How do Salmon find the Worm in Dirty Water?

Greatwhite

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So do I.

Had 2 in quick succession last year on the bait in brown water. I had the Fly Rod with me so set it up to fish on instead of going home after only starting.. Hopeless fly conditions or so I thought, couldn't beieve it when I started hooking them again... bloody barbless singles I'd have had a bag full:D:p:p I wasn't even fishing that big about an 8 or a 6.

You get that fly on the lie and keep it there long enough a fish will see it and just might take it no matter the water colour. The hard bit is finding the lie for the conditions your fishing.

Porkys ;);) you can't get them when it's clean ha ha ;)
 
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Greatwhite

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Here is a fly that I hooked 3 fish on, in a couple of hours, last season in big dirty water. I tied this fly for this years March fly swap:



I was only fishing a size 6 that day too on a 15ft sinking tip. Faughan was over 3 foot that day.

Porkys :D nice fly JS will copy that for brown water cheers;)
 
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Fall prince

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Seeing in Dirty Water

Have a look at 2 posts on Just One Week to get a better handle on how and what salmon see.
Windows on the World - this looks at the physics of underwater visibility
Here's Looking at You - this examines the operation of the salmon's eye in more detail.
I'll be putting up a post in a few weeks on how they focus on objects and the effect of the short focal length of their eyes on depth of field.
But as someone else pointed out earlier, if you get it close enough even in Brown Windsor Soup, it may get taken.
I haven't studied the salmon's sense of smell yet, apart from its use in relation to sex and breeding (both male and female fish discharge substantial quantities of hormones through their urine that increase as the season progresses. In fresh water they have to urinate to maintain fluid balance owing to the osmosis of less dense water into their systems which are conditioned for salt). Recent Norwegian research suggests that the role of smell is less significant in navigation than we had previously assumed.

Michael

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Fantastic reply!
 

Fall prince

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Dirty Water


We know from the structure of the salmon's retina that it can detect and separate red, blue and yellow/green light. What we don't know is whether it has the capability to integrate those three colours into a full colour view within the relevant part of its brain. Technically those 3 are sufficient to form technicolour - it's what your computer printer does for the human eye by arranging the various colours in close proximity in varying proportions. We just don't know enough about its brain to reach a conclusion beyond noting that the water absorbs so much 'colour' that full integration might be an unnecessary capability in evolutionary terms.
In contrast, for example, we know that some breeds of birds and deer are bi-chromatic with limited integration leading to them 'seeing' a sort of red-greyscale world. The effect of this is evident in the hi-vis clothing worn by hunters in US and Germany, which catches the human eye but comes out dull and neutral to the deer.
The holographic strip would reflect the available light at depth and potentially catch the salmon's eye. There is also holographic material incorporated in many fly designs nowadays for the same purpose.

Michael
Wow
 

Andrew B

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Such a fascinating subject about fish taking a worm or indeed a fly in big dirty spates?
I’ve often wondered about this myself as I would see the fisherman on the beautiful river Ogwen in Wales come out in their droves when to me the whole place just looked unfishable.
One old member let me spend some time as he fished the worm so skilfully. He had such a knowledge of the lies in big water and many fish on the worm were taken over the actual grass of the field/banking where there is respite from the torrent and even in the dirtiest of spates theirs often some visibility over the grass, albeit the salmon are invisible.

I just didn’t have the knack for it and still maintain that there’s a load of skill at play for those who fish the worm well.
Only time I caught a salmon on the worm and it felt like a fluke, was in big dirty water on the Teifi where I literally just cast the bait out to fish in the numpty way of fishing a static worm, and no sooner had I put the rod down I got the solid dunk dunk I’d been told about? As instructed I waited for the fish to take line which inevitably ends up deep hooking and twenty minutes later I had an October sea liced salmon like a springer and I reckon I would of had more had I carried on but at near 20lbs I was happy.
Long story but that was taken in a deep pool that I know was stacked with fish when the spate dropped for the fly anglers were actually saying their was too many taking short.
I’ve seen other angler fishing a static worm in a big dirty spate and after an hour they get a take which the angler suggested a fish had just turned up in the lie he was fishing, but as to how they find the bait is beyond me?

That said it’s worth noting that in the Salmons natural feeding habitat the sea. Just think how muddy in appearance the North Sea is, where visibility must be similar to that of a dirty brown spate?
 

keirstream

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I used to fish the worm a lot several years ago.
In normal conditions it is like any other lure, get it close enough and induce a take.
Key is knowing where to look for a resting fish.
In high, dirty waters, normal lies are vacated, fish move closer to banks off the main flow in an effort to avoid
the worst of the silt and debris, so short searching casts close in become the order of the day, right under overhanging banks or even into cattle drinking areas.
In those situations, the worms find the fish, not the other way around.
I.M.O. of course.:D
 

Andrew B

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There in lies the skill imo? All I ever did was snag the bottom.
Just like with Carp fishing where they cast a lead and feel for patches of gravel (could never do that either lol) the guys I watched had such a feel for what was going on but it was all based on knowledge of the river at various heights.

The Ogwen is one of the steepest rivers so worming is the norm. I’ve also seen em fishing in conditions I would of thought too low for salmon? And yet I’ve even stood next to one who told me he would take a fish out of a small frothy oxygenated lie and minutes later he had a grilse on the bank.
I’m pretty sure bunches of Lobs aren’t allowed anymore so those incredible anglers on the Ogwen which is primarily a salmon river, Will now be gone.
 

Andrew B

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I used to fish the worm a lot several years ago.
In normal conditions it is like any other lure, get it close enough and induce a take.
Key is knowing where to look for a resting fish.
In high, dirty waters, normal lies are vacated, fish move closer to banks off the main flow in an effort to avoid
the worst of the silt and debris, so short searching casts close in become the order of the day, right under overhanging banks or even into cattle drinking areas.
In those situations, the worms find the fish, not the other way around.
I.M.O. of course.:D

That’s a good way of putting it for those who have the skill to swim the worm.
 

Fall prince

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I used to fish the worm a lot several years ago.
In normal conditions it is like any other lure, get it close enough and induce a take.
Key is knowing where to look for a resting fish.
In high, dirty waters, normal lies are vacated, fish move closer to banks off the main flow in an effort to avoid
the worst of the silt and debris, so short searching casts close in become the order of the day, right under overhanging banks or even into cattle drinking areas.
In those situations, the worms find the fish, not the other way around.
I.M.O. of course.:D
Excellent
 

jimmythefish

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Imagine your going up a small side street in your town ok,we all know one, the street has a gale coming through,but the other side of the street is blowy but nothing compared to the gale side,so that’s how most rivers run too,( just watch ALL the folk take the easier route,especially here in Glasgow BUT there’s always ONE isn’t there! and probably trying to push an umbrella through it in awe too on the gale side ! ❤️ That city man) But nature will always point you to go the easier route,now add on cloudy water ,fish especially the salmon are far from thick,and will take the easy route, now mixed with incredible smell and sight and speed,remember they only might see thon bait for part of a second,and they will attack it so viciously, and will even better than that, somehow see through all that dirty water to latch onto that flying C like an Exocet missile to track and grab it,always cast over to the slow side,2 feet out from the edge,if salmon are in your river you will catch them especially on the worm in that dirty water , if you fish that Run,Beat,Path all the way down to the end, 2 feet out from the bank slow side,in big dirty water and I’ll guarantee you, you’ll at the very least lift the trout 👍.
 

Andrew B

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Imagine your going up a small side street in your town ok,we all know one, the street has a gale coming through,but the other side of the street is blowy but nothing compared to the gale side,so that’s how most rivers run too,( just watch ALL the folk take the easier route,especially here in Glasgow BUT there’s always ONE isn’t there! and probably trying to push an umbrella through it in awe too on the gale side ! ❤️ That city man) But nature will always point you to go the easier route,now add on cloudy water ,fish especially the salmon are far from thick,and will take the easy route, now mixed with incredible smell and sight and speed,remember they only might see thon bait for part of a second,and they will attack it so viciously, and will even better than that, somehow see through all that dirty water to latch onto that flying C like an Exocet missile to track and grab it,always cast over to the slow side,2 feet out from the edge,if salmon are in your river you will catch them especially on the worm in that dirty water , if you fish that Run,Beat,Path all the way down to the end, 2 feet out from the bank slow side,in big dirty water and I’ll guarantee you, you’ll at the very least lift the trout 👍.
Hey that’s just how one of those old guys put it on the Ogwen. Told me to think how we use motorways to get places and so it with Salar except he’s trying to get to his destination with spending as little energy as he can which means in times of floods hanging out where the field would normally be?
Having come from trout fishing this Old was so good to take me aside and explain and show me how the salmon of this steep river go about running and resting the river.
After having my mind blown seeing him fish a gushing torrent he starts asking me questions like “where will a salmon be resting now near this big boulder”? As a trout fisherman I said well it’s obviously gonna be resting somewhere behind the boulder out of the flow right? Just like a feeding trout would do. WRONG he tried to convince me a salmon would be lying in front of the boulder which even now with some salmon under my belt still feels weird?
He did promptly hook and lose fish in front of that rock just to prove his point so I bow to superior knowledge.

I take that’s not just a local thing about the boulder and is just what salmon do? I’ve been told I’m pretty good at reading small rivers for Trout and migratory fish but honestly to this day I still can’t picture or get my head around what constitutes slack or easy resting water for Salar as above water to m at least it’s not obvious esp when it looks like a white frothy torrent?
Don’t think I’ve strayed too far off topic so if anyone can explain this.
 

Fall prince

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Imagine your going up a small side street in your town ok,we all know one, the street has a gale coming through,but the other side of the street is blowy but nothing compared to the gale side,so that’s how most rivers run too,( just watch ALL the folk take the easier route,especially here in Glasgow BUT there’s always ONE isn’t there! and probably trying to push an umbrella through it in awe too on the gale side ! ❤️ That city man) But nature will always point you to go the easier route,now add on cloudy water ,fish especially the salmon are far from thick,and will take the easy route, now mixed with incredible smell and sight and speed,remember they only might see thon bait for part of a second,and they will attack it so viciously, and will even better than that, somehow see through all that dirty water to latch onto that flying C like an Exocet missile to track and grab it,always cast over to the slow side,2 feet out from the edge,if salmon are in your river you will catch them especially on the worm in that dirty water , if you fish that Run,Beat,Path all the way down to the end, 2 feet out from the bank slow side,in big dirty water and I’ll guarantee you, you’ll at the very least lift the trout 👍.
Fantastic
 

sneakypeter

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In big, dirty water I have done very well with a big prawn, a supermarket special, not the preserved coastal shrimps. Pale pink, natural colour, smell must have something to do with it, or maybe its size, and or smell combined. Others fishing the shrimp failed to get a take, not just once, but many times, even taking fish, following someone fishing the shrimp , much to their annoyance!
 

Fall prince

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In big, dirty water I have done very well with a big prawn, a supermarket special, not the preserved coastal shrimps. Pale pink, natural colour, smell must have something to do with it, or maybe its size, and or smell combined. Others fishing the shrimp failed to get a take, not just once, but many times, even taking fish, following someone fishing the shrimp , much to their annoyance!
Wow that is unbelievable! Fantastic
 

Andrew B

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In big, dirty water I have done very well with a big prawn, a supermarket special, not the preserved coastal shrimps. Pale pink, natural colour, smell must have something to do with it, or maybe its size, and or smell combined. Others fishing the shrimp failed to get a take, not just once, but many times, even taking fish, following someone fishing the shrimp , much to their annoyance!
Only time I ever fished the prawn or was it shrimp? Was in big dirty water on inside bend of a holding pool. Legal on the river I was fishing but for some reason it felt naughty as I didn’t have a float to detect bites. Fair mad really as I kept on baiting up the pin, and free lining it down with its own weight and few split shot and each time it came back the said shrimp came back smashed to pieces whilst muggings had no idea what was happening under brown water.
Total fluke on about the 10th cast when I’d snagged Bottom and pulled hard when the snag rocketed up and leaped into the air just metres away.
After that I kinda vowed to have another go only when I had some means of bite detection but I have to think the smell played a part and possibly a good bunch of fish to keep smashing and pulping the baits.

I’ve always thought that in salmon fishing these other methods other than the fly don’t get the recognition they deserve as there are levels to everything and to see it done well is really something?
 

Andrew B

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One other thing I could never understand after seeing sea trout catches on the Yorkshire Esk which are often taken on mepps spinners. Is wether they fish these spinners in the dark for sea trout?
 

Rosslinden0

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One other thing I could never understand after seeing sea trout catches on the Yorkshire Esk which are often taken on mepps spinners. Is wether they fish these spinners in the dark for sea trout?
Probably during the day, you can flick them right up under overhanging trees etc great fun when the water gets a bit low for salmon fishing.

There is an old thread on here about spinning at night but probably not worth digging up as it was full of fly only snobs if my memory serves me right.
 

Andrew B

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Probably during the day, you can flick them right up under overhanging trees etc great fun when the water gets a bit low for salmon fishing.

There is an old thread on here about spinning at night but probably not worth digging up as it was full of fly only snobs if my memory serves me right.
Lol best not go there eh?
There’s one guy I see year after year on the Dwfor in Wales as like me it stays clear from the beat at the bottom with the car park so we practically have a mile n half of deep dark woods to go at. Actually that probably why folk shy away from it as it’s difficult fishing requiring roll casts and little deft flicks with spinner and worm.
Lol it’s quite funny as we have to give a little whistle in the pitch black so as to not give each other a heart😂
Anyway I’m pretty sure he carries the worms in his pocket and uses just his fly rod to do both?
He’s a really good angler who takes fish when nobody else can catch a thing and I’m guessing that it’s his knowledge of when to turn to the worm in the dark? As first n foremost he prefers the fly, fish’s it fast with no mends and after me not taking a thing for the past few times I’ve been he suggested to stop being so stubborn with the fly and I’m sure he said to fish the worm just like you would a fly?
Do you reckon that sounds right as reason I never fish the worm isn’t of fly snobbery but more not having much clue in the day with snagging bottom, let alone at night in pitch black.

Rules have changed to just a single worm but he said that’s ok for Sea Trout anyway. I’ve been kicking myself looking back as I finally found a pool of fish where I could even see em in the day and these were those really big early double figure fish and it’s bee now suggested the worm would of done the trick.

The fly snobbery is joke esp from those that are dragging snaeldas about like its any more nuanced than a well fish spinner or bait😂
 

Rosslinden0

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Lol best not go there eh?
There’s one guy I see year after year on the Dwfor in Wales as like me it stays clear from the beat at the bottom with the car park so we practically have a mile n half of deep dark woods to go at. Actually that probably why folk shy away from it as it’s difficult fishing requiring roll casts and little deft flicks with spinner and worm.
Lol it’s quite funny as we have to give a little whistle in the pitch black so as to not give each other a heart😂
Anyway I’m pretty sure he carries the worms in his pocket and uses just his fly rod to do both?
He’s a really good angler who takes fish when nobody else can catch a thing and I’m guessing that it’s his knowledge of when to turn to the worm in the dark? As first n foremost he prefers the fly, fish’s it fast with no mends and after me not taking a thing for the past few times I’ve been he suggested to stop being so stubborn with the fly and I’m sure he said to fish the worm just like you would a fly?
Do you reckon that sounds right as reason I never fish the worm isn’t of fly snobbery but more not having much clue in the day with snagging bottom, let alone at night in pitch black.

Rules have changed to just a single worm but he said that’s ok for Sea Trout anyway. I’ve been kicking myself looking back as I finally found a pool of fish where I could even see em in the day and these were those really big early double figure fish and it’s bee now suggested the worm would of done the trick.

The fly snobbery is joke esp from those that are dragging snaeldas about like its any more nuanced than a well fish spinner or bait😂
Fishing on the bottom you're always going to get snags you can't let that put you off, after a while you'll soon get to build up a mental map of the river bottom and get snagged less if at all.
Then you get to learn it all over again after winter floods which is part of the fun.
 

Saint Andrews

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Fishing on the bottom you're always going to get snags you can't let that put you off, after a while you'll soon get to build up a mental map of the river bottom and get snagged less if at all.
Then you get to learn it all over again after winter floods which is part of the fun.

That's quite true however in my experience, growing up on small snaggy/rocky Cumbrian spate streams, the snags often provided fish cover so they lay there. Often it paid to fish the snag rather than avoid it, you would often learn how to fish close without losing too much tackle but it paid to take risks and be prepared to have to re-tackle a few times. As a youngster I had a few known snags in my arsenal which produced fish regularly for me that many avoided.
 

Rosslinden0

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That's quite true however in my experience, growing up on small snaggy/rocky Cumbrian spate streams, the snags often provided fish cover so they lay there. Often it paid to fish the snag rather than avoid it, you would often learn how to fish close without losing too much tackle but it paid to take risks and be prepared to have to re-tackle a few times. As a youngster I had a few known snags in my arsenal which produced fish regularly for me that many avoided.
Yes thats what i was getting at, all comes with time on the water learning.
 

Walleye

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Hey that’s just how one of those old guys put it on the Ogwen. Told me to think how we use motorways to get places and so it with Salar except he’s trying to get to his destination with spending as little energy as he can which means in times of floods hanging out where the field would normally be?
Having come from trout fishing this Old was so good to take me aside and explain and show me how the salmon of this steep river go about running and resting the river.
After having my mind blown seeing him fish a gushing torrent he starts asking me questions like “where will a salmon be resting now near this big boulder”? As a trout fisherman I said well it’s obviously gonna be resting somewhere behind the boulder out of the flow right? Just like a feeding trout would do. WRONG he tried to convince me a salmon would be lying in front of the boulder which even now with some salmon under my belt still feels weird?
He did promptly hook and lose fish in front of that rock just to prove his point so I bow to superior knowledge.

I take that’s not just a local thing about the boulder and is just what salmon do? I’ve been told I’m pretty good at reading small rivers for Trout and migratory fish but honestly to this day I still can’t picture or get my head around what constitutes slack or easy resting water for Salar as above water to m at least it’s not obvious esp when it looks like a white frothy torrent?
Don’t think I’ve strayed too far off topic so if anyone can explain this.
I'd slightly refine the fishes desire to find a path of least resistance. You don't just get slack water at the sides of the river. You also get slower flow on the bottom of the river even in the fast streamy sections at the heads of pools.

A fish also needs smooth flow. Turbulent flow of any speed is not a good resting place for a fish as they continuously use energy just to maintain station. Smooth flow is the best place for fish to rest. Fast smooth flow is also not a problem for a fish with great hydrodynamics, for short period anyway.

The flow behind a boulder is turbulent. You can see this at the surface a yard or two behind d the boulder. In front it is usually smooth. For certain shaped boulders the fish will also find smooth pockets of flow alongside a boulder, just like they will against steep banks, in places.

It's surprising how slow and smooth the flow can be a few inches above the bottom gravel in the fast runs at the heads of pools. I've seen fishing holding station in the heads of pools and barely moving a fin. They lie with their fins out like submarines, barely moving, just holding station with barely a twitch. It's really surprising.

In a big flood, the best spots will be in the sides of the river as the massively increased flow reduces the slack water at the bottom of the river and increases turbulence everywhere. The fish will find resting spots near the side of the river. As the height reduces and water clears, the smooth flow lies occur elsewhere in the pools so resting fish will move to find better and safer lies.

On the occasions I have fished worm in low clear water, its been fascinating. You see nothing in the pools and think the river is empty but fishing the shallow fast runs at the heads of pools and the little pockets around boulders in the long streamy sections, I would often see big fish moving out of the way of the worm as it comes through the lies. Fish will lie in these "fast water" lies for days, weeks or months on end.

I love worming. You find out where fish like to lie by fishing worm. I think one of the reasons the worm is so effective is you tend to fish in those slack water zones both at the sides of rivers, on the bottom and in the fast streamy runs where anything other than worm or a small mepps is not effective.

Oh, to avoid deep hooking, fish the upstream trotted worm on a circle hook with a running weight on the line. When it gets level with you slowly reel in. If the fish takes the worm in its mouth while it is trotting down towards you through the lies, the worm will stop but the weight will continue to travel down in the flow and past the fish until the line tightens to your rod tip. At this point, if a fish opens its mouth to swallow a bunch of worms, it's not so easy to swallow as the line is now tight and tending to pull the hook into the scissors. You'll know if you have a fish on as soon as the line tightens. There is no point in waiting as at this point a better hook hold through swallowing isn't likely nor desirable, especially for catch and release, so after a few seconds just lift into the fish. If all you do is pull the worms from the fishes mouth, get your cast out again as it likely wasn't spooked.

Personally, I think we tend to think the fish all lie where we catch them most on our preferred method. It's a natural assumption to make but a little flawed. There are probably far greater numbers of fish lying in spots where it is just very difficult or impossible to present a fly or spinner but bait can be well presented to taking fish. Its very rare I'll catch for example salmon on fly in a worm hole or vice versa, or salmon on spinner in a worm hole and vice versa.
 

Andrew B

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I'd slightly refine the fishes desire to find a path of least resistance. You don't just get slack water at the sides of the river. You also get slower flow on the bottom of the river even in the fast streamy sections at the heads of pools.

A fish also needs smooth flow. Turbulent flow of any speed is not a good resting place for a fish as they continuously use energy just to maintain station. Smooth flow is the best place for fish to rest. Fast smooth flow is also not a problem for a fish with great hydrodynamics, for short period anyway.

The flow behind a boulder is turbulent. You can see this at the surface a yard or two behind d the boulder. In front it is usually smooth. For certain shaped boulders the fish will also find smooth pockets of flow alongside a boulder, just like they will against steep banks, in places.

It's surprising how slow and smooth the flow can be a few inches above the bottom gravel in the fast runs at the heads of pools. I've seen fishing holding station in the heads of pools and barely moving a fin. They lie with their fins out like submarines, barely moving, just holding station with barely a twitch. It's really surprising.

In a big flood, the best spots will be in the sides of the river as the massively increased flow reduces the slack water at the bottom of the river and increases turbulence everywhere. The fish will find resting spots near the side of the river. As the height reduces and water clears, the smooth flow lies occur elsewhere in the pools so resting fish will move to find better and safer lies.

On the occasions I have fished worm in low clear water, its been fascinating. You see nothing in the pools and think the river is empty but fishing the shallow fast runs at the heads of pools and the little pockets around boulders in the long streamy sections, I would often see big fish moving out of the way of the worm as it comes through the lies. Fish will lie in these "fast water" lies for days, weeks or months on end.

I love worming. You find out where fish like to lie by fishing worm. I think one of the reasons the worm is so effective is you tend to fish in those slack water zones both at the sides of rivers, on the bottom and in the fast streamy runs where anything other than worm or a small mepps is not effective.

Oh, to avoid deep hooking, fish the upstream trotted worm on a circle hook with a running weight on the line. When it gets level with you slowly reel in. If the fish takes the worm in its mouth while it is trotting down towards you through the lies, the worm will stop but the weight will continue to travel down in the flow and past the fish until the line tightens to your rod tip. At this point, if a fish opens its mouth to swallow a bunch of worms, it's not so easy to swallow as the line is now tight and tending to pull the hook into the scissors. You'll know if you have a fish on as soon as the line tightens. There is no point in waiting as at this point a better hook hold through swallowing isn't likely nor desirable, especially for catch and release, so after a few seconds just lift into the fish. If all you do is pull the worms from the fishes mouth, get your cast out again as it likely wasn't spooked.

Personally, I think we tend to think the fish all lie where we catch them most on our preferred method. It's a natural assumption to make but a little flawed. There are probably far greater numbers of fish lying in spots where it is just very difficult or impossible to present a fly or spinner but bait can be well presented to taking fish. Its very rare I'll catch for example salmon on fly in a worm hole or vice versa, or salmon on spinner in a worm hole and vice versa.
Yeah I love the types of rivers with big glacial boulders presenting pool after pool of possibilities. I remember reading Jon Baileys rivers of U.K. and Ireland where he described a funny scenario in low water on the river Lyn in North Devon, where a bunch of dolphins had forced the salmon into running the river, where every snooker tabled size pool had fish in. He used those same tactics with the worm and mentioned striking early where he lip hooked up every one.

I’ve been caught out many a time on the spinner where in clear water I can see what I’m fishing over, only to have a salmon appear as if from nowhere and failure to speed up results in em turning away back to their hiding places.
I’ve never understood why salmon in particular are caught in gin clear water in small rivers in Norway say? And why all the spate rivers I’ve fished from West Country, Wales and Cumbria become so difficult to fish as soon as that certain colour has gone out of the water?
Even with water still on, if it’s turned clear I’ve yet to see anyone catch on the fly but those worm lads fishing blind in the necks and pockets did well.
I’ve even heard how the position of the sun from west coast rivers to those on the East can make a difference?
 
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