Can You Use Earthworms For Sea Fishing?

We’ve used a lot of bait over the years, but earthworms are some of our favorites. While earthworms are super popular for freshwater fishing, they can actually be used in saltwater, too. Here’s everything we know about earthworms for sea fishing.

You can use earthworms for sea fishing, but they don’t last long in salt water. There are alternative worms that live in saltwater which in some instances are better to use than earthworms.

What Fish Can You Use Earthworms For?

Earthworms are often used in lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams to catch a variety of freshwater fish, but many sea fish will chomp on worms, too. Earthworms are best used for sea fish in shallow water close to the shore, but like any fishing adventure, you can always experiment and never know what may be on the other end of the line.

The most common fish to catch with earthworms include bass, trout, and perch. There are both freshwater and saltwater varieties, making earthworms a versatile fishing bait.

What Ocean Fish Can You Catch With Earthworms?

While it depends greatly on which coast you’re at and whether you cast a line from the beach or head out on the open water, there is plenty of ocean fish to catch. Some possible ocean fish you can reel in with earthworms include flounder, striped bass, weakfish, cod, pollock, fluke, mackerel, and halibut.

When ocean fishing with earthworms, the key is switching out worms regularly to ensure they are alive and make good bait. Remember, worms won’t last as long in the sea, so it’s best to keep an eye on them and make sure you give the fish something good to bite on.

What Kind of Worms Can You Use for Sea Fishing?

The great thing about fishing with worms is that they are affordable and easy to use. Plus, you can stock up on a bucket of worms and have plenty of bait to go around, without worrying that an overzealous fish will chomp down hard on your favorite lure.

Here are the most common earthworms to consider for your next ocean fishing trip, keeping in mind the water conditions and what fish you’re hoping to catch.


Nightcrawlers are readily available in most gardens and bait shops. They are some of the largest worms around, growing up to 14 inches long. The best way to fish with nightcrawlers is to cut them into a few pieces before attaching to the hook. Flounder, sea bass, weakfish, fluke, blackfish, and schoolie stripers are likely to bite on nightcrawlers.


Bloodworms are similar to nightcrawlers, although their highly transparent skin makes their blood visible and especially attractive to feeding fish. They can grow up to 12 inches long and are typically used as bait for perch, porgies, kingfish, bluefish, weakfish, and striped bass.


Lugworms, also known as sandworms, are a good option because they live in the intertidal area of sheltered bays, harbors, and beaches. You may even find some under the sand before you hit the water. They are smelly, juicy, and quite active as bait, making them one of the best baits for cod. Bass and flatfish can also be tempted by these thick, fleshy worms that grow to 9-12 inches.


Mealworms are attractive for summer sea fishing, and they are smaller than nightcrawlers, making them easier to present and keep stable on a hook. With a rigid skeleton, these durable worms can be hooked quickly and have an enticing scent to attract fish, plus a light color that helps with visibility. These inch-sized worms are ideal for trout, perch, bass, saltwater crappies, and sea catfish.


Waxworms are also good for sea fishing thanks to their meaty appearance and high fat content. They are active on the hook, helping to draw more fish in. While a single one-inch waxworm can work for small fish, most anglers opt for multiple waxworms on the same hook or attached to an artificial bait to offer a natural look. Their milky white color is appealing to trout, bass, catfish, whitefish, and panfish.

Are There Special Saltwater Worms?

Nightcrawlers, bloodworms, lugworms, mealworms, and waxworms are good for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. There are also a few worm varieties that live in saltwater environments like marshes and reefs, which may be tougher to find but make for awesome sea fishing.

Cinder Worms

Cinder worms are small mud-dwellers with red coloring and olive heads. These worms don’t get much longer than an inch and are found deep in Northeast Florida’s saltwater estuaries and along the eastern seaboard.

Striped bass and redfish love cinder worms, and if you catch one, you may find cinder worms already inside. During their spawning season, predator fish enjoy frenzied feasts, so if you can get your hands on a few cinder worms, you could see similar results.

Palolo Worms

Palolo worms are saltwater worms too, with a similar hatching schedule to cinder worms. You can find 1” to 2” red palolo worms near coral, and their heads are more tan in color compared to the olive heads on cinder worms.

If you’re eager to catch tarpon, palolo worms should trigger a big bite. These fish can be up to 150 pounds, and nothing gets them going like hatching palolo worms. Even just a few of these worms on a hook may capture the eye of Atlantic or Pacific tarpon.

Tips For Earthworm Sea Fishing

  • Attach a nightcrawler to a bucktail or similar bait to attract saltwater fish.

  • Consider clamworms like bloodworms or sandworms to attract rockfish, croakers, whiting, porgy, blackfish, and surf perch.

  • Cut worms into several segments and attach them to one hook to increase the chance of fish biting.

  • For the traditional hooking method, go back and forth with the hook, threading a single small worm to keep it stable with slight movement to attract fish.

  • For the end-to-end method, pierce the worm below the head and slide it along the hook curve before piercing the other end. You can catch multiple fish without switching the worm as it’s totally stuck to the hook and hard to get off.

  • For the free worm method, just pierce it once in the center. The worm can wiggle freely and looks very natural to fish, although keep in mind it’s easy to lose worms this way.

  • If you’re not having any luck with earthworms one day, consider switching things up with other sea fish bait like small fish, shrimp, crustaceans, and crabs.


You can use earthworms for sea fishing as well as freshwater fishing. Earthworms such as nightcrawlers, bloodworms, lugworms, mealworms, and waxworms are popular for ocean fishing. Next time you head out sea fishing with worms, you could hook flounder, striped bass, cod, or fluke, just to name a few.

Scroll to Top