THE EARLY TROUT GETS THE WORMPicture of a nightcrawler

Every year it seems as if there’s a slew of new gadgets, gizmos and thingamajigs introduced to help anglers catch more fish. Some rattle, others sparkle - many do both and more. While these novelties will likely catch their share of fish, there’s a low-tech lure that’s tried and true on early-season trout: nightcrawlers.

Even the most advanced anglers probably got started by tossing a worm on a hook into the water. And for good reason. Besides providing a relatively cheap introduction to the sport, worms are about as popular with fish as chocolate cake is with us. While worms can be an effective bait throughout the year, they can be particularly potent for early-season trout. Streams often run high and turbid in the spring. But trout can use their sense of smell to locate live bait, such as worms, even when cloudy water limits visibility. Similarly, they can use their sense of "taste" to help them hone in on bait.

There are actually many different kinds of worms, but perhaps the favorite among anglers are the larger species generically called nightcrawlers. Nightcrawlers are readily available at tackle shops and even convenience stores. For those who prefer to take a hands-on approach to collecting their opening day bait, it’s easy to round up nightcrawlers right in your own backyard.

Here’s a few tips for harvesting happy and healthy nightcrawlers:

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