The Humble Earthworm

FaughanPurple

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The Humble Earthworm
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How has one of the most simple organisms on our Planet become such a maligned being and marginalised fishing method and where does a Newbie begin these days with what most of us started fishing on without a second thought but now can’t seem to fish on a majority of rivers in modern day Salmon Fishing. Most importantly, where does a new angler young or old, fish the good old reliable Garden Olive these days without ending up in the dock!?

As with most things fishing, it’s probably best to check out your local tackle shop and Angling Association, ask if it’s a permitted method and then head there after a good downpour. Just as the river has peaked and is beginning to drop but yet to clean properly. Easy, well it is until you hear those 3 word “catch and release” but we’re not going to go down that road today…. Fortunately, most rivers that do run dirty after rain for long periods and have a healthy stock of Fish, still allow the method in my native North West and of course, you need to take a Newbie along with you, if you’re not one yourself. I had a newbie.

I have to admit at this point I’m being a bit disingenuous by calling him a newbie as we would have fished together when we were younger and he was there when I caught my first Salmon aged 14, although he did his best to miss it with the net several times before it was unceremoniously dragged ashore under his hopping feet. A calamity show if there ever was one but at least we’re still friends and we can laugh about it now, the fish was landed after all.

While I somehow ended up completely addicted to Silver after that, he never quite caught the same bug I did or his first salmon for that matter, coincidence, maybe! Although we have continued to get out on local stocked fisheries whenever life lets us but the last time we fished for Wild Fish together was when we were both at school some 20 odd years ago and both were newbies to chasing old Salar. Fast forward a quarter of a century and this trip started exactly like all those other trips in our teenage years, completely unplanned, off the cuff, just a little bit daft and for no good reason other than for something to do to kill a few hours on long summer holidays.

Again before we go further, I’ve another admission to make, I had kind of planned my trip, just not his as well! I’d one eye on finally fishing the night fly this season at the weekend and with multiple mid week reports of double figures of schoolies landed to single rods I had decided now was the time. It had been too long since I felt that electric bump in the night and I was needing my fix, badly.

As I sat in work during the week, willing away every second to Friday and hatching a plan to escape West again without causing a diplomatic incident on the Home Front.. Such tasks at times, takes negotiation skills possessed by very few, especially not me, so I had decided to go with the time old tactic of going first and asking for permission later or the more likely outcome, saying sorry … Sometimes it’s just easier that way. Isn’t it? Open to solutions on a postcard!

As ever, with most well planned executions, sorry excursions, the weather gods had other ideas and the rain started to fall. First on Thursday, with little or no affect, Still Game On then, but when Friday afternoon had finally been wished to the present day. The heavens opened and put that final nail in the night fly coffin with a dirty, rising river. At least the Trout and my ears will be saved a bashing I suppose, execution cancelled.

As I arrived home from work, drenched, I was greeted with “Aren’t you fishing this weekend with all that rain?” Knowing the river can take it’s time to clear after a flood and the rain was only really starting I had scrubbed the idea of a day’s fly fishing, well to Sunday morning at the earliest, but like we all do I thought I’d earn the brownie points. “No dear, no plans made this weekend” I fibbed… then the phone rang!

C J (Munich) appeared on the screen, Hello I said!, hmmm not much, only home. No No, No plans…. You’re Home then…. I can’t tonight bud, maybe tomorrow lunchtime, OK I’ll see….. OK…. No problems… see ya… bye… “Who was that?” She asks with a look that said it all, even though she only heard one side, she knows by the tone, he’s not the only Creeping Jesus in that conversation :D

Saturday lunchtime arrives and I’ve left the War Department in the East and finally arrived West, Passport control having been navigated successfully without any baggage. An executive decision was made on arrival to leave the stockies alone for once and get Newbie a day-ticket for the river instead. It was July after all and he did ask me where I wanted to go fishing today.

I’m now standing over the Faughan, as I do, mid afternoon looking at 1ft and slightly more of dirty water, not yet starting to clean properly and more like a cup of very Milky Cappuccino instead of the preferred freshly poured Frothy Dark Porter…A million miles away from what I’d being dreaming about all week and not really what you want to see after spending a week tyeing size 13’s 10’s & 11’s with Mallard wings and sparse spiders…Don’t get me wrong, I like Coffee but I like Porter more and what I really wanted to see this weekend was water the colour of well watered dram or maybe a gin, anyway, beggars can’t be choosers and sometimes you’ve just got to drink what you’re given, so bottoms up!

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Thankfully, I’d spent the previous hour in the garden with a bucket of water, fairy liquid and marigolds preparing for the inevitable. No, not cleaning up prior to getting permission from her in-doors but that time old school boy cheat for getting worms quickly. We'd also made an emergency Pit Stop to the local tackle shop for essentials and Although, I’d not give up completely of fishing the Fly at some stage before dark, I knew the Snakes would be getting a swim if not only because of the conditions then certainly to get the newbie fishing but given his contribution to the bait collecting, I hadn’t decided if I’d share yet. He’d surely have his own anyway, wouldn’t he? This was his idea after all.

“Where are we starting?” He asks… “Bit further up I reckon” I say… “What are we fishing with?” comes next… “What ever you’ve got” I reply… “Hmmmmmm” he says, as he walks around the car and gets back in… “and so it begins” I’m thinking.

We head up river a few miles to fish just below the major tributary on the river, a good stopping point for running fish and one with a lovely pool to fish bait in just below the confluence. As we set up and I get the wet gear on the questions continue, “Will we catch anything?”… “Well it’s the Faughan, you know the score from before” I tell him honestly…. “Yeah I suppose, why are you wearing those?”… “Wearing what?” I ask…. He points to my waders.. “is it not obvious” I say… “why not wear shorts and trainers in the water?” I’m asked… “Well, you go ahead if you want, I’ll leave the spares here then”… OK! Sorted. As we walk through the field to the Pool, which is still muddy from the over night rain, I swear I can hear his thoughts as we squelch through the mire but they’re blocked by my own, which are on the streams I’m passing by, not to fish this time, as I take newbie to the kiddies pool.*

The pool has a rough streamy neck where the flow awkwardly splits in 2 over a raised ford before running below a series of over hanging trees before making a dog leg left turn into the pool proper. It’s always been problematic to swim a fly in due to the conflicting flows but what it does create where they come together, is a lovely long seam to bounce a well weighted bait along before It then enters into a very deep holding pool. The main flow is on the far side from the angler with the lies all along the rocky ledges of the hard rock face opposite and with a big Edie between you and them.. Not the easiest place to fish a fly in either until the wide tail creates a more even pull but again, a well weighted worm can be worked along the bottom in hope of finding a resident or 2.
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We arrive and start to set up the bait rods with the standard fare 15lb Hi viz reel line to a swivel then 3ft of clear 12lb mono to a size 2 bait holder.. Single big juicy lob threaded on through the head to the hook and a pinch of lead at the swivel, just enough to touch bottom and keep it trundling along.. job done!...Old Skool fishing at its best, Nothing fancy and no one called Betty Bouncing in sight. Although, we were under Jean’s Ghost’s Oak tree and I certainly hoped we didn’t see her this evening!

“Have you got any worms?” I hear over my shoulder. Yup there it is and that’s another ghost from the past, I think… “ Don’t you?” I reply knowing full well the answer… “Well…” he starts.. “Here” I say as I hand over the plastic Chinese takeaway tub filled with lobs, “Some day you’ll bring the bait and surprise me”… “Nah, I won’t” comes the reply… I laugh and somehow believed him…

The river is very quiet, again like last week, too quiet given there should be residents here after the recent water last week but maybe they’ve shot on through on the rise last night… There should be something coming through on that water though.. an hour passes, possibly 2 no sign of life at all… Not even a brownie has had a nibble… hmm a move or change is in order I start thinking. I look around to Newbie to see what he wants to do but he’s wrestling with the hold-fast in the neck again, so I decide to let him concentrate on that, he’s enough to worry about at the moment…I continue to look around, as I so often do during the 1000 or so casts we have to make for old Salar to play ball, waiting for something obvious to hit me. . I like fishing bait but the staying in one place thing starts to give me a bit of ADD or similar after a while and I’m getting just a bit restless. I’m thinking I’m just about to give up and look at my feet at let out a sigh as I kick the sand bed playfully about… … when there it is right under my nose… that lovely few inches of clean dark porter, just starting to appear along the edges of the river… So I decide to set up the fly rod…if only for something else to do.

Meanwhile Newbie is still playing tug of war with the bottom as I start digging around the kit… SNAP! I hear over my shoulder…. “What are you doing?” comes next… “Think I’ll set up the fly rod now, the water is starting to clear a bit” I say… “oh! Can I fly fish too now then?” I’m asked… “Have you flies” I ask… I hear something muttered about going home and the GV Tobacco tin gets rattled as hooks and swivels et al are reattached ready to feed the submerged tackle tree again.
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I set up the small 11ft 6” double hander this time, I much prefer single handers but with the water over 1ft and carrying heavy colour a bigger fly was needed to stand out and they’re just a bit easier delivered and controlled with bit of extra length and beef to put it and keep it where it’s supposed to be. A pair of size 6’s are selected, no name patterns or anything fancy but plenty of bling, white and orange to contrast the mix of black water and brown sediment currently flowing past..

As I return from giving the 2 streams either side of the pool a quick run through with nothing for my efforts, I notice newbie has moved from the neck to the tail of the pool.. He’s apparently seen splashes in the lies in the rear corner of the pool, right where runners might stop after coming through the tail.. “ah! that’s good.. nothing to do with the hold fast up there then?” I ask… the sheepish look answers me but so does the fish that rolled just out in front of Newbie.. Now we have life at least!

I pick up the bait rod and head for the neck, as Newbie has now camped at the tail. I throw the single lob as far as I can up stream into the seam and wait for it to touch bottom before picking up the slack on the reel and starting to feel the lead bump back towards me on that most sensitive of bite indicators, the Pinkie Finger!

I can’t remember how long I was repeating this for but it was long enough for my mind to start wandering again and I think I was mastering the art of sleeping while standing when the bait stopped in the stream. Hmmm it’s well past the Newbie catcher I thought, probably just in behind a wee rock I’ll let it sit a few seconds. I switch off again and then it came, the faintest but quickest of tap tap…. Argh!!! FISH! Now I’m wide awake, slack picked up back on the reel and the Pinkie alert, waiting for another chance. Come on, don’t drop it I’m saying to my self repeatedly, inwardly raging I was dozing for the first tap tap and well aware the second chance may not come… After what feels like an eternity, probably in reality no more than a minute, the tentative Tap Tap converts to a more confident Rug Rug, no thoughts enter my head just STRIKE! I always half expect to miss when I strike on worm and I’m no different this time but to my surprise the rod arches over and the line tightens then straightens through the slack in a slight zig zag to connect to a bright silver grilse, barrel rolling, out in the flow just off the main current, right in the seam below the Newbie Catcher.. FISH ON!

Just as I was getting set for the usual histrionics that a grilse throws at you during a fight, it clearly had other ideas and simply decided to swim towards me and wallow at my feet, quite submissively. Obviously already tired after running from the Tidal stretches 5 miles or so below and in no mood to put on an ariel display… I looked to my left to see what newbie was doing, half expecting to see him arriving quickly with the net but he was as motionless as the fish and looking just as surprised by it all too to be honest. Maybe he didn’t fancy netting this one after the last benny hill show we had all those years ago. To be honest it might have livened the whole thing up and it was all over just as quickly as it started and with the hook not even visible in the 3.5lb Grilse, there was only really one thing left to do.
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As I was tackling up again, Newbie had now suddenly moved from the Tail back to the neck, funny that, but what wasn’t funny was the fast emptying bait box.. Only a few worms left and certainly not enough to keep both of us going to dark… Newbie didn’t want to go home now for reason.. so I picked up the fly rod and decided to throw some fluff at the trout now showing more regularly at the tail…and that’s how it continued for the rest of the evening, until Newbie picked up the fly rod and found more trees out of the water than he did in it and kept looking towards me for some sort of Divine intervention.. During which at some point In between the laughing and swearing, I made the decision never to be a Ghillie.
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We fished well into the dark, longer than what was sensible, not wanting the time warp evening to end and then made our way through the fields back to the car in the pitch black. I didn’t get to fish the streams we passed on the way in and out at all today and I certainly didn’t need to read Newbie’s thoughts either as our squelching came to an abrupt halt on the walk home… “Ah **** my shoe” I heard behind me… As I had the head torch, I turned to throw some light on the situation but out of the darkness above the beam fixed firmly on the mire came “Don’t you dare mention ****ing waders”..

All I could do was fall to my knees laughing at him, hopping around again, with a mess at his feet like he had all those years ago trying to net a fish and I suppose this is where this story really ends and starts, right back at the beginning doing what we loved as children. Being a bit daft, gathering bait and planning last minute fishing trips for nothing other than something to do in the summer holidays and no doubt forging the lifetime of friendship and brotherhood that has emerged since.

And what of the humble worm, well maybe it will turn if onlt for a few days each summer at least and allow more to forge similar bonds well into the future.

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Lamson v10

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The best post that's been on the forum for a very very long time FP :thumb:
It's just like what happens when my mate makes his annual trip with me, it used to be every weekend we'd be out fishing but he now has two kid's .. We always have a laugh and it's fantastic memories :D

I seriously seriously enjoyed reading your post FP.. big thank's for taking the time to post it :cool: we've not had our trip out yet this year yet, can't wait

Arnold
 

Piker20

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If its your own lawn, try mustad mixed in water to bring up the worms. Won't damage the worm or the soil but washing up liquid will eventually knacker the ground.
 

Rrrr

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I find the neighbours lawn the best hunting/poaching ground for the blackbirds fancy, head torch, washing up liquid, a bucket and a good cover story is all thats needed (trying to find an injured hedgehog or squirrel works well).
Great post and good to see people out enjoying worming. You should give trout and salmon a ring as with your articles written in that style it would be worth buying and reading again.

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Jockiescott

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Some of my fondest memories of fishing are from fishing worm. I think, for me though, that is where my worm fishing will remain too. A memory from my past.

I know I'm spoilt, having the river on my doorstep, but I am more than happy now to wait to the river cleans enough to put a fly on the water.

Now, my idea of clean enough for fly is a lot different to most people's idea of it. My more recent fondest memories of fishing involve hooking salmon under the noses of those fishing worm as, "... Its too dirty for fly"!
 

FaughanPurple

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I find the neighbours lawn the best hunting/poaching ground for the blackbirds fancy, head torch, washing up liquid, a bucket and a good cover story is all thats needed (trying to find an injured hedgehog or squirrel works well).
Great post and good to see people out enjoying worming. You should give trout and salmon a ring as with your articles written in that style it would be worth buying and reading again.

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Thank you Rrrr, that’s very flattering that you think its good enough for print… food for thought, maybe!

I've had a few worm hunting grounds over the years, I usually find the local cricket ground is the best place after a good downpour but always best to ask the Ground-Keepers first before going round in the dark with a torch lol
 
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FaughanPurple

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Some of my fondest memories of fishing are from fishing worm. I think, for me though, that is where my worm fishing will remain too. A memory from my past.

I know I'm spoilt, having the river on my doorstep, but I am more than happy now to wait to the river cleans enough to put a fly on the water.

Now, my idea of clean enough for fly is a lot different to most people's idea of it. My more recent fondest memories of fishing involve hooking salmon under the noses of those fishing worm as, "... Its too dirty for fly"!

We’re very similar in that way as well, Jockie. if I’d been fishing alone I’d certainly have fished a big fly from arrival through the streams and left the pools alone to the next morning but with Newbie in tow and knowing he didn’t really have the gear to go River walking, the method had to suit the application on Saturday evening. Anyway, I do rather enjoy it still although I don’t fish it anywhere near as often these days, maybe once a season or 3 even and never after Mid August these days.. I suppose you use it or lose it!
 
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Rrrr

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Thank you Rrrr, that’s very flattering that you think its good enough for print… food for thought, maybe!

I've had a few worm hunting grounds over the years, I usually find the local cricket ground is the best place after a good downpour but always best to ask the Green-Keepers first before going round in the dark with a torch lol
My favourate hunting ground as a kid was on my uncles small holding, the pot bellied pig pig pen held giant lobworms that oozed yellow stuff and for some reason the fish prefered them.

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