Wrasse from North Devons rocky shoreline.

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Combe Martin SAC club member Kyle Bishop has been targetting wrasse from North Devons craggy shoreline enjoying success with ballan wrasse to 4lb 15oz and corkwing to 8oz. Kyle won Combe Martin Clubs July mixed brace competition sponsored by Braunton Baits and stands a good chance of winning the August mixed brace sponsored by High Street Tackle.


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Daniel Welch has been some superb boat sport off Ilfracombe ctaching some stunning wrasse using lure fishing tactics. Dans best wrasse a stunning ballan of 5lb. The sport was shared with his good friend Ross Stanway and son Solly Welch.

“Another fantastic day out on the boat, with perfect weather. The plan for the day was lure fishing with light spinning setups the main target a big ballen and a cuckoo wrasse. The day didn’t disappoint we caught good numbers of decent sized hard fighting pollack on the wrecks on the way down, once at the island we had great sport on the wrasse all catching good sized fish the biggest a boat and lure pb for me of exactly 5lb I also managed my main target and another first for me, catching not one but two cuckoo wrasse on a lure in quick succession. We thought we would pick up some fresh bait to drift for the tope on the way back and found good numbers of large launce and some mackerel. Prime fresh bait but an hour drift only produced one tope we fished some small baits at the same time and picked up weavers, a few gurnard and lots of little whiting. We finished the day off with some more wreck pollack on the way home. Lures used were a mix of slow jigs with single
hooks, creature soft plastics, savagegear Sandeels and black minnow.”

Trip away in search of that big one. – Ollie Passmore writes-

Many thanks to Ollie Passmore for his article on wrasse fishing.

 After a few successful trips away this winter targeting the ballan wrasse a window of prime conditions was forecasted. I knew a rough area that I believed could chuck up a big fish. All set to go with fresh crab and hand dug rag and prawns was our chosen bait. Arriving at the mark with very simple rigs that consist of a 3 way swivel with a short 80lb hook length and a 2/0 chino hook. Using a rotten bottom set up clipped up with a 15lb line so losing your lead is easily done. This is essential for fishing for wrasse. Wrasse are found generally in rocky areas and getting snags are often part of this fishing. Losing the lead is the best way of getting your kit back and also not tethering these fish up. 70lb braid is what I use for wrasse fishing so almost every time you get snagged you manage to get your trace back with either a bent out hook or lost lead. From first cast to last, baits where getting smashed. Lost count on the amount of fish we had over the two sessions. Most fish being around 3lb, and all being a variety of colours and patterns. Kody and myself where releasing the fish at sea level. This is important for the fish to go back well as they are fragile and tend to belly up if not treated correctly. Deep hooked fish I have found that it is best to just cut the hook length as they will often float away if you start digging around inside to try get your hook back. Wrasse are very important fish for our oceans as they keep the reefs and coral healthy and free from parasites and other things. But with a bit of fish care these fish will go back to carry on doing there important job that they were designed to do. Best fish of the session was a 4lb 4oz and a PB for me of 5lb 6oz. Kody landed lots of 3lb fish and some close to 4lb. It was a shame he didn’t get that 4lb fish. All in all, it was a trip to remember and has continued my passion and eagerness to get back out at the water’s edge targeting these very special fish that we have in our UK waters.

Bideford Angling Club & Appledore Shipbuilders – August Rover

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Bideford August rover results 

13 angler’s fished 3 fish caught 

1st Tony Gussin  – Ballan wrasse 4lb 0 1/2oz 89.582%

2nd Stephen Found –  thick-lipped mullet 3lb 2oz 78.125%

3rd Tony Gussin  -Ballan wrasse 3lb 3oz 70.832%


11 people fished Appledore Shipbuilders August rover. “Lots may think that fishing at this time of year is easy but many will know that it’s always a tricky month. Several anglers reported fishing more than one mark to try and locate a fish eligible to be weighed in over 60%”
Winning today was Andrew Atkinson who caught a nice Ballan Wrasse of 4lb 6 3/4 ozs. Josh Atkinson was second with a Smoothound of 8lb 6ozs.  Andrew also secured 3rd with a Bull Huss of 7lb 2ozs.


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Many thanks to Kody Chugg and Ollie Passmore for sending me this account of their recent trip to Cornwall in search of wrasse.

Got up early hours of the morning, and set off down to Cornwall. Sun shining and a favoured wind in search of a big ballan wrasse. Several marks ventured, fishing crystal clear water. Lots of little taps with baits getting stripped by little wrasse. Last mark we went to we were fishing over low. Missing some really good runs from hook pulls. We both managed to catch a good few fish together.

Fish care with wrasse is vital. These are fragile fish that need to be taken care of, unhooking carefully and resting in pools. Wrasse definitely are in decline compared to years gone by, due to commercial fishing, and taken to Scottish salmon farms. Wrasse are so valuable for the seas Eco system and keeping reefs and corals etc healthy. Great fun fishing and each one being so different and remarkable colours. Crab and hermits doing the business. All on running ledger rigs with 1/0 circle hooks. All in all a great day fishing!

Footnote :- Reading Ollie and Kody’s article takes me back to a trip I enjoyed to the South Cornish coast almost forty years ago with Combe Martin SAC secretary Nick Phillips. A couple of days were spent exploring the rugged coastline where we landed several specimen wrasse the best If my memory serves me correct pulled the scales to 6lb 8oz a fish that is still my PB. Wrasse of over 5lb were comparatively common back then both in Cornwall and along the North Devon coast where I landed fish to 5lb 15oz. I mention this as it highlights how fishing for wrasse has declined over four decades.

Ballans on the coast

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Combe Martin SAC member Ross Stanway caught this stunning wrasse of 3lb 7.5oz on a recent trip to a  North Devon Rock Mark. Big wrasse have become harder to find in recent years. During the 1980’s wrasse of over 5lb were a regular feature in fishing competitions. It is unclear why the population of these beautifully marked fish have declined. They are caught in large numbers and shipped to Scotland for use in fish farms where they control the sea lice that infest the salmon but I am not aware of a large number being taken from the North Devon coast.