As everybody knows, worms and minnows make good fish bait. And both are relatively easy and fun for kids to collect.
You can dig a mess of small red worms in almost any garden. But for a coffee can full of big, meaty night crawlers you need darkness and a good summer night’s rain. With a thoroughly drenched plot of healthy soil (your front yard or backyard will do nicely), night crawlers will slither their way above ground for a breath of open air. Carry a big flashlight to spot them in the grass. And tell the kids to walk softly. Worms are ultra sensitive to earthy vibrations and will quickly try to escape back underground if they sense you coming.
To rustle up a batch of minnows without missing even one hour of sleep, all you need is a small creek and a minnow trap. Available for less than $10 at any sporting goods store that sells fishing stuff, a wire-mesh minnow trap can be baited with a slice or two of bread or a handful of dog food and placed out overnight. Minnows — in these parts the most common are of the stoneroller and chub variety — can be found congregated at creek bends and in deeper holes under bridges and around culvert pipes.
You can easily catch a mess of minnows by using a single trap. But to ensure enough bait for a day’s worth of fishing, try setting out more than one trap overnight. Come morning, just pull up the traps with the kids on the way to your fishing hole.
Bob Butz writes from Lake Ann. His recent book, Beast of Never, Cat of God, about a possible remnant cougar population in Michigan, is available in bookstores and on the Web. bobbutz.com