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Do Fish Really Like Eating Earthworms?


Do Fish Really Like Eating Earthworms? Worms, or more specifically earthworms which
are by far what most people mean when they use the term “worms” in the fishing scenario,
don’t live in water. In fact, the reason you see so many on the ground during heavy
rains is because, when stuck in soil that is too wet, they can’t breathe properly
and must come up for air, despite the extreme risks to their lives in doing so. You see,
while earthworms don’t have lungs, they do need oxygen and acquire it through their
skin. During heavy rains, the high water content of the soil doesn’t allow gases to diffuse
across their skin. Thus, they must brave the surface world or die. Back to fish: if you went to a random lake
somewhere in the world, the odds that the fish living there have encountered an earthworm
are pretty small. Sure, storms are bound to wash some worms into lakes and ponds every
now and again and there are fisherman who catch and release that use worms as bait (though
one would think this would make a fish less likely to want to eat a worm), but for the
most part, earthworms aren’t something fish ever encounter naturally. So why is this the
go-to bait used to catch a fish? As it turns out, while it’s true fish are
unlikely to encounter an earthworm in their lifetime, they are quite likely to encounter
something that sort of looks like one. Further, many fish really aren’t that picky about
what they eat. For example, a catfish will happily eat dead bugs, plants, snails, fish
eggs and even other fish; more pertinently, they will also eat things like leeches and
insect larvae, both of which you could argue look kind of like earthworms. Catfish will
also eat things like aquatic worms, which are somewhat similar to earthworms, though
are their own distinct species. All that said, with bait, you don’t want
to present just any old food source, you want to present the preferred food source of the
thing you’re trying to catch. And, as any experienced fisherman will tell you, fish
are mostly attracted to bait for two reasons: smell and movement, with different fish being
more attracted to some baits than others. For example, ocean dwelling fish (or at least
the ocean dwelling fish people commonly want to catch) mostly feed on smaller fish or carrion.
As such, cut bait (cut up pieces of fish) is usually recommended because the scent of
blood (generally) carries better through the ocean and will get you a better response than
movement. In lakes and ponds, however, where the main
diet of fish is a little more varied, your options for bait are a bit more open. For
example, fish in lakes are just as happy to eat insects that fall into the water as they
are to eat bits of dead plant. So you can happily fish using things like crickets, bees
and even bread if you really want to. You can even buy special paste that you can rub
on bait and lures to make them smell more delicious to certain species of fish. You
can also forgo bait entirely and just use lures that look like bait and jiggle around
in the water, or find lures that are designed to skip along the surface of the water and
catch fish by tricking them into thinking they’re a small insect or something. With all this in mind, you might be inclined
to think that it’s not that fish like earthworms inherently, it’s more that they’ll eat
anything and earthworms are a good all round substitute because, before they succumb to
suffocation in the water, they wiggle around a lot (perhaps even more so because they’re
suffocating and, of course, have a hook jammed through the body). Fish love movement and,
anecdotally, most fisherman will tell you you’ll catch a lot more fish with a live
worm than a dead one. So this seems reasonable enough. And, who knows, perhaps the fish even
like the scent. That said, it turns out, neither of those
things seem necessary, at least with bass, though much more research needs done to determine
this more definitively. You see, in an experiment conducted by the Berkley Fish Research Center,
bass that had literally never seen a worm, or anything that looked like a worm (or any
other prey for that matter) in their entire lives were put into special tanks where researchers
dangled bits of plastic that looked like the food they had been given all their lives.
The response was lackluster. The fish just weren’t that interested in plastic versions
of their normal food. The researchers then dangled plastic that
looked like a worm. To the researchers’ surprise, the bass reacted very strongly to
lures shaped like worms. And here’s the most interesting part, they did so even when
the worm-shaped plastic was completely still. In the end, it was discovered that the bass
were a whopping 10 times more likely to try to eat plastic lures shaped like worms over
the plastic lures shaped like their normal food. The researchers couldn’t come up with a
reason to explain this behaviour, especially considered the fish still loved the worm-shaped,
scentless, plastic when it was motionless. Was it because they are just naturally curious,
seeing a completely new object and having the built in reflex to see if it’s edible?
Was it because it’s hard-wired into their brains for some reason to want to eat worm-shaped
objects? Who knows? It remains an interesting footnote until more research is done. This
also brings up the question of whether the same thing carries over to other fish. We
don’t know. But at least one type of fish really do seem to like things that look like
earthworms.

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Comments
  • i know you're obviously not a fisherman but i think you could've spent just a little more time on research. stuff like what species of bass was tested?

  • As crazy as it sounds, using the veins of a dead leaf (peel away the excess so you just have the grouping of veins) on a hook actually works pretty well too. Just be sure that the weight of the hook exceeds the weight of the leaf or it won't sink.

  • When I was young I caught a very small rock bass off a dock on vacation and kept it in an aquarium for a number of years. I could not get it to eat flake fish food, but it loved live food. Minnows, bugs, but the vast majority of its diet consisted of earthworms I dug up from my mother's garden (she was not happy when she eventually found out where I was getting all my worms from). He grew quite large, and loved worms so much so that I had trained him to jump out of the water and grab them from my hand. Sadly this led to his death as he eventually leapt out of the aquarium. When I was cleaning out his aquarium (at least 8 or 9 days after he died because 8y old kids tend to procrastinate) I found a perfectly fine live worm living in the substrate. How he was still alive after all that time underwater I have no idea, but it was perfectly fine, not soggy or dead, wriggling around like crazy.

  • I've used worms to catch tons of catfish, bluegills, a couple bass. Why do you think they sell them at bait stores? Meal worms and synthetic baits are a bit more hit and miss, cicadas and beetles are worthless, and chicken liver never fails to grab a few cats. Minnows have caught me jack shit over about a half dozen attempts, and it always seemed kinda mean anyway.

  • I always wondered why fish, water dwelling creatures, would naturally eat worms, which live in the ground on dry land.

  • It's simple to find out, in that experiment they should have introduced other things that were new to the fish.
    If they reacted the same way as with the fake worm, than ok, it's probably just interest in something new.

    If they didn't, or if they paid less attention to it, than you know it's worm shaped objects that they are specially drawn to.

  • All fish wants to eat the dangling things. That's why your grandma will tell you not to dangle your finger on the surface of water or risk the fish (arowana in my case) mistaking it as food. That's also why men shouldn't skinny dip in open waters.

  • I found out, about 65 years ago that fish do indeed enjoy eating worms whilst catching a limit of lake perch.

  • Bro, fish comonly eat earthworms in the wild, as they frequently get washed in. Anyone who's ever owned and aquarium, can tell you that fish love worms.

  • This is bull, I don't know where you got your information from. But worms can live submerged underwater for several weeks. And the chance that a fish has encountered one before is likely.

  • I have been keeping and breeding fish almost all my life and I also do a lot of fishing and here is my personal research and observations.

    Ok…. So I had thought about this topic alot. And having my own plastic inground pond with no fish in it. I can tell you for sure that almost every morning there is atlest 1 or 2 live earthowrms in there trying to escape. This is because the eat and drink in the night and while doing so worms fall in the pond and since they cant swim they get eaten by fish in the morning.

    So to say that fish never encounter earthowrms in nature is wrong.

    Also to explain why fish like worm shaped objects, it is because while growing up freshwater fish eat a lot of blood worms and mosquito larvae which just look like tiny worms.

    Also mostly all fish only eat things that are smaller than their mouths. Worms are cylindrical which attracts fish as they can eat a larger meal. You can see this if you feed goldfish worms. They will hold on to the worm as it will fit in their mouths and then slowly eat the worm over time.

  • this guy does NOT fish at all…worms, insects, larvae, beetles, and minnows are everything that fish eat. worms and night crawlers are the best for most species of fresh water species. raw bacon, raw chicken, and chicken parts like chicken livers and gizzards work Very well for fresh and salt water… he needs to put on a snorkel and look closely to what is in the water where the fish live… he has NO clue.

  • for trout in rivers cast directly behind big boulders with 1cm ×1cm cube of the sharpest cheddar money every time

  • Ummm Earthworms can breathe underwater. They go up to air when it rains so they don't get stuck in mud which they CAN'T breathe in.

  • Some fish like the Flathead catfish will only eat worms certain times of the year like before the spawn. I have been to the river where everyone using live bait like perch and goldfish are not catching any Flatheads at all and everyone using worms were catching several Flatheads.

  • without watching the video I assume fish eat bait worms cause its 'food' to them, taste has nothing to do with it. Worms are the easiest / cheap bait to cultivate hence worms are popular fishing bait.

    Can a fish taste?

  • Most sport fish are predators, Predators seek entrails, which are the softest part of a kill.
    As a fish, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between a worm and some guts.
    Fish don't usually encounter corn either, but kernels look like eggs so they chow down. An absolute favourite of aquarium fish are peas! However, peas are no good on a hook and are too messy to be a staple in a tank.

  • I don't have any proof, but I'm pretty darn sure trout eat worms in the wild on a regular basis. Worms and nightcrawlers don't live in the water, but when it rains out they come out of the ground to the surface. Then they get washed into a brook or stream. Probably why worms work better on brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout in particular since they live in fast water, where a big part of their diet is bugs and insects (including worms) that they let the fast water bring to them. Thats my theory anyways.

  • Simon, I love your videos but could you turn up the pickups on your Mike? I'm having difficulties hearing your without near silence in the room.

  • Your stuff is interesting, but can you stop flapping your arms. You look like a bird and distract from your information.

  • The same strange behavior happen when I do the helicopter dick in front of my gf.
    Helicopter dick doesn't exist in nature. 🤔
    Nature works in a mysterious way.

  • so…..with all the fish being thrown back, "catch and release", it won't be many years untill they evolve a notion to not grab anything tied to a string…..lmbo.

  • No shit they eat worms bugs or even a dead body😜💡

    You dipshit when it rains or floods worms enter water and fishing is terrible because they are not hungry.

  • wasn't interesting, and didn't inform me of anything new I didn't already know about fish, Bass in particular. Bass react to movement and anything that might threaten there nests.

  • I have personally seen thousands of worms drifting down creeks near my home after heavy rain. So, to say it is unlikely that a fish would encounter a worm is wrong.

  • A lot of bad facts about worms. Worms come up when it rains because they can survive without drying up and mate. What if we could breathe under water for a few hours after it rains and "mate" as much as you wanted. Millions of people would flock to rivers lakes and oceans every time it rained. Even if it were dangerous.

  • most man made lakes; even lots of natural; don't have enough food, especially when they stock thousands of juveniles all at once.
    In a proper ecosystem fish wont bite on "worms" which is usually night crawlers not earth worms.
    Bass(especially large mouth) are inquisitive and will hit anything the first time they see it so they know if its a viable food source.
    -master angler for at least 7 species

  • Wow Fascinating….. Great now I have to put my worms back in the garden.  I can't fish with them now.  But I have plenty of plastic worms…..  thank you loved this video I think I will play it again…..

  • there are TONS of worms that live in the bottom of lake and ponds, even some dirty fishtanks… worm are a fishes primary diet

  • Earthworms can survive for a while in water, so they don't come out during the rain for air. They basically come out just because they can, since it feels moist and dark.

  • well one fish that is very picky and will for sure see a worm in its lifetime is any species of stream or river dwelling trout they love worms

  • Answer: they're strangely attracted to worm shaped things.
    Conclusion: skinny dipping as a male is dangerous

  • Scishow just pointed out that it's only theorized that Earthworms surface because they struggle to breathe during a downpour. Just sayin'.

  • bonus fact: in the southern US it is common for boys to catch earthworms for fishing and a colloquialism for fishing is dubbed "drowning worms".

  • I'm not an animal activist by any means. I love to fish and have mostly used earthworms lol but damn this is morbid towards the poor worms haha

  • having fished for years using earth worms…….i can say for certainty that yes…they do love eating earthworms…

  • Of course they do. Why would anyone use them for bait, or is it a reaction strike? Maybe they think the worm is another fish and it's trying to scare it off. I mean I caught bass on worms. I catch bluegill to catch catfish on worms. I have caught catfish on worms. Wallet on worms. A small pike ate one of my works when I was fishing for perch for bait for pike or walleye. I caught a few walleye on worms. I caught perch on worm bits. I even caught a crappie, just one, on a worm because I ran out of minnows. So I would say yes, they do like worms.

  • I attend a boarding school for musicians. One day we were sitting out on the grass and one of my friends (a drummer) began drumming on the ground. After a while a bunch of worms started coming out of the ground. That is how I figured out why birds do that little dance on the grass lmao

  • when it rains they wash in to the rivers, i catch lots of trout with worms in there gut, after a rain the best bait is a worm, thats what they will be feeding on

  • I have excellent luck with red licorice shoelace candy. The rainbow trout in my area are highly attracted to it. This used to annoy my fishing partner no end, as he was a purist and only used dry and wet flies. I always caught many more fish than he did. 😋

  • I have been wanting to ask, can you do a video on animals that can survive by cutting them in half? I know earth worms, if you cut them in half, the will both grow. I also know this is the case for star fish (there is an interesting story from Japan on this). all you need to do, is find 8 more :).

  • Would you rather eat an earthworm or some freshly picked boogers? Not a very appetizing choice is it? And yet some doctors claim eating your boogers actually boosts your immune system, find out what the heck they're talking about here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7_tIc-FZF4

  • It's an old fishing cliché for a reason, it works! Personally I've always had better results fishing with live bait over most synthetics.

  • as a kid i thought earthworms come out of soil because they love water and i kept throwing them into puddles, little did i know i just drowned them all instead of saving.

  • I feed my Crawfish, Cichlids, and Goldfish worms as an occasional treat and they love them. It should be noted that only the Crawfish is wild caught from a widely fished pond, and the actual fish were all captive bred and had never encountered a worm in their lives until they were well into adulthood.

  • I tried giving earthworms to several species of my aquarium fish for the first time and they all went crazy on them, so I think yeah fish do like earthworms

  • I have 7 fish tanks and a pond. I keep freshwater fish from Asia, Australia, Africa and Amazonia and every single one of them love their worms. They eat them with gusto. Fish do come in contact with worms due to seasonal flooding and Koi carp ravage river banks digging for them. So do fish really like eating worms? yep.

  • the beginning of this is incredibly wrong, earth worms can breathe fine in watery soil and are often found eating dead things at the bottoms of ponds. they come out in rain storms because they can feed without worry of drying up

  • Actually, right after it rains is the worst time for freshwater fishing, especially if you use nightcrawlers/ earth worms because you end up with worms washed into the lake, pond, river, or whatever other freshwater source you're fishing at and the fish will eat them. It's better to wait one or two days after a storm so the fish will more than likely bite.

  • fish react to smell, movement and "sound". for example in water there'r many small fish but why big fish dont eat it all, but when we catch it(small one) and make it as bait, big fish eat it, why? its sound the fish make when it in "pain", i think it cry or say "auch! so pain!" then the big fish see and eat it to save it from pain hahahaha

  • Regarding bass (especially largemouth), it's also worth noting that a fisherman once was quite successful using a Batman action figure as a lure.

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