How and where to dig Lugworm

Hazel Tipping
  · Hazel Tipping  · June 11, 2015

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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15 Responses to "How and where to dig Lugworm"
  1. Dave plested says:

    I live a couple of hours drive from the coast so bait digging is a challenge, however last winter when lug was in short supply I noticed plenty of cast in the Fleet behind chesil, but didn’t get my fork out for fear of breaking a local bye law or something. Can you tell me if digging in the Fleet is allowed and are the restrictions on digging anywhere along the South Coast?

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Hi Dave.
      The Fleet is one of the very few Lug beds in Weymouth. It is only a small patch that has been dug and dug and dug again. I am surprised that there are any worms left there at all, and those that are left are small.

  2. john cady says:

    Whats the best way to keep luggworm alive.Also what is the correct way to freeze them.

    • Hi John, the best way to keep lugworm alive I have found, over the years, is to keep them in shallow trays with just enough sea water in there to let them move, but not covering them completely. We normally change the water every day to ensure they stay nice and fresh. As for freezing lug it is something many of us have all tried and tested without any success. They tend to defrost and go to mush. Totally unusable and watery. What you can do is squeeze the guts out as you would a Blacklug, whilst the lug are still alive and fresh, then salt them down. This is the best way to save any left over lug that you don’t want to throw away. I Hope that’s helpful for you.

  3. mark stewart says:

    Hi Hazel
    Where is the best place for digging on Hayling and are there any restrictions?
    I only fish once or twice a year due to work and child arrangements.
    Thanks mark

    • Hazel Tipping Hazel Tipping says:

      The best place to dig for Lug around Hayling is probably by the Ship Inn pub, which is situated just before you cross over the bridge at Langstone onto Hayling, on the left hand side. If you park in the car park there then cross the main road, there is a pathway that you can follow straight to the beach. The closer you dig to the low water line, the softer the mud but the bigger the worms are. However if you don’t fancy digging you can pop into my shop about a mile onto Hayling itself and buy some lug there. We always carry a good stock.

  4. Sorry. ..not apologising….me is out of practice……have just revitalised my tackle ready for retirement. . .have not fished regularly for 20 years…However.. . Can pass on lots of tails. . .. . . .( if you should so wish ) ….for example my first fish was a bass . …using white bait…of the west hot pipe on Shoreham Beach… ….yes there were 2 …hot pipes……that was with a tubular steel boat rod with a cork handle. …about 5 foot long.Cheers ,Mick The fine weather fisherman.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      We love to hear of other anglers exploits Mick, please feel free to share your tails with us 🙂 Would love to know how you get on with your new tackle. Things have certainly changed since I started fishing.

  5. gordon says:

    interesting read, thanks hazel.

  6. Mark says:

    Hi Hazel, I know this thread is a few months old now but I have a question if you could help me it would be very much appreciated, I live on the north east coast of England I have just started digging rag and blow lug.

    I went out for the first time tonight got a few of both species however the fork snapped digging in wet sand, could you recommend a good strong digging fork that would be easy on the back and suitable for the job.

    Some one recommended a bull dog fork also I have seen a potato digging fork on ebay that is stated as high quality and good for bait digging,I don’t mind paying for a good fork just want one that will last and not snap after a little use.

    How much sand should be dug out at a time I was digging the fork right in is this correct or should it only be 4inchs at a time etc?

    Regards Mark

  7. New fish says:

    Have you any idea where to dig for black lug around cumbria? We have a few areas with normal lug (blow lug as its called here) looks a little similar to a normal worm just bigger. But where around cumbria would we find black lug (we live near workington)

    • Mark says:

      If there is any around your area you can find them on the lowest tides near the water edge, spring tides tend to be the lowest but you can still get some throughout other times of the year buy a tides table for your local area. Look for a spiral shaped cast that looks like a coil of rope with no blow hole. You will want a pump cause digging them is back breaking work you would have to dig down about 3ft just to the side of the cast then gently dig around the cast till you reveal the tail which will only break off if you try to grab it you have to grab them by the body.

      Have a look on utube there’s some good videos on there show you how to do it all, it didn’t take me long to learn also keep you eye out for razor fish you can catch them with salt.

      • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

        Pumping only really works for Black Lug Mark. It is far more difficult to pump blow lug than dig them.

  8. Ben says:

    Hi I’m thinking of going lug pumping in Minehead.
    Is it any good there ?
    See a detectoist video on YouTube and there where loads of swirls at low tide.

    Kind regards
    Lil-Ben
    From
    http://Www.littleyetlarge.com

  9. Mike Cawson says:

    Hi Hazel,
    Can you recommend a good spot to dig for bait within about a mile either side of the pier at Bognor Regis?
    Thanks, Mike.

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