CORNISH WRASSE ADVENTURE

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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.

ROCK DWELLING WRASSE

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Andrew Parish used King ragworm purchased at Braunton Bait Box to tempt this handsome ballan wrasse from a mark near Combe Martin. Ballan wrasse were plentiful along the North Devon coast during the 1980’s but catches have not been as good over recent seasons. A contributory factor could be that less anglers target the species these days as they tend to reside in among thick kelp and rock that deters some anglers. It would be great to see some pictures of these fine fish. Crab baits were always favourite for the bigger specimens though king ragworm was always a great bait for numbers of fish. Recent developments have seen wrasse targeted with great success using lures a method that is perhaps underused in North Devon?

Andrew Parish
Andrew Parish