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Wrasse (Bluethroat)

Fishing for Bluethroat

The wrasse is a unique looking fish found in British waters where there are two main species. The ballan wrasse is a sturdy fish with a thick body which is green or red/rust brown in colour; it can sometimes be tinted blue and has a pleasant pattern with a pale underbelly. The ballan wrasse also has a single dorsal fin which is present across its entire body and has a broad tail fin. It also has powerful jaws armed with small teeth.The cuckoo wrasse is not as broad or as long as its bigger brother and therefore weighs much less on average. It is also one of the most colourful fish in British waters, male cuckoo wrasse have brilliant blue backs with orange-gold sides whilst females have a vivid pink-red body and black spots across their backs. The cuckoo wrasse has one long dorsal fin and a broad tail, although it is much smaller in total than the ballan wrasse.

Wrasse can be caught using a wide range of bait, the best being sandeels and small pieces of fresh fish such as herring, mackerel, pilchard and squid. Ragworms, lugworms, small shellfish, prawns, peeler crabs and soft-backed crabs can also all be used to catch wrasse.The months which offer the best wrasse sport close inshore are May, June, July, August, September and October. These two species of wrasse feed in similar areas – close to the base of inshore rocks, slightly offshore rocks, weed-covered reefs, cracked harbour walls and sandy patches of seabed between rocks and/or reefs. A jig is perfect when fishing over reefs or rocks where you understand that you may lose a trapped weight, but are reluctant to lose swivels, hooks and long lengths of line along with it. Should your weight become inextricably caught amongst the rocks, steady pressure on your line by pulling with gloved hands (do not strain your rod) will break the weaker “light” line attaching weight to the main line. The lighter line should be ABOUT half the breaking strain of the main line. The distance between weight and swivel can vary, but should generally be at least 200 mm (8 inches). The hook should be a minimum of 150 mm (6 inches) from the swivel or blood loop on the main line. This rig is perfect when fishing over reefs or rocks where you understand that you may lose a trapped weight, but are reluctant to lose swivels, hooks and long lengths of line along with it. Should your weight become inextricably caught amongst the rocks, steady pressure on your line by pulling with gloved hands (do not strain your rod) will break the weaker “light” line attaching weight to the main line. The lighter line should be about half the breaking strain of the main line. The distance between weight and swivel can vary, but should generally be at least 200 mm (8 inches). The hook should be a minimum of 150 mm (6 inches) from the swivel or blood loop on the main line.

Not all anglers want to catch wrasse because they are a rough ground species and fishing for them means tackle losses are inevitable. They are also generally small and considered inedible But small fish grow into big fish and now specimens of 4lb-plus are becoming more widely available as the species establish colonies. 

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