|Improve Your Wrasse Fishing|
All Wrasse species live in rocky areas and are adapted to feed on animals found in this environment such as shellfish and crustaceans. They also tend to live in relatively shallow water and are rarely found offshore, meaning they can be easily targeted at the shore by sea anglers. Wrasse also have a highly unusual life cycle as they are all born female and remain this way until the fish is between 4-14 years old and then some of the fish will become male. This is determined by the group’s need to increase its numbers.
Their numbers have exploded and while global warming is the popular theory behind their push northwards, it is more likely their hunt for food that has encouraged them to spread their fins. The decline of several of the important commercial species, like Cod, has resulted in an untapped supply of food inshore. This has enabled many species to thrive with Pouting, Whiting and Dabs among the small fish that have enjoyed the windfall.
Wrasse have cashed in on the benefits of the natural food mountain, while also exploiting the maze of coastal protection boulder structures erected by man to buffer the coast from storms and erosion.
The toothy and not unattractive Wrasse have become far more common all around our coastline and their occupation of the large rock groynes, piers and reefs have provided them with stepping stones into and up the North Sea.
Some anglers believe that only one species of Wrasse warrants serious angling attention and that is the largest, the Ballan Wrasse. The Ballan Wrasse is equipped to survive in the most hostile sea environment with its broad tail and long dorsal fins giving it great manoeuvrability and power in a confined area, even in a heaving swell.
The Ballan Wrasse’s normal colour matches the surrounding sea bed and kelp, so expect some rich brown and greens, while some mature fish, usually those that have changed sex to males, take on a range of bright reds and oranges, some with white spots, all aiding camouflage.
Small Wrasse are a great starter species for youngsters because most piers, harbours and breakwaters hold a population, so there is no casting required. Simply lower your bait down.
Find one Wrasse and you will always find more. Unfortunately, this also means that easily-reached Wrasse marks get exploited with the bigger fish getting caught and only tiddlers remaining.
Best venues to find the largest specimens are remote rugged cliff faces and rich kelp reefs with specimen Wrasse fishing rather specialised and, in some cases, dangerous. On some rugged coasts the bigger fish are found just feet under the surface so beware of fishing too deep for them. You can also catch them extremely close to where you are standing.
Wrasse will fight hard and dirty, and they will do all they can to break you over the rocks, so you wantto be giving them as little chance of doing this as possible, and you can fight them like this
without breaking rods, lines and reels.
They live in tight groups around a particular bolthole and casting accurately can make a difference. Look for these holes in the rock face. Wrasse take advantage of the swell and feed where marine life may be dislodged by the wave action.
A great tactic for catching big wrasse from a cliff edge is to fish the bait away from the rock face. Hold the rod out and draw the fish away from its bolthole where you have a better chance of stopping the fish snagging you up.
|HTO Hyper Sniper Rod|
Strike, pump and reel quickly to get the fish away from the rocks. In a casting situation bites will be similar, but you must react quickly, pump the rod and reel at the first sign of a bite. Stopping to feel if the fish is hooked is inviting trouble as Wrasse are adept at chewing baits to shreds.
Due to most Wrasse catches only being a few feet in front of you, you can afford to leave your beachcaster at home and pick up a modern, fast-action spinning, LRF or lighter lure rods. Don’t worry about a lack of lifting power because you’ll soon find you can pile on all the pressure you need to subdue 4lb-plus Wrasse.
|Savage Gear Salt CCS Lure Rod|
|Shimano Nasci Front Drag Spinning Reel|
|Berkley Whiplash 8 Strand Braid|
Using a fluorocarbon or mono leader when using braid as mainline is a must. It allows you to incorporate abrasion resistance into a braid set up as well as making your sea rigs less visible to fish.
|Soft Plastic Caught Bass|
When bumping soft plastics along the bottom, the more you can feel, the more you will catch. A braid mainline is so much better in this respect than mono.
|Ecogear Rock Claw|
A change of colour can sometimes be just what is needed, yet at other times they will hit any colour lure you happen to put in front of them. It’s always good practice to carry soft plastics in at least a dark green, brown, black and a darkish purple or blue. Use this as a rough guide and then move on from there.
|1 Hook Flapper Rig|
|2 Hook Flapper Rig|
|Baitbox Peeler Crab|
Despite their rugged looks wrasse are a delicate species so return them at water level if possible. They will not survive a long drop from a cliff top.
In most cases they stick close to any rock ledge or cave, pier edge or weed fringe. So potentially any underwater feature will have a family of Wrasse. The exciting thing to remember, from an angler’s point of view, is the Wrasse’s ability to power-dive. Wrasse rarely roam far from a bolthole and when danger threatens they head for the nastiest snag they can find and it’s your job to stop that happening.
This is where the powerful elastic bend of an LRF rod comes into play and although the rod will bend it will stop the fish. Keep applying the pressure and you should be able to gain ground on the fish by keeping the rod high and not giving it line, let that rod bend and do the work. It will quickly tire the Wrasse and enable you to get it to the surface quickly where you can slip a net under it and land the fish. It is a brutal fight and the rod will bend in an eye bulging hoop, but that is what LRF rods are designed to do and once you realise how much abuse a standard LRF rod will take you can approach these big fish situations with confidence.
This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler magazine.