For those people who think they would like to give the sport of angling a try, particularly coarse fishing, the multitudinous variety of available baits must be totally bewildering. There are boilies, pellets, sweetcorn and pastes of every conceivable flavour, bread, cheese, tiger nuts, macaroni, shrimps, prawns, maggots, wasp grubs etc. etc. – the list is endless! To simplify things for the beginner, I would point out that very few fish that swim would think twice about greedily gobbling up a worm.
Worms are universal; they’re fairly easy to obtain, simple to use, and can be devastatingly effective. Even with worms there are different varieties. You have lug worms and rag worms in saltwater, which can be deadly when shore fishing, for almost any species you can name. Meanwhile inland you’ll find lobworms (as found in your garden), and their smaller cousins the redworms and brandlings.
If you have fields of horses anywhere near where you live, their owners are usually fastidious in collecting the droppings and wheel-barrowing them to large piles in the corner of the field. Very few of these folks would object to you digging tidily in the heaps, and in no time you should find plenty of worms for a fishing outing. It may sound rather unpleasant but it’s not all that bad and the red worms and brandlings seem to love such places. And of course what’s most important is the fact that the fish don’t seem to mind one bit!
Lobworms can be dug up from your garden, although that can be hard work! Some may not know this, but there’s a neat trick for collecting lobworms that doesn’t involve any digging whatsoever. Step one if to wait for a good rain storm, ideally one afternoon. Step two, after dark, is to head out into the garden, or a nearby playing field where the grass is kept short, with a bucket and a torch. Following the storm, lobworms will come up, crawl out of their holes and lay across the surface of the grass. Whether they’re escaping the rainwater, or coming up to find a mate, the fact is that, with a flashlight or head-torch, it can become quite a sport in itself creeping round and snatching them up. You need a warm, still night. Any wind and the worms won’t appear and the later after dusk you try, the better. Don’t be fooled by the worms’ apparent immobility – you must be fairly quick to catch them, as they waste no time in going back down their holes if they sense vibrations or too much light.
If this sounds like too much effort, worry not. Worms are invariably available from your local tackle shop. Simply hook one on, toss them where the fish are waiting and bang. They’re as effective in freshwater as they are in the sea, and you can catch almost any species you can think of – like the chub, this 2lb 5oz roach, 11lb 12oz bream and the nice catch of tench you see in the photos. If you want to go the extra mile, it can sometimes pay to mix a few chopped worms in with your groundbait (simply chop them into one-inch lengths with scissors, if you’re not too squeamish). It’s a little tip that might make all the difference to your catch.
To some this may all seem obvious but my guess is that, if you only fished worms, to the exclusion of all other baits, you would almost certainly catch your share. Why not give it a try?