Worms: Beach haute cuisine
  |  First Published: December 2007

Now Summer is here and the beaches really start to fire, I’m going to give you the drum on catching beach worms. These marine bootlaces are magic bait for whiting, bream, flathead, jewfish and I have even taken salmon and tailor while working a beach.

Practically all our Northern Beaches are home to these worm and, thank God, there are plenty of them left despite the constant pressure as some anglers disregard the 20 worm per session bag limits. These idiots destroy worming on beaches for weeks as they take every living worm from its hidey hole.

To go worming you will need a ‘stink bag’ (I use a woman’s stocking), kippers, pilchards, mullet, tailor or any smelly fish to put in it, a stick to attach it to, a belt and a bait bucket to put your worms in, a pair of worming pliers (as you get better you will use your fingers as they won’t crush the worm to death) and a hand bait such as half a pilchard.

Oh, yes, lastly you will need a Heap of patience. If it makes you feel any better it took me nearly a year to catch my first worm.

On a quarter incoming tide, look for any flat area of beach that’s getting a regular wash. With a sweeping motion, work the stinky bag in the receding suds. Watch for the V in the sand as the worm pops its head out to investigate the smell.

Now impale the stick with the stinky bag in the sand above where you saw the worm and stand, legs apart, facing parallel to the beach at the spot of the V.

As the next wash comes in, wiggle the hand bait around 10cm above the worm and wait for it to stick its head out. Then gently close in the hand bait until the worm arches its back, comes out the hole and buries its head in the bait.

Slowly slip the pliers in between the bait and the worm and gently close the jaws. Now you have the worm’s head, dig down to feel its body and smoothly pull upwards. When you will feel the worm release, pull it out and put it in the bait bucket. Well done!

That success story will come after your 400th attempt!

After gathering enough worms for a session, go up the beach and roll them in cool, dry sand (preferably in the shade). Now pull the worm through thumb and forefinger to remove all slime; this way they will last longer.

At the end of a fishing session, you can dip left-over worms in methylated spirits for five seconds then freeze them. This way they will be nice and firm when thawed and will still catch fish.

Live worms will keep for a couple of days in cool wet sand.

Now you have the best bait on the beach you’ll definitely catch more fish than Joe Average next to you, who bought his crappy bait at the local servo. Good luck and let me know how you went.


Drifting off Narrabeen, Ben Scanaloni and Jimmy Ho scored more sand flathead than they needed. A few fish were kept for the larder, the rest released. Ben also landed a few small stingrays.

Floating pilchard baits at Good Property, just south of Long Reef, John Figuero landed small snapper, a 47cm sand flathead and dropped a heap of kingfish in the clear blue water. John said there were acres of salmon churning the surface and also bluebottles everywhere. On the way home, trolling two small pink jetheads, they picked up a couple of striped tuna.

If you’ve been having a bit of trouble scoring a feed off the beaches, you are not alone. They have been very quiet with even the freshest of baits spurned by the ever-fussy surf dwellers. Going against the trend is Warriewood, which has coughed up regular salmon.

Just letting an unweighted pillie tail do its thing around the whitewater, John Cheng came away with four bream and a tailor off Harbord rocks. He was also busted up twice by unknowns and he reports big blackfish patrolling the suds in search of weed.

If you want to tussle with big bream then you have to fish at night. Pump nippers at Church Point or Careel Bay and then fish with light tackle and a metre-long trace.

Places to target are around moorings, jetties, wharves and reefs. One of my favourite spots is the back end of The Basin, where some huge unstoppable creatures live.

Hawkesbury fisho Clive tells me blue swimmer crabs are making a show around Brooklyn. He says most of the females are berried (carrying eggs and illegal to keep) but there are enough males for a feed. Some are soft-shelled and not worth cooking as there is little meat in them.

In Narrabeen Lake there’s been a problem with that fine stringy weed that has been clogging lures and covering baits. If you can find clear patches, bream and flathead are eager to come out and play.


Do you know correct radio procedures? How do you attract and direct attention in an emergency?

It has become obvious that a lot our fishing public now have VHF radios and it’s compulsory to have a radio licence for VHF. Fines up to $10,000 and/or a jail term apply for using VHF without a licence. Even if you have a 27mHz radio learn the correct radio procedure.

The Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol at Broken Bay runs a radio licensing course over three nights, mainly Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 9.30pm. Friday is a free day then on Saturday they have a four-hour session which is used for revision and includes an hour for the examination.

The cost is $180 which includes the radio book, examination fees, notes and refreshments before and during the lectures. If fishing clubs want specials, lectures can be carried out on their premises for groups of seven to 10. Contact John Woudstra from RVCP at --e-mail address hidden-- .


When is The Pipe at Collaroy going to be fixed so we can fish off it again? Come on, Warringah Council, let’s see a bit of action so we can once again access this prime tailor possie.

Monthly tip: When fishing shallow, skinny water I have a very simple, stealthy method of berleying. I just rub the trace with a rag which has a hint of tuna oil. This odour, permeates to surrounding territory and attracts my quarry.

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