Exploring Ice Fishing
Can You Use Worms For Ice Fishing?

Can You Use Worms For Ice Fishing?

Can You Use Worms For Ice Fishing?


If you’re preparing your equipment for a day of ice fishing, you may be wondering what bait will give you the most success in the cold temperatures and icy waters. You may be asking yourself if a lure alone will suffice or if you should bait it with something that will be tasty and irresistible. Worms are a great choice for freshwater fishing, so would worms be good bait for ice fishing as well?

You can use worms for ice fishing. Worms are an enticing choice, and their small size will not interfere with the motion of the lure it is hooked to. This allows the lure to mimic the motion of a small fish in the water while providing the tasty scent of a worm.

Once you’ve decided to take worms with you out on the ice, it’s time to decide what kind of worm will be best for you. The rest of this article will take a detailed look at what worm options are effective as well as what other types of bait are suitable for ice fishing.

How to Use Worms When Ice Fishing

From small maggots like Spikes to full-bodied Earthworms, you have a wide variety of sizes and styles to choose from. You can put these directly on a hook or choose a jig to more effectively get your bait to the proper depth and attract the fish where they are.

If you are interested in using a small jig or spoon, it is a good choice to select one made from lead or tungsten. These materials will allow your jig to be small in size with enough weight to get down to the bottom. This combination allows the lure to get to where the hungry fish will be while moving in a way that imitates the movement of a fish to feed on.

Remember, for any kind of worm you end up taking to ice fishing, make sure to keep them alive and well until you cast them down into the water. Be sure to check the specific conditions that the worms need to survive, and do your best to provide this for them until it’s their time to get on the hook. If they end up dying and becoming dry before you get to your fishing spot, they will not be as enticing to the fish below.


Best Worms for Ice Fishing Bait

Let’s have a look at a few of the most popular types of bait worms and how to use them effectively.


1) Waxworms

Waxworms are one of the most widely-used types of worms when ice fishing. Their versatility wins them favor with all kinds of ice anglers. These aren’t actually worms in a traditional sense, but rather wax moths currently in the larvae stage of their life cycle. They are a bit larger and fuller-bodied, giving you more bait to work with. Some fish that especially love feeding on waxworms are sunfish, crappie, and bluegill.

You can choose between placing one or two waxworms on each hook. It will depend on how the fish are feeding for how many you should place. Once you get a feel for if the fish are calmly nibbling, you will be safe placing one. If they are strongly going after your bait, two is a better choice. The waxworms may get knocked off the hook in the process of feeding so it’s important to check in on your hook from time to time if you suspect it’s no longer attached.

When storing your supply of waxworms, they like to stay dry and not too cold. If you put them deep in your refrigerator, it will likely be too cold for them. A better spot for them would be on the refrigerator door, where it is not so cold. It is also important that they stay out of humidity, so providing a space with some chipped wood bits is a good choice to wick away moisture.


2) Earthworms

Earthworms make a great choice for bait in many conditions, including ice fishing. This is because of the instinct present in a wide range of fish to seek out and eat earthworms on their own. The fish won’t be able to help themselves if they come across a bit of earthworm on your hook.

Earthworms in their entirety will be a bit too big and heavy to be effective. It is best to break them up into smaller pieces. You could slice a full earthworm up into thirds and use one piece at a time. Hook a piece on to your jig, and you’re ready to see what happens.


3) Spikes

Spikes are fly larvae that are well-loved by a variety of different fish. These little guys are destined to become Bluebottle Flies one day, so to prevent this and keep them ready for baiting, be sure to keep them refrigerated in between fishing days.

The size of the spike is quite small, so they tend to attract fish with small, little mouths. This makes them a great choice for panfish or perch. They have a tougher outer layer than some of the other options we are discussing, so if you are experiencing difficulty with the bait coming unhooked in the water, spikes would be a great option to try.


4) Mealworms

Another one in the larvae stage, these little guys are an early form of mealworm beetles. You can use just one of these on your hook and still attract a wide variety of fish. Of course, you can load them up if you prefer to send down a bigger, more enticing bait for the hungry fish below. These are likely to stay put on your hook and attract fish such as trout and panfish.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to mealworms is that they cannot handle getting too cold. They will happily live in your refrigerator for quite a long while, but the conditions on the ice might become too much for them. Take care to keep them warm on the ice to keep them alive and appealing as bait.


Other Attractive Bait Options for Ice Fishing

If you are looking for a few more options to bring along with you in addition to worms, there are some more live bait or close-to-live bait options that are well-loved among ice anglers. Of course, live bait regulations vary by region, so be sure to check if you can legally fish with the types of bait recommended below.


Minnows: Dead or Alive

Whether or not your region allows live bait, you will be able to use some version of minnows. So many different kinds of fish will go crazy for minnows on the hook, especially as they feel particularly hungry in the icy waters of winter.

If you can send minnows into the water alive and also be in accordance with your local law, you should be getting some bites in no time. However, if it is outlawed in your area, you still have options. If you have caught minnows yourself, you can freeze them and use them as dead bait successfully. You can also purchase them pre-frozen if you don’t have any of your own on hand.


Cut Bait: DIY

The next time you are taking home and cleaning your catch of the day, save a few meaty bits of it to be used the next time you head out on the ice. Small pieces of fish will give the right smell without being too heavy and will certainly attract attention in the icy water.



You can’t go wrong when packing some worms with you when you head out to the ice. If you can bring a variety to choose from, you will be able to experiment and see what works best for you and your local conditions.

Remember to keep your worms at a comfortable temperature and the right conditions. Keeping your worms alive and happy will give you better bait for a more successful day on the ice.



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