I found several back and side yards in the next little town filled with nightcrawlers, and every little creek around had plenty of minnows and crayfish. So, when I wanted to fish for catfish or bass I caught enough for the next day and when I planned to hit Millbrook Lake for crappie I bought and used a minnow seine and minnow bucket. When I grew up and headed north to teach biology I saw no reason to change.
Wherever you live in Huron County there’s likely to be plenty of nightcrawlers, often within walking distance. All it takes is an old house with a yard holding rich, dark soil, a golf course or cemetery (with permission), or similar holding ground for the juicy worms. I use today what I used early on, an old flashlight that cast a fairly weak beam, and a container for the worms. The crawlers come out at night to cast their droppings and sometimes mate, and the best time to seek them is after a good rain when the grass and soil are wet.
You’ll ease along very quietly since the worms are sensitive to vibrations and zip instantly back into their holes, working the flashlight back and forth and looking for a pencil-like shine in the grass. The second you see one, shift the light, because they’re sensitive to that too, and will quickly disappear. Then you bend over, place a finger or two right where they enter the ground, and very gently pull straight up. Do it too quick, and you’ll tear them in two. Do it right and another worm hits your jar or can.
I like to keep my crawlers in a purchased box filled with damp sphagnum moss that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, and I keep them in the refrigerator until needed. If you’re lazy, and have ambitious youngsters, offer them 50 cents per dozen and let them earn their allowance the fun way while you watch a late baseball game. Either way works.
For minnows, buy a minnow seine at a sporting goods store, one with floats at the top and bits of lead along the bottom, and cut two five foot poles to tie along the sides. Then head for the nearest creek with permission, look for school of minnows, wade out into what is usually ankle deep water, and slowly seine toward the shore. Then sort your catch into a bucket or two filled with the creek water, and head home. If I’m going fishing right then, off I go. If the next morning, I fill five gallon buckets with water, put a dozen or two into each bucket, and occasionally aerate the water before dark by pouring small buckets of water with plenty of splash into the holding buckets.
Crayfish — much the same, though I usually keep these in damp moss and in my refrigerator for next morning, keeping in mind that you can possess no more than 100 crayfish or 500 crayfish, minnows, and other bait fish. The result saves me money, and I can fish while others wait for bait shops to open. That makes it worth the trouble.
* * *
HOOKS & BULLETS
• The U.S. Department of the Interior announced recently that $475,000 was awarded to Ohio through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program. The Metroparks of the Toledo Area will receive the funds for the Manhattan Marsh Park Development. Interior announced this grant as part of $13.3 million to assist 22 cities in 17 states with projects to plan, build, and enhance parks and other outdoor recreation facilities in undeserved communities. Among outdoor recreation facilities will be kayak and canoe launches and fishing piers.
• Captain Jake Hardy is the new owner of TowBoatUS Mentor, an on-water towing and assistance service for recreational boaters on Lake Erie. Much like an auto club for boaters, BoatUS offers TowBoatUS Unlimited Freshwater Towing Membership Plans for boaters and anglers for $72 per year. Which includes BoatUS membership. Boaters face costs that average $700 per towing incident, so savings are substantial. For details, call BoatUS at 440-590-5953.
• Lake Erie perch anglers are being asked to scan their yellow perch catch again this year to help in a research study on fish behavior, migration, population size and death rate, all useful information that will help to maintain and even increase perch populations. The scans are to find microchips placed in a large number of perch. To scan caught fish, visit a scanning station. A map of these stations is waiting at go.osu.edu/perchscan.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at email@example.com. You can also visit his blog at outdoors withmartin.com.