Wrasse on the rocks (wrasse article and video, entry 318)


Wrasse on the rocks

I often describe myself as a genuine all-rounder when it comes to fishing, and to reinforce that point, this week’s Angling Journal is sea-based. Not only do I have variety in my coarse angling, but given the chance I will also switch disciplines as well. Admittedly I haven’t done much fly fishing in recent years and my sea fishing is pretty much limited to vacations, but nevertheless I am very comfortable and happy to fish wherever it may be. In fact I say to my wife concerning our family holidays that I’m not bothered where we go as long as there is some water nearby!

This year we again visited the island of Anglesey for our summer vacation, and along with the suitcases and bags in the back of the car sat my sea fishing gear. I usually fish on the Saturday evening on the day of arrival, but this year we didn’t set off till later, as the Premier League kicked off on that day and so instead of driving along the A55 at 3.00pm, I was sat at Molineux watching Wolverhampton Wanderers lose 2-0 to West Ham United! But my sorrows were turned to joy later in the week when we beat Wigan Athletic 1-0 away, although I listened to that game via radio updates and not there in person. I have a home season ticket and that’s expensive enough without the added cost of travelling. Plus I was on holiday anyway.

I caught this wrasse twice!

I had already planned my fishing before the vacation, even to the extent that I knew the spot on the rocks that I would fish. Last year I caught some great ballan wrasse from the mark and was excited about returning. The only difference is that this time round I decided to start with a float set-up as opposed to the two-snood paternoster leger rig I fished last year. Firstly it was a practical decision – fishing over rocks and weed I lost a lot of tackle. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I really fancied the idea of float fishing. And as always, fishing has to be first and foremost about enjoyment. So I started with a float and enjoyed it so much that I stayed with it right through the week.

I fished with a cigar shaped float and preferred a non-weighted one, as the slight cock of the float was very useful with the initial attention of the fish when they weren’t biting that freely. Other times they were in a feeding frenzy though and the float powered away beneath the surface in a split second. I set it at various depths, depending on the tide, and to that end the power gum knot at the head of the set-up made life easy. Next down was a bead and then the float itself. Below the float I used a 1/2 ounce round lead that was free-running down to a swivel. Then a trace of about a metre to a size 2 Aberdeen pattern hook. On this I threaded half a ragworm (or lugworm when the tackle shop ran out of fresh rag). A simple, yet effective rig that did the business!


Another quality ballan wrasse

Over the week I fished every day from Sunday through till Friday, although most sessions were just over two hours and none were over three. I ended the week with 37 wrasse, 2 pollock and a strange looking rock pool type-fish, that I haven’t been able to research the identity of yet! Most of the wrasse were ballan but I did catch a few colourful corkwing; smaller fish but definitely more beautiful and perhaps more at home in a tropical environment than the waters of the Irish Sea. But overall I do think that the wrasse is one of our most beautiful fish and I certainly appreciate them, which is why I devoted my vacation fishing time to pursuing them.

I really enjoyed the style of fishing, which to me is an important part of angling. The means to the end is just as important as the end itself. If you’re not enjoying it, then sooner or later, even if you are catching good fish along the way, you’ll lose interest. But watching the float bobbing away in the waves had me on the edge of my seat – metaphorically speaking of course, as most of the time I was standing or crouching over the sea. I missed a lot more bites than I had fish, but when the strike resulted in a connection, it was a great feeling, particularly if it was a decent wrasse. Just like my coarse angling, I set my stall out to do business with the bigger fish, although in reality it meant wading through the smaller ones. I did catch some nice ballan wrasse though, including a repeat capture!

A lovely place to fish

The weather was kind to me, and although it was very windy it only rained once, it certainly came with a vengeance on that day. I had no shelter and was absolutely drenched. But it will take more than a drop of the wet stuff to keep me away from fishing! But as always, safety is an issue and I was at least well prepared with good quality boots. Plus the rocks that I fished from gradually eased into the sea as opposed to a sharp drop into deep water. If safety is an important factor in coarse angling, then that is magnified many times over when it comes to the sea. Falling in the canal is bad enough, but dropping into the ocean can have fatal consequences.

I haven’t had space to write about the natural world in this article and even on the accompanying video, time did not allow me to digress too much. But as well as the fishing, I thoroughly enjoyed the wider package. When fishing I had calling ravens overhead, numerous curlew both in flight and on the rocks, oystercatchers, ringed plovers in flight across the bay and a single female wheatear landed on rocks close by. The fact that I was by the coast opened up a whole new world of specific plants and I managed to get a photograph of a wall brown butterfly, which I have just added to the group of images on the home page.

Hope you enjoy the video and if you’re on Twitter follow me! I have just had a new phone with better (and cheaper) internet access, so have joined the gang. I intend to post a lot of tweets from the water’s edge, so I think there may be some of what they call breaking news as it happens! A few people though have contacted me to say I am not coming up on Twitter searches, so type my name without any spaces, for some reason that seems to work.


(click icon above for this week’s video)


(Originally published August 2009)

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