The Ultimate Bait

By Dave Duwe - June 1, 2006
The average angler has probably $2000-$5000 worth of fishing tackle. Is all that tackle worth the money? I think not. I have been fishing for over 35 years and guiding for 13 years, trust me I have more than my fair share of tackle and equipment, but I would have to say that out of all the tackle I have, the best bait is the tried and true nightcrawler! Those very easy to come by bait - for any kid with a flashlight and a wet yard, the biggest concern among these kids is not finding them but rather avoiding the mosquito bites while searching.

When I started guiding, years ago, I was an artificial bait guy; jigs, plastic worms, spinnerbaits, etc. Oh, I caught fish, sometimes a lot of them. My customers who only fished a couple of times a year had fun, however we could have caught double or triple the fish if we would have used the bait from the good earth.

In the lakes I fish most, like Lake Geneva and Delavan Lake, I have found that live bait is the only way to go. You can catch almost every fish that swims and I have (Exception: Lake Trout). The presentation is very basic and every angler can figure it out within a couple a minutes. With a basic presentation, one can concentrate on catching fish. I prefer the split shot rig. It is a single hook and split shot positioned about 18-24 inches above the hook. I use a small Kahle hook (size 12) and a 3/0 round split shot for shallow water. The key to the rig is the round shot, the removable split shot gets hung up on the weeds. The smaller hook enables you to catch a variety of fish from bluegills to walleyes, or even the occasional northern pike.

With my customers busy catching fish I can concentrate on my main job, the boat control and not trying to over think the multitudes of different presentations that would or could be working at that time.


The split shot rig can be electric motor trolled or drifted with similar success. Night crawler fishing is different than artificial fishing because you can't set the hook right away. You must let the fish eat it, it's a natural bait and doesn't involve tricking the fish or getting a reaction strike.

Put your pride aside and bring your fishing back to the basics, it might surprise you how many more fish you will catch using the nightcrawler; The Ultimate Bait.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .