Buying and Storing Live Sandworms and Bloodworms

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Buying and Storing Live Sandworms and Bloodworms

Dozen Sandworms
Sandworms and Bloodworms are the ubiquitous bait for a multitude of ocean gamefish. The following refers to harvested worms and not farmed worms. Sandworms “Nereis Succinea” are reddish brown marine worms that can exceed 10” in length when mature. They are free swimming scavengers which feed on algae and other smaller worms. They live in the estuary areas and are harvested in Maine. Sandworms are now farmed and are available at a premium price for those willing to pay the extra money. The consistency in size seems to be better and the shelf life the same.

Bloodworms “Glycera Dibranchiata” are also marine worms that burrow into the sand and mud in the flats of Maine. Bloodworms are generally smaller than sandworms, but more expensive. Their name comes from the huge amount of dark red fluid within their skin.

Both are used in the same way. They are perfect bait for striped bass, white perch and flounder. Bloodworms have a tougher skin and have a longer shelf life than sandworms, hence their higher price.

When you purchase either of these live baits from your bait shop, take a minute to look inside the cup or box. Most harvested worms are packaged in seaweed, however, some distributors are experimenting with ground newsprint & other worm bedding fillers such as wet sand. Your worms should move when touched or be active when you open the box.

Some sure signs of old or dying worms include:
  • Worms with their proboscis and pinchers extended but not moving.
  • Worms that have a bad, rotted smell unlike fresh salty ocean scent.
  • Worms whose bedding has an excess of fluids, stains and blood will not last long, even if they are alive.
  • Worms that have yellowish or very green hue without the requisite red and pink colors.
  • Worms whose bodies are broken and leaking fluid. Storage and handling of your live bait is easy when you do a few small things right. We regularly get over one week of storage from fresh worms.

    The red coloration of the Bloodworm is from a hemoglobin-like substance which allows them to live in water with very little oxygen.
    First, they must be refrigerated but protected from freezing. Some areas of your home refrigerator may be cold enough to damage the worms, so keep the boxes of worms in the refrigerator but not near where the cold air enters the box, or in any area that you’ve ever found frozen lettuce! Refrigerating the worms slows their metabolism and helps them last longer. One mistake I see frequently is that boxes of ocean worms are placed touching the bag of ice or frozen cut bait in anglers’ coolers. This is enough to kill some of your live bait.

    Next, the worms must be kept clean and moist. Moist. Not soaked, not dried out, but moist. Bloodworms do better in a slightly wetter environment than sandworms. Most boxes of worms you buy will have a newspaper liner a few pages thick and some seaweed. The newspapers, referred to as “diapers” should be changed every day, especially if soiled or soaked.

    There is no feeding associated with the marine worms. Just keep them cold, moist and clean and you should be able to store them for days and days for future use.

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