Anglesey adventures (wrasse article, entry 266)

The title of this week’s article is self-explanatory, as last week’s angling antics on the island of Anglesey continue. Although in the past I have made specific trip to the coast to fish, these days with petrol being a massive factor, I am pretty much an opportunist. And with holiday time being an obvious open door to the delights of salt-water angling, when we go away on vacation, along with the sun cream (hopeful for Wales I know) and other such related gear goes my sea fishing stuff. The family are well used to having to juggle their seating arrangements around rods and a tripod.

Just when I thought the bait issue was sorted

Last week I related the issues that I had concerning ragworm. I ended the story by saying that I had finally located an excellent supplier and so I was able to close the book on that one. Well it wasn’t quite like that as on the day of the first session that I am writing about this week, I arrived at the shop a good 45 minutes before it should have been closed to find that it was well and truly locked, bolted and in darkness.

Well as it happened, by a combination of refreshing my mind of visits to the island in years gone by and pure accident, I stumbled across a shop right at the close of business for the day and got stocked up. The fresh ragworm that I bought were in great condition and so I can now say that the saga of the bait is well and truly over and no more mentions will be found in this article! But the warning is there to anglers that are visiting places on holiday that they don’t have prior knowledge about or contacts on the ground. Do your homework as much as possible before leaving home.


The best wrasse of the week

Out came the fleece suit

After a day or so of really warm weather, where I was fishing in a tee-shirt, the sudden drop in temperature combined with the showers meant the fleece suit put in an appearance. This is what I usually wear in spring or autumn but as we know with the British weather, that should also include June, July and August as well. I had certainly gone on holiday prepared and although I took minimal gear with me, I knew that I needed warm clothing to be part of the basics. I had also packed my walking boots as well and these were essential for clambering over wet rocks.

As I mentioned in last week’s article I tie all my own rigs and some of those could be viewed on the video that accompanied the piece. The snoods are 20lb amnesia and hooks were Aberdeen pattern size 2. I like Aberdeens as you can thread the worm well up the hook and then beyond, so that the knot acts as a stop ensuring that the worm doesn’t slide back down so easily. Using a two-hook rig means that by cutting a ragworm in two I get to maximise the bait to the full. Lead weight varied between 4oz and 6oz with no problems at all being created by tides as far as presenting the bait was concerned. In fact I will regularly use leads that size barbel fishing on Midlands rivers.

The rod gets rattled by a big wrasse

Within fifteen minutes of casting out for the first session of the week I found myself striking into a fish that rattled the rod so hard it almost leapt out of the tripod. Immediately the reaction of the fish was to head deep into the kelp and so, as with the other bigger wrasse I had caught previously, I found that the best way to deal with it was to hold the rod as high as possible, all the time reeling in and steering it away from its intended destination. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about sea, game or coarse fish, once hooked they will instinctively head for whatever cover is available to them.


Tip of the week

If you’re a land-locked angler like I am, consider doing some sea fishing next time you are away on holiday.

You will need to get specific tackle though but you can pick up basic stuff quite cheaply.

As I drew the fish to the edge of the rocks I did what I had done with all the other bigger ones – I made my way right down to the water’s edge to lift it out by hand. Whilst the smaller fish could be hoisted out with no problems, I didn’t want to take any chances with the better ones. And of course the welfare issues of a fish slipping the hook in mid-air and dropping to the exposed rocks was important too. There is one well-known TV sea angler whose fish handling skills are non-existent. Apart from film of him throwing fish back into the sea from way above the water, not to mention numerous other poor examples, the worst is when he weighs a double-figure bull huss by putting the hook on the scale directly into the gills of the fish and then he releases it back into the ocean.

All the fish were solid and substantial

Well I didn’t have any scales with me, as they weren’t included in the holiday gear, but the fish was a very good 2lb’er. Comparing wrasse to a perch gives you a good idea of the weight, and I’ve weighed many of those in my time. All the fish that I caught were solid and substantial, there was none of that ‘this one will go x lb’s come the end of the season’ talk that we often use as coarse fishermen when referring to summer barbel for example.

I caught several smaller fish during the session and then towards the end I had another 2lb specimen. I was all fired up for the second outing of the week and although I didn’t catch any more of that weight or above, what I lacked in quality I more than made up for with quantity. It was action all the way and no more than a few minutes went by before I found myself striking into a fish. Some of them were quite small, but regardless of the size, one thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that they were all beautiful looking fish, as the close-up of the wrasse on the right verifies.


A beautiful looking fish

Going out on a low

After such an enjoyable time fishing I had mixed feelings about the third trip of the week. It was great to be back on the rocks but it was also my final session, as the holiday was drawing to a close. As it was, although I had a few bites, I ended up with the first blank. And with the rain driving in from the Irish Sea, it was easier to walk away at the end of the evening than I had expected. I did see another brown hare though as I walked the headland back to the car. I had seen several during my walks to and from the rocks as well as common terns and arctic terns fishing in front of me and curlew on the rocks and wheatear and stonechats behind. Fantastic wildlife, as I reminded myself that the next session would be back at home with rats, wrens and blackbirds!

(Originally published August 2008)

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