In lowland rivers and streams during winter or
early spring, when the rivers are rising and
discoloured, the 'glob-worm' (two of three worms
on a hook) is often used with great success. The
aim is to encounter the fish at the time they are
gorging themselves on the food the flood holds,
the next day or two may be too late. Actively a
worm can be cast upstream and allowed to trundle
down quieter eddies or places where the force of
the torrent is broken by obstacles. Fish find
sanctuary in these areas or pockets where they
can reside easily and wait for food. Less strenuously,
a worm can simply be set in backwaters or along flooded
edges of grass or it can be fished from an undercut
overhanging bank. Any likely spot suits.
When rivers are severely in flood, trout seek out
the quieter backwaters preferring to find and feed
on earthworms and other terrestrial creatures washed
into the rising water. Even in backwaters the current
can be strong and it may be necessary to use a
running sinker so as to hold bottom. In lakes
worms are often fished near weed beds. Basically
the worm is a very versatile bait, one that is
arguably used by the majority of freshwater anglers
Dirty water restricts the trout's vision so food
is detected by using smell and vibrations. Remember,
vibrations such as heavy footsteps can also be
detected so always tread softly. Some of the
advantages of fishing dirty water are; the trout
can't see the angler and thicker stronger line can
be used. In any form of worm fishing never use
'Tiger worms.' Trout seem to intensely dislike
those striped worms that are commonly found in
popular compost heaps.
In the clear low summer waters, river trout go a bit
quiet during what is sometimes called 'the dog days
of summer', the warmest months of the year. At this
time, trout become much more discerning, rejecting
the offer of the 'glob-worm.' Nevertheless, in summer
when earthworms are deep down in the ground and anglers
as well as trout find them hard to come across - for
some curious reason, much like us humans longing for
something we can't have, trout often develop a fancy
for worms when presented in a natural manner. Because
the water is clear, some stalking and casting skills
are necessary. The trout are sight hunting but also
they are guided by their sense of smell, insisting on
an authentic looking and smelling food.
The most rewarding time for worming is at sunrise if
the weather is fine and mild. In those first few hours,
all trout seem to be on the lookout for food. If worms
can be found, purchased or farmed, good trouting can
be had throughout the day, no matter what the weather.
Summer 'worming' is similar to the fly-fishing technique
of 'nymphing.' Using light thread-line tackle with a
single worm without a sinker (sometimes a split shot),
the worm is cast upstream and allowed to trundle back
downstream in natural looking manner. As the worm comes
downstream the rod tip is slowly raised. If a fish takes
the worm you often see the line move. Timing of the
strike is not critical, after all it's a real worm
and the fish won't spit it out - rejecting it like
an artificial fly. After two or three casts to likely
drifts the angler stalks further upstream repeating
the process by random casting, but much more heart-pounding
worming can be had when actually casting to a sighted fish.
It is important to cast a suitable distance upstream so
the worm reaches the trout at the correct depth. This
also reduces the possibility of spooking the fish.
Repeated casting, whilst trying not to jerk the bait
gradually rips the worm from the hook. To prevent this
to some extent, packing them in damp moss toughens the
worm skins, even so, a good supply is always required.
In a container previously lined with well washed moss,
place freshly obtained worms in layers. Between each
layer of worms add plenty of loose moss. For best results
the moss should not be too damp. Inspect every few days
removing any sickly looking worms; they will always be
found at the top of the moss. Depending on worm species,
it may take from two days to about a week to toughen
Another alternative method mentioned by Mr. Blain in
his Encyclopaedia of Rural Sports advises
a plan of soaking a clean coarse hempen (old sugar bags
etc.) or linen cloth in hot water in which mutton fat
has been boiled. When cold, the cloth is put over a tub,
then the worms and fresh decaying plant matter are added.
Over the top is tied a linen cloth to allow air to
circulate. When kept in a cool environment the worms
will scour, staying lively and fit for months.
In days of yore, a worm was always impaled on a single
hook until a Mr. W.C. Stewart proclaimed a better way.
Stewart reasoned, by using three little hooks one
above the other with a small spaces in between he
could produce a more natural looking worm, therefore
rendering the trout less suspicious. This three-hook
set-up went on to be called 'Stewart Tackle.' A few
generations after Stewart's innovation a Mr. Cholmondeley
Pennell asked himself, "Would not two hooks suffice?"
Hence the 'Pennell Tackle' became fashionable. In both
these tackles, a worm is hitched on leaving the head
and tail loose so as to wriggle and attract trout.
Using Stewart tackle or Pennell tackle the worm is
forced to assume a more natural poise. Today we can
even use worm coloured hooks. To some extent, using
two or three hook tackle reduces the tendency of the
worm tearing. When the worm gets broken or soft and
dead looking; it should be replaced with a fresh one.
In clear water trout may become wary of such bait,
leaving it well alone.
Clear water worming is an art, and an art my friend
well worth learning; once mastered, this method can
take trout in very low waters and in bright sunshine
where many other forms of fishing produce next to
nothing. Over time using this method, the clear water
wormer learns much about the habits and ways of river
trout. All in all, the areas where casts are made
depend more on instinct and experience. Once proficient,
he or she can sum up a piece of water at a glance and
stealthily drop a worm upstream of places where the
best trout are hopefully holding station.
If regular worms are difficult to obtain or unavailable,
this is one that I use.
~ Alan Shepherd