West Cork is home to a range of quality shore fishing opportunities where specimen sized fish are not only a possibility but almost an expectation, ballan wrasse fall into this category. Powerful, muscular fighters dressed in a range of colours, these cracking sport fish provided a wonderful afternoons fishing during a recent foray to an isolated rock mark within Ireland’s rebel county.
Armed with locally collected hard back crab and Wexford ragworm a wrasse hole which had delivered in the past was targeted. On arrival conditions were perfect, overcast and warm due to a southerly breeze, the sea relatively flat with a light swell rising and falling in the gully creating a nice aerated environment so beloved of wrasse. Utilising the services of a 13′ Daiwa surf pole teamed with a Slosh 30 loaded with 30.lb line, I rigged a single hook short snood paternoster weighted by a spark plug and set to work.
Baiting with ragworm, my friend Roger Ball on a fishing holiday from the UK opting for hard back crab, I cast twenty meters out into the foaming gully and let the rig slowly sink back in towards the rock face. Keeping a taught line an immediate hard double knock was simultaneously responded to by striking and reeling at the same time. Over went the rod into its fighting curve as the wrasse bored deep for sanctuary in the waving kelp below.
There is no finesse employed when fishing ballan wrasse, the rule of thumb being get in control by bullying the fish or it will bully you, make no mistake these fish are tough battlers and demand firm respect. At any time a large fish upwards of four or five pounds could hit the bait and a wrasse of this size takes some stopping, testing both tackle and angler with that first crash dive. Even when the initial surge is tamed wrasse continue to fight, twisting, turning, and diving until lifted clear of the water.
Wrasse never cease to amaze with their varying colour schemes, on this occasion mottled olive green to bright orange with blue and red marbled undersides in between. My friends and I took fish after fish averaging 2/3 lbs with the best running just under five pounds, quality shore fishing on what turned out to be a red letter day with pollack to close on ten pounds landed and some fine pound plus dabs, but hey that’s another story…..
For further reading, click on: Bruising Ballan’s.