There’s nothing quite like the thrill of ice fishing – sitting on a frozen lake, waiting for the perfect catch, surrounded by the beauty of winter. But if you’re not having much luck, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your chances. The answer is simple – wax worms. These little critters are a secret weapon when it comes to ice fishing. In this guide, we’ll examine wax worms and how they can help you catch more fish.
What are Wax Worms?
Wax worms are the larvae of the wax moth, a species of moth found in beehives. These little worms are a favorite of many fish species, making them excellent bait for ice fishing. They’re small, soft, and easy for fish to swallow, making them an irresistible treat.
Using larvae as fishing bait is a fairly common practice, especially in winter, when fish are sealed under the ice and demand a subtle presentation. Larval bait falls into three basic categories: spikes, wax worms, and mealworms.
Spikes, also called maggots, are the larvae of various fly species, including the common housefly. They are white and typically less than ½ inch in length. Mealworms are the larger larvae of the darkling beetle. They are usually brownish in color and maybe a little over an inch in length. Wax worms, in many ways, are intermediate between the two. The larvae of the wax moth or bee moth wax worms are creamy white in color and between ¼ and 1 inch long.
Wax worms are quite probably the best larvae bait for ice fishing. However, many ice fishermen would argue with that statement, each having his or her own favorite bait. Wax worms are extremely enticing to most panfish species, particularly perch, sunfish, and bluegill. Crappies also readily strike wax worms, although they prefer small minnows in many situations.
How to Use Wax Worms for Ice Fishing?
Using wax worms for ice fishing is easy – all you need is a hook and some fishing line. Simply thread the worm onto the hook and drop it down the hole in the ice. The worm will slowly sink to the bottom, attracting fish. Be patient and wait for the fish to bite – when they do, be ready to reel in your catch!
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your wax worms:
- Keep them fresh – Wax worms are perishable, so keeping them fresh is essential. Store them in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them.
- Use the right hook – The size and type of hook you use will depend on the fish you’re targeting. Talk to your local bait and tackle shop to get the right advice.
- Keep your hook baited – It’s essential to keep your hook baited with fresh wax worms. Check your bait often and replace it if necessary.
- Experiment with different depths – Fish can be found at different depths, so it’s worth experimenting to see where they bite.
Wax worms can be fished through the ice on a plain hook – a # 6 baitholder hook below a float with a small split shot for weight is usually about right – but more often, they are used to accent ice jigs. This combination can be a key to ice fishing success; live bait and jigs both work reasonably well by themselves, but they excel when used together.
Small jigging spoons, teardrop jigs, and tube jigs are all great vehicles for delivering wax worms to panfish. The smallest jigs possible are usually the best because they allow the wax worms to wiggle around freely, which is a big part of their attractiveness. You can hook one or two into a jig, inserting the hook through one end to keep the bait alive.
Some fishermen also recommend hooking wax worms “T-bone style,” right through the middle. When ice fishing with wax worms, It’s also usually a good idea to keep the jigging motion you impart to the bait as subtle as possible to avoid spooking wary fish. Wax worms work at various depths and in any sort of cover, be it shallow vegetation or a rocky slope.
Keeping your bait alive and lively is important. Wax worms have to be kept above freezing, so a container small enough to fit in a jacket pocket is ideal. A small Styrofoam container or a tobacco tin with air holes punched through the lid is ideal. A little dry sawdust in the container helps keep the bait lively and comfortable until it’s time for them to get in the water.
Using wax worms for ice fishing is an effective way to catch more fish. These little critters are easy to use, affordable, and irresistible to many fish species. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful day on the ice. So grab your gear, bundle up, and head out to your favorite ice fishing spot – with wax worms in tow, you’ll reel in some big ones!