Early bird cashes in on the worms

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Blackpool is famed for its seven miles of golden sands, but the phrase has a different angle for a young Bispham businessman.

Bispham Angling boss Jordan Russell is up with the larks to beat the gulls to the lugworms which lurk beneath worm casts whenever the tide turns.

And these worms mean big money in bulk.

The early bird stands little chance of catching these worms when the man dubbed Worm Boy – by his friend Bispham hotelier Mick Grucock – is about.

“This lad’s going to be a millionaire,” says Mick, who runs Queen’s Mansions art deco holiday apartments just above Jordan’s small shop alongside Harts Amusements.

Jordan takes his nickname in his stride. “The live bait’s the mainstay of the business,” he adds.

He used to dig for lugworms, the traditional way, but as they are up to 10 inches long, prefers to use the technique he deploys for spaghetti eating.

Suction! He places a tube over the worm cast, powers it up and – voila, one worm.

“You hoover other stuff up too, but generally I leave the beach with about 600-700 worms,” he said.

“And it’s nowhere near as back-breaking as digging.

“It’s hard work. The shop’s open every day bar Christmas Day, and I’m out every day for worms – twice a day with the tide when busy. It can be 3am or 3pm, but I’ll be there for about three hours a time, about three quarters or a mile out. And the worms sell fast.”

Lugworms are an angler’s best friend, the ultimate lure to hungry snappers at sea.

At £2.50 for 10, it’s a nice little earner for Jordan, who studied fisheries management at Myerscough College before setting up his own shop at Bispham.

“It’s living the dream for me,” he admits. “I can’t stand eating fish, but I love to catch them, have since I was a kid and my nan and pop taught me.“

Now his gran and mum help out at the shop while he’s out worming.

“He stinks when he comes back. “Lugworms smell horrible,” says mother Debbie Russell.

“But it’s worth all his hard work. Now he’s selling buckets and spades and nets for the kids, as well as the fishing gear. People love the shop. It’s really compact and well located.”

At 21 Jordan’s already got an accountant. Colin Foster, director of Expert Accountancy, Blackpool, says: “Jordan is a self-motivated young man who has established his business on a firm footing.

“We have been his accountants since he started three years ago, and have helped with advice which he has found beneficial.

“A good accountant is also a sounding board.”

Sea angling is one of the fastest growing sports in Britain – particularly for the under 12s. Interest in inland fishing is also booming as Forton fisheries Cleveley Brook reports – with rising numbers of schoolchildren and wannabe fishermen and women from the Fylde coast turning up for learn to fish birthday parties and courses.

Harry Broughton, 10, from Poulton, celebrated his birthday with friends and family here, learning to fish, thanks to keen angler Danny Hunter.

Harry’s mum Lyndsay adds: “I couldn’t have picked anything better for the kids to do. It was fantastic.”

Hazel Carter, who’s been running the fisheries since February, says: “It offers so much and is such a beautiful spot I’m keen to encourage more to discover it. We also have junior angling clubs and other events. It’s all about getting the younger generation to enjoy the outdoors as we did as children. It’s a safe environment. Kids spend too much time indoors and it’s good to get them out doing something they enjoy that doesn’t cost a fortune.”

Hazel’s now running an open day there, on August 7, to celebrate national fishing month and national play day. It will feature big name anglers and coaches.

Celebrity fisherman Martin James will also present a workshop there – and a broadcast for Radio Lancashire.

Jordan agrees fishing is enjoying a revival.“I think programmes such as Robson Green’s Extreme Fishing help,” he adds.

“I get all ages coming here – but it’s great to see more kids take it up as I did. You can get decent starter kits for quite a reasonable price – not the tacky rubbish that falls apart in no time. Once hooked, it’s an interest for life. And it’s not expensive. We’re lucky to have so much good fishing in the area. Bispham is a great spot, but the stretch from the Gynn to Cleveleys and beyond is great, too. I also like North Pier.

“I’ve caught some massive fish in Scotland, but the kind of fish we catch locally is changing too, with the bigger tides, weather or other influences.

“Sea bass is the big one, but we’re getting more gurnard and unusual species.”

Tomorrow night he’s hosting a sea angling tournament off Bispham, with prize money from entry fees, and the biggest share of the pot going to anglers who net the most types of fish (sea bass, codling, smooth hounds, dogfish, flatties and the like), rather than on weights, or numbers.

“It’s the next stage for me,” Jordan concludes. “The business is doing well in a difficult time, I’ve got a lot of regulars, I’d say 75 per cent of them are locals, which is a great balance in a seaside resort. But I know they’re keen to compete and socialise, too, don’t get the chance very often, so this is a good way of keeping the shop at the heart of the community.

“It’s also what matters to me, really. At the end of the day I’m a fisherman.

“And when you really love something you want to share it with other people. Especially kids. I’ve now got lots of local lads, 11 to 15, who come in here regularly. They’re hanging out doing something that’s fun and healthy, and won’t get them into trouble. I can’t thank my nan enough for getting me started.”