Leeches are fish-catching magnets

Leeches are the most plentiful of all the baits.
It seems they are natural to all bodies of water, including creeks, rivers, and lakes. And they can be left in a container of water for a long time without food.
Walleyes love leeches almost all year round, and they are classified as a universal bait for walleyes.
Leeches inhabit lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams throughout most of North America. All have sucking disks at both ends, with the mouth located in the smaller disk at the head end.
Leeches use the larger disk on the tail only for clinging to objects.
Most leeches eat dead animals although some species, such as the horse leech, digest the skin of live animals and feed on the tissue.
A few kinds, such as the medicine leech, are called bloodsuckers. They have jaws which actually cut through skin to reach blood vessels and tissue.
Not all kinds of leeches attract fish. For instance, most gamefish ignore horse leeches. Either the scent of the horse leech repels fish, or it lacks the action of bait leeches.
Fish eat many types of leeches but only the ribbon leech is widely used as bait although a few anglers have found tiger leeches to be good panfish bait.
A ribbon leech has a firmer body than a horse leech, and body situations or grooves that are less pronounced. The colour of a ribbon leeches varies from pure black to light brown. Some have a brown or olive background, with many black spots.
Leeches are easy to keep alive. They are not as sensitive to temperature changes as minnows, and they require relatively little oxygen. Leeches can be kept alive until fall–even without food–but they should be allowed to clean themselves.
Leeches that develop a slime are in need of a place to clean themselves. Leeches that are held in stagnant water over long periods of time need to rid themselves of waste (if they were in a stream or pond, they would burrow into the sand to clean themselves).
Many anglers leave their leeches in a plastic container in the refrigerator and find them in a slimy, smelly mess.
Finally, fishing with leeches is made easy with a new device from JNB Originals–the “Leech Tamer.” This is a durable net bag that is porous and rough to the touch. It has a Velcro closure at the top and, best of all, it floats in your livewell or baitwell.
Leeches have a place to rub against to clean themselves and they stay the same temperature as the water. As such, the leech will not curl up due to temperature shock, making selection easier.
The Leech Tamer can be stored in your refrigerator with a small pail or bowl of water, or tied off the dock.
Summer is the best time to fish with leeches because their population is on the decline. By mid-summer, most of the adult leeches have deposited cocoons and die off. When the leech enters the walleye’s environment, they are usually attacked.
Also, the leech will wiggle more below a bobber than a worm in the summer time. When drifting or trolling, anglers will catch suspended walleyes on floating jigheads and slip sinker rigs.
Leeches can be below a float or on a Roach Rig, or tipped on the end of a Buckshot Rattlin’ Jig. But all in all, they are fish-catching magnets and I never leave home without them.
Give them a try and you will always have some natural bait when you hit the water this summer.

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