible when it comes to raising. Worst type to raise for garden/compost piles will be the Canadian or Euro. They're a freaking pain in the butt. I have them all. They are so poor adapters of various environment.
Now, I'm show you tricks to raise the special kind of worms that, although not native to America, but had been introduced to the US back in the 1800s, they are the titans of worms. Normally, they're found in the southeastern states, primarily in Georgia and Alambama, thus, the name, Georgia/Alambama Jumpers. DO NOT purchase any of these jumpers with the "Amynthas agrestis", which quite a few states deemed them to be prolific invasive species. Look for the "Amynthas gracilis", the larger of the species from Asian. They are indeed prolific, but lower production rate, and more violent in the water, not to mention much more durable. I've taken both the Amynthas agrestis and gracilis, and both produce fishes like there's no tomorrow. The Amynthas agrestis are extremely aggressive in preventing you in putting it onto the hook, due to its shorter size (3" to 4"). The Amynthas gracilis, in the full mature size, which is as long as 9", are more docile when you're hooking them, but once hit the water, HOLY SMOKE! Carps and large mouth bass can't get enough of them. 1.5" segment of this Amynthas gracilis will make the fish fight harder for it than the African nightcrawler, known for its stench. If you want potency of the stench for the Amynthas gracilis, grab enough of the worms you want on the side, put them in a different 5 gallon container with the bedding and food, add enough powdered garlic to layer a good fine white layer, and 3 days later, those worms are one stinky attractive bait.
Bin: A tote, about 50 gallons, costs about $20. These worms love lateral burrowing, which they tend to move sideways, and very little downwards, in an isolated bin. However, if they are in the wild, and soil, they will be up above, eating, throughout the day, as long as there's sufficient shade/lack of light. All worms are photo sensitive. Drill enough holes in one corner to allow water/worm tea to be drained out of. When you place the bin, make sure there's a 2-inch elevation different from each side. This promotes proper drainage. You will need some weed guard mat and rocks to create a drainage basin above these holes, and preventing the worms from crawling out.You can use fabrics if you like. Just cover the holes up with at least 5" in different direction, pile the small 1/4" to 1/2" rocks onto of the fabric, and add a bit of coarse sand over the rocks and fabric to push the fabric down to prevent the worms from crawling through the gaps.
Soil you need: don't use coarse soil (just enough to cover the rocks to act as drainage basin over the holes), like riverbed sand, or multipurpose sand. Loamy sand, clay, or just any good fine sand. Perfect type of soil is your backyard, where it was nice and moist from all the gardening, or at least covered with a bit of top soil.
Soil amendment: you need a good mix of compost. Purchase a bag of compost that has a nice content of large chunky woody materials in them. If you have a nice compost pile already which had been broken down and cured, use that. You can use horse manure or rabbit manure to mix into the sand. The worms will thank you.
Mixture: add 50% of your soil, and 50% of the compost together. Mix it well. Do not fill the bin beyond 1/2 bin height. You need the rest as buffered room for adding composting/scrap materials later. Add a top layer of dried leaves/grass/shredded newspaper without the waxy content. Only recycled black/white newspaper. No waxy or heavy stock colored papers. Pour enough water onto everything, until you have a nice moist (not soaking/dripping wet) mixture. This should be about 40% to 50% moist, which the worms will love.
Let the bin sits under the shaded area for about 2 days before introducing worms into the mix. When you get your worms, place them all into one single pile, and let them burrow when they want, as they adapt to their new environment.
If you're living a frost zone every winter, make sure to position your bin in an area where the temperature will not kill them, which happens to drop below 45°F. Unlike the nightcrawlers, these worms will survive in the harsh cold.
Worms: most of you are lucky enough to live in areas where the Alabama Jumpers are abundant to be harvest from the soil. You cannot miss these things, as they are violently move in a C-shape patter, or literally move like a snake when you try to grab/touch them. However, for us who are not lucky enough to have these beauty easily harvested, I only able to find one reputable source that truly provide these correct worm species, where others are falsely advertise theirs. Do not be tricked. I've fallen into other worm farms' trickery, and spend quite a bit in obtaining the wrong species that they promised to deliver. The site I normally order from on the yearly basis for the past few years is www.organicwormfarm.com (this site went bellied up after AAA complaints about the owner is scamming his clients/customers, including myself..he has many other sites, so be aware of who you're purchasing from).
Forgot to add an example of the loamy sand, or loamy clay soil type for reference.
Great write up Leo. I would like to add never use a clear bin get the darkest bin you can find worms hate light. I found a dark purple tote at Family Dollar. That's what I started out with and I have a story to go with it. I put my soil in put my worms in and covered with news paper wet it all down I keep a mist spray bottle next to it and every time I open it I spray about a dozen squirts. I fed veggies scraps and coffee grounds. Done that for a year. My worms doubled or even tripled so I bought a worm factory. Got all the worms I could get out of the tote and put them in the factory. I keep the tote diet in the tote because I seen lots of eggs. Well I forgot about it for a year or so didn't do anything to it just worked with the worm factory. They more that doubled so I added another tray. Another year and I decide I'd better clean everything out and start with some new soil. Again so many egg casings. I thought to check the purple tote and did. Wow it was full of worms. I have so many worms I don't what to do with them all. To fatten them up I used some chicken starter feed and they actually doubled in size. Worms, worms, worms, maybe I should start and use some for bait only the kids have been using them. Thought I'd add this in you can't hardy go wrong with raising worms as long as you feed and keep the soil moist not wet.
Dead on Dick. Clear plastics is an invitation to failed worm farming, unless you store it under your sink, closet, or very dark location, such as your basement. The worm factory (multi-trays) is great if you're raising more than 1500 red wigglies. Otherwise, the multi-trays will not be suitable for larger worms like the nightcrawlers. This is where the massive bins come into play. If one don't like to have a large bin, there are hanging sacks made out of potato sacks, or burlap materials. Great stuff, and occupying less space. My factory 4 trays are beyond full. My compost pile in the backyard is too loaded with mix culture of worms. There are way too many birds hanging around my place's roof awning (generating quite a bit of poops on the ground) and dive bombing my kids and dogs, while foraging on the insects and worms from my yards. I need to isolate a huge farm to replenish the lost population during the winter's activities, and easy for me to access to for fishing. I try not to shove probes into the ground any more, promoting shell-shocked worm cultures that slows down the beneficial activities they're providing, unless I'm trying to salvage local population to cultivate them in isolation to gain a larger population quickly.
There are many recipes for the worm chow, just by typing up "DIY Worm Chow" in the search engines like Google or Yahoo. But you're darn right about the chicken starter feed. Cheap, and quick in getting those worms fatten up within a week or two before fishing activities. They also proven to increase worms' growth and reproduction activities because of the quick maturity rate.
Dick, you may want to look up the similar species as the red wiggly in your garden, known as the orange-saddle worms (Microscolex dubius). It has an orange-yellow tip to the head to its saddle. These little guys is the same size as the red wigglies, but the coloration of the body attract the fish quite uniquely for some reason. I'm not the fish, and there wasn't a study on the attractive scent the worms put out, but oddly enough, these worms attract the fishes far faster than the red wigglies. Just something to think about. They are easily found in plant pots with Asian's fruit trees. They tend to be found in slight arid environment as well.
I really need to order some worms in . looks like I need to order in 2 differant ones now thanks to Leo :)
No problem Bob. I know you like to fish with live baits, using the specialized quill floats. Not sure what type of worms you normally fish with, but one of these full size jumper will take your quill right under *LOL* The juvenile, about 1" to 2" long, will be a perfect arsenal for your fun time. Their tough exterior skin provides quite a few battles before they are lost, unlike the nightcrawlers. My wife and kids love how the rods' tips kept on shaking before a solid hookset as the fishes trying to rip the 1.5" segment offering off the circle hooks. Everyone around us just smile in eagerness for the hookset anticipation. We end up giving a few containers of the spare jumpers we have leftover to the anglers as we headed home early. The second the worms hit the water, they out catch the nightcrawlers and wigglies once the fishes got a clue that the jumpers are in the water as offerings.
can I raise the jumper inside in a controlled environment ? I fish with wigglers when I can get them
Yes Bob, indeed you can. Just make sure not use to use a round tote/container when raising them. You need wide and long containers. They like to crawler laterally, as they consume and burrow. I've done well with all nightcrawler species, especially with jumpers, in bins that are long, and half as wide. 50 gallons totes are the best approach.
According to Bruce from Organic Worm Farm, they're just getting out of the frost right now. He's starting up his shipment according to the placement of the order. Apparently, I'm #52 for a 1000. A few pulled out and order from other worm farms, which I do know who they're ordering from. Those are not true jumpers, nor their big red worms. They're Euro crawlers hybrids and juveniles.
Order now, so you can get your order processed. If you're just raising them for fishing, 500 is much more than enough. They will double and triple in about 6 months when you have optimal conditions and feeding them correctly. My ignorance was to take all my captive worms, and released them to make up for the loss population due to birds foraging while I was not tending my garden during my working hours. I thought I held back a 100 to 200 counts, but I was mistaken. Now, I have to order more to replenish the dwindling population of the jumpers.
I still have quite a few of the smaller jumpers (Amynthas agretis) among the dried leaves piles. They're thriving very well, but I'm not about to cultivate them. The gracilis it the best one to cultivate.
David, you are one lucky man. You found fishing/composting gold! They are indeed muscular, and extremely hard to handle when you grab them quickly out of their environment. But they're a lot more docile when they're removed from the compost bins, rather than the wide open ground. But once hit water, they act like they're drowning for over an hour.
When I use to hunt crawlers in N.C. you know you had the jumpers they wiggled so hard and fast they almost look like there jumping. They were hard to catch and I recall they loved leaves. Good luck on your worm excursion.