What are Beach Worms?
Beach worms or Australian beach worms are large marine animals of the genus annelid that fishermen commonly use as baits. They have muscular bodies that consist of numerous segments. Only fishermen and those who are curious can see these animals.
Beach worms can grow long, attaining a length of at least 2 meters. They also have several hair-like legs on each of the bottom sides of their bodies. Their heads have two fangs, which they use to eat. Depending on their types, each worm can have a greenish or red head and a pearly white body.
There are two different types of beach worms, namely pink heads and green heads. Pink heads are very long and skinny. The green heads, on the other hand, are shorter and bigger. They also have a striped head that has a gold or bronze sheen. Green heads are very strong and extremely difficult to catch.
Where to Find Beach Worms
Beach worms live in the sand on beaches, typically between high and low tide marks. You can find them on any sandy beach in South-Eastern Australia. They burrow through the sand, moving horizontally, toward their food source. They have a distinct strong sense of smell that helps them detect where their next meal is.
They use their two fangs to grab and tear flesh from dead birds or fish that the ocean washes off-shore. Beach worms are also scavengers on mollusks and other invertebrates. Moreover, they eat seaweed. In turn, these animals are a great source of food for fish and birds.
In their larvae stage, beach worms live as zooplanktons, feeding on phytoplankton. When they’re about 3 cm long, they begin settling in the sand as juveniles. At this age is when you can find and use them as fishing baits.
Commercial and recreational fishers in North West Wales collect beach worms for bait during summer. The majority of this activity happens along the north coast. The animals are one of the best and most consistent baits that one can use for estuary and beach fishing. However, they are never an easy catch. Many have had their own frustrations trying to do so.
How to Catch Beach Worms
You need some professional tips to do beach worming effectively. You’ll require plastic worming pliers, stocking, and pilchards. Here are the steps to a successful catch:
- Start by cutting a few centimeters off one of the worming pliers’ arms.
- The worms that are farthest from the breaking waves of the sea should be your target. This is because you won’t get wet in the process. More importantly, you’ll get more time to make them rise from the sand.
- Identify the worm type before catching it. This helps in determining the suitable extraction method. If you’re in doubt, it’s better to dig them out.
- Place about 6 pilchards in your stocking (to create the worm attracting smell) and wave them in receding see waves to disperse their smell.
- Look for a little V-shaped head popping out of the sand and let the worm be in between your legs.
- Let the stinky be about 1 cm above the sand. Once the worm jumps up to hold the stinky, slide the pliers around its head and quickly grab it with your other sandy hand.
- Gently lift the worm’s head with minimal pressure while digging with your free hand until it’s all out.
- Put your worm in the bucket and repeat the process.
How to Rig Beach Worms
Beach worms are arguably the most effective bait for a number of game fish species such as striped bass, mackerels, cod, and Pollock. Whether it is in shallow or deep waters, on flats or around rocks, the best way to set up your rig depends on the local conditions.
The most important thing to do is add enough weight to the line just to drift your beach worm a little bit near the bottom. If you use too much weight, the bait can drift very slowly along the ground, where crabs can quickly devour it. If it is too light, then the worm just moves by the current’s force.
Use a circle hook to rig your worm as it allows for safe catch-and-release fishing. Grab the worm a little behind its head by holding it between your thumb and forefinger. It extends its pinchers once you squeeze gently.
With your circle hook in the other hand, thread the hook’s point between the worm’s outstretched pinchers. Then, slide your worm up and around the shaft of the hook as far as you can. Push the hook’s point out through the worm’s side.