Anglesey adventures…Part One (Wrasse article, entry 265)

At the end of last week’s article I promised something totally different this time round. And with a switch from freshwater to salt, crucians to wrasse and a small pool to the Irish sea, that makes it pretty much a complete metamorphosis. With the annual family holiday taking place in Anglesey, along with the swimming costumes and sun cream went the fishing tackle. I often state that I am an all-rounder and whilst this is within the general confines of coarse fishing, my horizons do spread much wider. But living in south Staffordshire and being as far from the sea as anyone can be in England, my sea fishing trips are generally limited to vacations.

Putting my wrasse head on

We stayed near the town of Cemaes Bay and with lots of rocks in the northern part of the island, I decided to spend the week targeting wrasse. There are several species of wrasse around the shores of the British Isles, with ballan and corkwing being the most likely ones that I would catch. They are incredibly beautiful fish and you could be forgiven for thinking that they are to be found only in tropical waters. And certainly the prospect of hauling them out of the Irish sea doesn’t seem feasible at all.

I had already done my homework and located a number of tackle shops, so on arrival one of the first things I did was get hold of a couple of packets of ragworm. If I lived by the coast then I would dig my own bait, but when you’re on holiday it’s far more convenient to head for the local shop and buy it. But make sure that you get hold of good quality fresh bait – and more of that as the story unfolds.


Small but perfectly formed

Watercraft is for sea fishing too

One of the terms that you sometimes hear coarse anglers using is ‘watercraft’. And it’s nothing to do with boats, barges or canoes either but in a nutshell it’s an awareness of what is happening around the water, or to be more precise, below it. It means that you don’t just turn up and cast out but rather spend time finding out what’s going on beneath the surface of the place you are intending to fish. It’s about giving yourself a head-start so that before your bait even breaks the water you are one step ahead of the angler who hasn’t spent time preparing. But don’t let watercraft end just because you’re fishing the sea.

Having no prior knowledge of where to head for I took a walk along local rocks at low tide and identified somewhere to fish. As well as the obvious areas that avoided snags (it’s pointless just casting into rocks and losing tackle every time) I was looking for places that would be natural food larders and therefore the fish wouldn’t be far away. I found one such place and so after a lengthy walk I dropped my gear on the rocks and began to tackle up. I make my own rigs and was fishing two hooks, both reasonably short so that the odds of them getting caught on the weed in the area was reduced. The longer the snood the greater the chances of it snagging

Past their sell-by date

When we arrived at our caravan earlier in the day it wasn’t quite ready so we went food shopping while it was being cleaned. In order to keep them fresh though I put the ragworms in the fridge. But the cleaner thought that the newspaper must have contained something that the previous occupants had left behind. (Good job she didn’t open the packet!). So she threw them away! It meant that I had to rescue them from the bin later in the day.


Tip of the week

If you’re going on holiday and taking the rods then make sure you locate a source of good fresh bait.

The internet means that it’s possible to do your homework before you arrive.

And it was the fact that they had been in a warm trash can for several hours that explained the poor condition of the worms. Or so I thought, but more of that later. But I made do with what I had and even though they were pretty lifeless, I still managed to get lots of bites in the three hours I fished. The result was a number of small wrasse and a couple of small pollack. But like most sea fish they certainly got the tip moving when they took the bait. If you’re a coarse angler then the way that saltwater fish bite can be a surprise at first. Although the tackle is very stout and lacks the finesse of what you are used to, there’s nothing gentle about the way that a 4oz wrasse or pollack rattles the rod. If that was on the local river you’d be expecting a 4lb chub!

Wrasse, pollack and a crab

My second session was back on the same rocks, fishing into low water and the turn of the tide. This time my bait had been bought just a few hours before so imagine my disappointment when it was in an even worse state than the first batch I had. The problem with the tackle shop in question is that they pack the worms in advance and whilst they may be fresh at that stage, when one worm dies, that decay very quickly affects the others. I did a couple of hours though and ended up with just the one wrasse and pollack but both better quality fish.

I also caught an unusual (well for me anyway as I have no experience of sea life) looking crab. I have been doing some internet research and think it may be some sort of spider crab, but if you are well-versed on marine crustaceans then let me know what it is as I am always interested in correct identification. You can post a message in the guestbook on the home page.


One of the bigger wrasse that I caught

Good bait and good fish

The third trip to the rocks coincided with getting hold of some good bait from a new source. Even though I had to drive some distance it was worth it. I didn’t take any scales with me but two of the fish were in the 2lb bracket with numerous others pushing that weight. I fished for less than three hours but it was action all the way as the wrasse were hungry and liked what I was putting in front of them. With the sun shining bright in the sky and the sea a lovely blue it was a perfect place to be. And with common and arctic terns, curlews and oystercatchers passing in front of me and wheatears and stonechats flitting behind, the good fishing was the icing on the cake.

As well as the angling-related video that accompanies this article, I’ve also put a number of bird ones on my YouTube site as well as general ones from the holiday itself. The scenery around the island of Anglesey is stunning and there is plenty of footage taken from cliffs as well as birds such as choughs, turnstones and dunlins in summer plumage, little egrets, red-breasted mergansers, ringed plovers and so on. You can also check on my bird blog, which you can access together with the YouTube site on the home page of my Angling Journal.

(Originally published August 2008)

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