Stringing a worm on a hook is the essence of fishing simplicity. In fact, it almost seems too simple. That said, night crawlers remain some of the finest baits available for coaxing catfish into biting. They smell natural, because they are natural, and they seem to taste mighty good to catfish.
Generally speaking, the rule for night crawlers and catfish is, the bigger the better. Even small cats like big, juicy worms. It is generally a good idea to wad two or three on a hook if you only can find small or medium-sized worms. Unlike other species, catfish typically do not care how night crawlers are strung on the hook. They feed mostly by smell and taste, not by sight, so the more worm that is wrapped around and sewn onto the hook, the better your chances are of hooking cats that bite.
One very effective and often overlooked method for catfishing with worms is to suspend a worm beneath a float, hanging the bait barely off the bottom. This works really well when cats are holding around stumps, the bases of flooded trees or beside downed trees along the edges of rivers. The float allows you to present a bait precisely and move it around easily to locate cats that are using cover.
Night crawlers also work great when fished on the bottom with Carolina rigs, bounced just off the bottoms of tailwaters or other swift rivers with three-way rigs, or dragged across points or flats at night when the cats move shallow to feed.
Because they do not have to be cut up and are not quite as messy as livers or dip bait, night crawlers also make a terrific bait choice for trips with youngsters. Children quickly learn how to string worms on hooks so the bait will not come off. Also, cats tend to slurp in night crawlers, so hook-up ratios tend to be good.
Another great thing about night crawlers and other worms as baits to use during family catfish outings is that the children can dig their own worms, often from their own backyards and sometimes from the lakeshore when there's a break in the action. There is an indisputable extra pride that comes from catching a fish on a hand-dug worm -- somewhat akin to the pride of a fly-fisherman catching a fish on a hand-tied fly.