There are several methods for getting Nightcrawlers to come out of the ground, but most are harmful to the worms. The two methods explained here are non-harmful and will keep your Nightcrawlers alive much longer.
Good Oh Mother Nature
The best method for finding and catching Nightcrawlers is by letting Mother Nature do the work for you. On days that it rains, head outside one hour after dark, they should be out.
Places To Search
Your lawn will be the most common place to find them, but check out the sidewalks and paved roads first as they may be there as well and much easier to grab.
Finding Them In The Lawn
If you’re searching in the lawn they will be harder to see and grab, but you should be able to get multiple dozens in just a short time. The biggest obstacle you will find is; 90% of the Nightcralwers will not come fully out of their burrows, making it harder to get them without breaking them.
Tip: grab the Nightcrawler as close to the tail as you can and pull them gently out of the ground. In many cases you will need to apply some pull force, but not too much you don’t want to break them. If they seem to be stuck in their burrow then continue applying a small amount of pull, wait for them to relax, then add a little more pull force, eventually they will come out. If you break them in half, leave them as there are many more and you don’t want to have Nightcralwers dying in your container before you are able to use them.
Simulating Mother Nature
The next best way to get Nightcrawlers is to simulate it raining. This is very useful if you are heading on a fishing adventure and there is no rain in the forecast before your trip.
Start by marking off a section of your lawn to soak with water, for this I will lay the water hose itself to make a border around this section and before watering. Now when you are in the dark with a flashlight you can easily see the boundary of your soaked lawn and where the Nightcrawlers will be.
Next, one hour before dark give your marked off section a good soaking. I do this right from the hose with no spray nasal attached. Now wait at least one hour after dark before you head out to collect your Nightcrawlers. With this method you have two obstacles, the one mentioned above with the Nightcrawlers not being all the way out of their burrows and vibrations, which makes things tougher. Let me explain, since it’s not raining the Nightcrawlers are on high alert, especially for vibrations. So it will be easier for the Nightcrawlers to pick up your walking, sounds, and the light off your flashlight. If they do they are gone, disappearing right before your eyes.
Tip: put a sprinkler on the area you have soaked to simulate rain. You can have the water turned down so it’s more like a soft rain then a downpour. This will create a lot of vibrations and sound, suppressing your noise/vibrations and making it much easier for you to approach the Nightcrawlers and grab them.