Anglers should be able to purchase nightcrawlers for Labor Day
weekend excursions, say state bait dealers. Recent rains in
southern Ontario should end a summer worm drought.
“There has been a very tough nightcrawler shortage for about
three weeks,” says Greg Fisher at Vado’s Bait in Blaine.
Nearly all the nightcrawlers sold in Minnesota originate in
southern Ontario. This summer, that region experienced a six week
drought. Nightcrawler production, which relies on pickers who
capture worms when they crawl out of their burrows after dark, came
to a standstill. With a short supply, wholesale prices for
nightcrawlers more than doubled.
“The prices went crazy,” says wholesaler Craig Keuten of Jim’s
Bait in Duluth. “The price of a flat (500 nightcrawlers) was
The situation became so tight that some bait shops ran out of
nightcrawlers and were unable to get more. Ron Meuwissen of Ken’s
Bait in Chaska said he received calls from people in northern
Minnesota who were trying to track down some nightcrawlers. The
shortage occurred at a time of high demand many anglers buy large
supplies of nightcrawlers for their Canadian fishing vacations.
Even when worms return, retail prices may remain high until
supply adjusts to demand. And while Minnesota bait wholesalers are
hopeful that Ontario received enough rain to resume nightcrawler
production, they were still waiting for orders to be delivered.
“Until the bait is in our cooler, there is still a shortage,”
Earlier in the fishing season, bait dealers coped with a short
supply of minnows. Due to unusually hot summer weather, leech
production is below par.
“This year was terrible for bait dealers,” Keuten says. “People
don’t realize everything that goes into getting bait to the