Over the past few months I’ve been really targeting wrasse, a species I’ve really come to enjoy fishing for due to the great ability to put a bend in the rod. To be honest the weather we have had has not exactly been ideal, and at times has been more the conditions for bass. The problem is though that when you have been catching wrasse and you know they are there its really hard to not try for them. Especially when its deep dark winter and the thought of nailing anything on a lure is a huge thrill. It’s been far from frantic action and there has been a couple blanks when the weather is seriously crappy, but I’ve been getting them slowly and steadily. Also the average size has been slowly improving, ok I have not had any donkeys but plenty big enough for some good sport.
I’ve found that I’ve needed to move around a lot more to find them from different marks and to find the most suitable conditions. Also my whole approach has been slowed down. I’ve been using heavier weights to allow me to pin the lure to the bottom and really work the lure in and around all the holes. I’ve not really been imparting much movement into the lure either, just the odd twitch and letting the lure sit on the bottom still for a moment. Most of my fish have hit me just after starting to retrieve after a pause. I can only imagine that they see it pause so they go and investigate and as soon as it try’s to move off again they nail it. Also with all the fish I have been hooking its been different to what I would normally expect from a wrasse, usually you would always get some little tap that warns you that you’re about to get munched. Lately though there’s been nothing and then I have a fish hooked, no aggressive hit or sharp bite. It’s as if they are not hitting it aggressively rather just picking it up in their mouth and swimming off. That however doesn’t mean that when they realise they are hooked its a lame fight because for me they seem to be fighting as hard as they ever have. On the flip side when I have been getting bites and indicators that there are willing fish out there the bites are so small and finicky its impossible to hook. Whether this is maybe the smaller fish just messing around with the lures I don’t know but it can drive you crazy. I went out recently with a couple guys Keir and Mike over in Brixham and they both caught fish while I failed too. The frustrating part was that I knew there were fish there as they kept reminding me by gently knocking the lure once every half hour. Then right at the end of the day when I had a solid bite and hooked into something decent he cuts me clean of on a rock!
Another observation from these past months is that the fish that I am hooking have all been under my feet, for me I love catching them close in under the rod tip. You by far get the best fight out of them this way, its just a straight tug of war up and down. I find sometimes with wrasse hooked further out that after the first few pumps of the reel when the fish has been turned then its a case of the fish surfacing and you just dragging it along the surface. I must say the highlight of the past few months for me was a wrasse that smashed me right under my feet. The thing that makes this that bit better was the fact that I saw the fish nail the lure, now that’s something to put a smile on your face watching a soft plastics get nailed by a decent wrasse in early January. I was fishing a mark that had a habit of chucking up better sized fish right under your feet, ok the conditions were not great with a strong onshore breeze and a reasonable amount of swell to deal with but at least I had the clarity. No previous bites or interest and to be fair I was ready to move to the next mark, but I persisted with a few more casts. Just as I was pulling the lure up over the last ledge a wave started to break actually picking my lure up in the barrel where I could see it, next thing from right under the ledge a wrasse appears and smashes me. Now that is something to get the heart going, trying to keep that strong fresh fish up and away from the holes and then to land it in horrible waves and swell.
As far as lures go I have been using a select few that are tried and tested and certainly do the business. These being a selection of Z-man and Molix soft plastics, with my two favourites being the Molix Sligozzo and the Z-man Punch Crawz. Both these lures have caught me good fish and when times have been hard, they have always seemed to tempt that one more wrasse. As usual I have stuck with the neutral looking colours with greens, browns and bluey colours. One thing that of late has become apparent is that scented lures really are seeming to make a difference. I’ve never really paid much attention to scented lures or at least not bought them for that reason. After speaking to Keir when fishing with him he was saying that a lot of his wrasse had fallen to scented lures and his normal lures were not getting much attention. Now at first it didn’t really sink in for me to really think about but as the weather got worse and the clarity got worse I thought it might be worth a try just to experiment. I remember buying a packet of Z-man scented Pogeyz a while back and never really using them so I dug them out and took them along with me on a wrassing session last weekend. At first I used my usual lures changing between a good few with absolutely nothing, no bites. So with nothing to lose I rigged up a Z-man Pogeyz on a 10g Texas rig and started fishing, at first there was nothing so it got me thinking the scent might not really affect the fishing but then I got smashed by a nice size wrasse at my feet. Well, that certainly got my attention and I continued fishing. I was moving about between marks a bit always starting with my standard unscented lures. When I had tried all I could I put on the scented lure and not long after I was into a fish. I only had 4 in total but all fell to the scented Z-man Pogeyz, and I only put that lure on after I had tried with all my standard lures first. So for me that is some pretty conclusive evidence that in this bad weather with bad visibility the scent on a lure really can make that difference between blanking and catching.