Capt. Gus: Bloodworm bait

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everyone has dangled a worm from a hook at one time or another in hopes of catching a fish. Arguably, worms are the best bait for catching the widest variety of fish in both fresh and saltwater. No one knows for sure why. Maybe it’s the smell, the reddish color or the wiggle. Regardless of the reason, worms do catch fish.
Most freshwater anglers use earthworms, night crawlers and red-wigglers with great success. But savvy anglers are switching to bloodworms, found on the tidal mud flats of Maine and Canada. Bloodworms are so effective that some call them the “ultimate fish bait.”
They have always been the bait of choice for saltwater fishermen who cast bottom rigs on the coast for winter flounder, weakfish, bluefish, perch, porgies and striped bass. Yes, particularly, striped bass!
It’s no wonder that someone eventually tried a couple dozen bloodworms in Lake Norman to see if they would tempt its landlocked striped bass population … and guess what? Bloodworms do catch stripers and just about every other fish that swims in the lake. Anglers who use them brag about catching lots of pan fish, small cats and even the ever leery largemouth bass.
So why, you ask, don’t more people fish with bloodworms? First and foremost, they are only available at a few bait outlets around Lake Norman. They are also expensive – about $1 each when sold by the dozen. Care must be taken when you put them on the hook. They can and will bite your fingers with the pinchers inside their mouth.
Bloodworms are the preferred live bait when casting from the banks of either of Lake Norman’s two “hot holes.” They catch fish by bobber and bottom rigs anywhere there are fish.
Since it is believed that the smell of the bloodworm lures the fish, only a small piece is needed to catch white perch and small cats. Larger pieces or whole worms are used to fish for stripers, bass and large catfish.
When blood worms can’t be found or are too expensive for your fishing budget, try one of the synthetic bloodworm baits sold by Fishbites and Berkley. The scent emitted as the artificial strip bait dissolves in the water, is said to replicate that of a live bloodworm. It also stays on the hook better and often allows the angler to catch more than one fish per bait.
As mentioned previously, bloodworms are not always easy to find, but they can usually be purchased at the Terrell Bait Shop, NC 150, Terrell, 828 478 2024, and Beach’s General Store, NC 73, Stanley, 704 483 1053.
In closing, they aren’t called bloodworms for nothing. They bleed a lot when cut into pieces and make quite a mess. Have water and towels near the cutting station for cleanup.
Tips from Capt Gus:
Bloodworms, saltwater marine animals, die after about five minutes in fresh water, so it is prudent to change baits frequently.
Hot Spot of the Week:
Suspended stripers, bass and white perch are being caught along the edges of the main river and major creek channels on both sides of the NC 150 Bridge. White perch fishing has been exceptional with catches exceeding 100 per boat being reported by some anglers. Anglers fishing for stripers are trolling umbrella rigs, deep jigging or drifting live baits..
The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the high 30s to mid-40s in open water not affected by power generation. The lake level is about 3.7 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.2 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an outdoor columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his web site, or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mail him at