An ode to worm fishing: A nod to angling simplicity
Have you ever wondered what came first in the world of trout fishing: the worm or the hook? The two obviously go together like bread and butter and whoever figured that out sure didn’t go hungry.
I’m a big fan of simplicity, especially when it comes to things like fishing. Sure, I like gear and gadgets, but I remain a strong advocate of sitting on a streambank, dock or shoreline with a simple fishing pole, rigged with a simple fishing hook with a time-honored bait attached to that fishing hook. This is especially the case when there is a kid involved, or any newcomer for that matter.
When I was a little kid, my family moved from a suburban area out to the country. My siblings and I went from riding bikes on sidewalks to riding them in horse pastures and dirt driveways. Right across the road from our house was a stream that to this day holds a population of small, native brook trout.
My father outfitted us with simple fishing poles. We dug worms out from under rocks, wood piles and in gardens. I remember rainy nights in the spring when my older brother would got out in the grass with a coffee can and return in a short while with it full of night crawlers.
Earthworms worked as bait then, and they do now. That’s why they’re sold everywhere, not just at bait shops – even convenience stores anywhere there is nearby fishing access.
Trout season is here, and as the ice melts on local ponds, the snow recedes from along the stream banks, and the water temperatures rise, anglers of all ages, gender and skill levels will be getting in some early-season action. And worms will be the chosen bait for many.
Worm fishing is simple. If you like to cast, then you throw it out there, let it sink and work a slow retrieve back. On a stream, perhaps you float it downstream by structure and through eddies without too much weight on the line. Or maybe you’re just sitting in a lawn chair or on a dock with a bobber attached to your line and a worm on a hook just waiting for a fish to come by.
Worms catch everything, not just trout, and this is especially the case in the early part of the open-water fishing season. You always see pictures of bass, pike and other larger species being fooled by anglers using a worm as bait.
But it is trout that we think of when we put that worm on our hook. Maybe it’s the wild brookies like the ones in the stream near my home, or those browns and rainbows recently stocked by New York state or a local county fish hatchery. For the more serious trout angler, the worm is on a hook and a leader about 18 inches from a Lake Clear Wabbler being slowly dragged behind a moving watercraft.
Yes, there are other baits and other fishing methods. But a simple hook and a worm has always gotten the job done, and always will.