Lugworm, in my opinion, is one of the most under-rated baits there is. When you think about what we all think fish prefer to eat, we think of blood, guts, smell etc and Lugworm is one of the best baits which fit all of these criteria. Couple that with the fact that Lugworm is one of our most native baits within the UK, with it being visible on nearly all of our sandy beaches and estuaries and you have an easily accessible bait basically for nothing but for a bit of hard work. Over the last few year of running my bait shop on Hayling Island I have been asked countless times what is the difference between rag and lug? How do you know WHERE to dig lug? and most popularly HOW do you actually find and dig lug?
Over the years I have been lucky enough to dig Lug in places all over the UK such as Mersea Island in Essex, Isle of Skye in Scotland and even as far as Belgium and Holland, but with every place you visit and chose to dig for lug, the techniques are all the same. I am hopefully, within this article, going to be able to shed a bit of light on how to do so.
If you are thinking that digging Lug is easy you would be mistaken, it is back breaking work, however this can vary depending on the beach itself. I normally begin by having a good look round at the swirls on the mud called ‘casts,’ if they are small and thin the worms are usually small and thin too. If the cast looks a good size and the swirls are thicker then they tend to be much better worms.
Every beach has a different layout i.e water flow, streams, terrain, tidal movements etc, but the beach I was digging on for these Lug was a standard sandy beach with a gentle slope towards the sea which made it easier to keep my bait hole dry.
I begin by making a long line, of about 8ft, in the sand parallel to the low water line, then I start off by putting my fork into the sand halfway down and taking a small chip off the surface and putting it directly in front of me, I do this really fast along the full length of the line. This stops any water running into the hole and swamping it. Once I have been along the line I go back to the beginning where I started and take out a deeper fork full, and again place the mud directly in front of me. I don’t tend to pick up any worms in the first two rows simply because starting off the hole is the most important part of the digging. Without a good dry first two rows, the rest of the trench will keep filling with water. This just makes it a nightmare to spot the worms and maintain a good trench. Once you have the first two or three rows up and running I put both of my feet in the hole and slice off, at an angle, a fork full of mud as you can see in the picture, at the start of the line.
Once you have taken off the corner you have a nice flat surface in which you can easily dig your way along the line. The reason I do this is purely for speed. If you are in no rush and you haven’t got to dig a vast quantity, you can stay stood on the top of the hole and dig backwards throwing the mud in front of you, however professional diggers will usually tend to stand in the hole. This enables you to push the fork down with your left or right hand, which ever hand you have on the handle, and break up the mud with the opposite hand in search for worms. By the time your hand has got back to the bottom of the fork it is ready to lift the next chunk. This technique also minimises back ache as you are simply just turning the mud sideways instead of lifting it right up to throw. It also ensures that the hole is what we call ‘back-filled’ ie the mud is laid directly back where it came from, not thrown to either side of the trench, enabling the ground to ‘heal’ at a much faster rate.
As you can see by my photo of the full trench, once I had finished the edges are neat, the hole is fairly flat and it will not take long for the ground to recover. The Lug tend to be around a forkful deep, often around Hayling we will get sand whites living among the lugworm which are also a fantastic bait and extremely sought after throughout the UK.
The hole you can see in the picture produced four and a half pound of lug which is approximately 400-450 worms in just under 2 hours work. Not all digging can be as productive and sometimes it can be better, however the key points you need to remember when digging lug are 1. Look for the bigger casts.
2. Dig the first 2 or 3 rows as quickly as possible to keep the water out and 3. Back-fill. Very important.
I am always available to help anyone to learn how to dig so if you would like tuition or just some advice over the phone feel free to get in touch with me. The digging part of my business is where my passion is and always will be. It is hard work but one of the most enjoyable jobs to do in my opinion.