Almost everyone has dangled a worm from a hook at one time or another in hopes of catching a fish.
Arguably, worms are the best bait for catching the widest variety of fish in both fresh and salt water. No one knows for sure why. Maybe it's the smell, the reddish color or the wiggle. Regardless of the reason, worms catch fish.
Most freshwater anglers use earthworms, night crawlers and red-wigglers with great success. But savvy anglers are switching to bloodworms, found on the tidal mud flats of Maine and Canada.
Bloodworms are so effective that some call them the "ultimate fish bait." They have always been the bait of choice for saltwater fishermen who cast bottom rigs on the coast for winter flounder, weakfish, bluefish, perch, porgies and striped bass. Yes, particularly striped bass.
It's no wonder that someone eventually tried a couple of dozen bloodworms in Lake Norman to see whether they would tempt its landlocked population of striped bass. And guess what? Bloodworms catch stripers and just about every other fish that swims in the lake.
Anglers who use them brag about catching lots of pan fish, small catfish and even the ever-wary largemouth bass.
So why, you ask, don't more people fish with bloodworms?
First, they are available at only a few bait outlets around Lake Norman. They are also relatively expensive, about $1 each when sold by the dozen. You must take care when you put them on the hook; they can and will bite your fingers with the pincers inside their mouths.
Bloodworms are the preferred live bait when casting from the banks of either of Lake Norman's two "hot holes." They catch fish on bobber and bottom rigs anywhere there are fish.
Since it is believed that the smell of the bloodworm lures the fish, only a small piece is needed to catch white perch and small cats. Larger pieces or whole worms are used to attract stripers, bass and large catfish.
When bloodworms can't be found or are too expensive for your fishing budget, try one of the synthetic bloodworm baits sold by Fishbites and Berkley. The scent emitted as the artificial strip bait dissolves in the water is said to replicate that of a live bloodworm. It also stays on the hook better and often allows the angler to catch more than one fish per bait.
As mentioned previously, bloodworms are not always easy to find, but they can usually be purchased at the Terrell Bait Shop, N.C. 150, Terrell (828-478-2024), and at Beach's General Store, N.C. 73, Stanley (704-483-1053).
By the way, they aren't called bloodworms for nothing. They bleed a lot and make quite a mess when cut into pieces. Have water and towels near the cutting station for cleanup.
Suspended stripers, bass and white perch are being caught along the edges of the main river and major creek channels on both sides of the N.C. 150 bridge. White perch fishing has been exceptional; some anglers have reported catches exceeding 100 fish per boat. Anglers fishing for stripers are trolling umbrella rigs, deep jigging or drifting live baits.