Proper Wrasse

So I tried to do something other than fishing for the last couple of days but the lure of a large ballan wrasse was just too much to handle and I really did want to catch a good one before heading west again.

seagulls surveying the water

Having spoken to divers, I knew there were specimen sized fish lurking in amongst the weeds that hug the Dublin shoreline and I wanted to connect with one or two of them. Having been hung up in snags by a couple of large fish over the last few sessions, I could not rest until I had captured the culprits.

Armed with ragworm, I returned to the Dublin coastline for what would probably have been my last attempt at finding them before I depart for Galway.

Coinciding my arrival with high water, I paddled out past the seagulls standing sentinel on the rocks and headed for the rougher ground. Based on previous form, I decided that drifting would be the order of the day and lowered my bait to start fishing.

Almost instantly, the rod signalled bites and I lifted into the first wrasse of the day. After a couple of spirited pulls and dives I soon had it beaten and posing for the camera; a decent start.

the first ballan wrasse of the day the poor cod back to the smaller wrasse getting smaller! growing again!

Down went the bait a second time and a very delicate bite was investigated by lifting the rod tip. The rod bucked over as a powerful fish dived for the seaweed. Turned, I managed to get a couple of turns on the reel before it dived again, this time finding the weed quite successfully. Everything locked up and all I could feel was dead weight from the snag.

I knew this was the fish I had come for so I applied as much pressure as I dared. Nothing. I tried a technique that is quite useful at coaxing tench out of reeds on the lakes – I let the line go slack and this encouraged the wrasse to bolt from this hiding place and the second round of the battle commenced. A second lunge into the weed, I was able to extract the fish a little easier this time, steady pressure doing the job.

the first of the 'proper' ballan wrasse

I got the wrasse to the surface and just looking at it told me that it was specimen sized. A quick check told me everything I needed to know – at 48cms/19 inches and 5lb 2ozs/2.25kg it was well and truly above specimen weight. A cracking fish, it’s splayed and ragged tail fin telling me that this was an old warrior of the reef. After a quick photograph it was returned to the watery depths.

Dropping another bait saw me come into contact with a poor cod almost immediately. A world apart from the specimen ballan wrasse but I need not have worried; my subsequent drop resulted in another fine wrasse. At  45cms and not quite as heavy as the previous it was still a capture to be proud of. Specimen wrasse that are like busses; you wait for ages on one and then two turn up at the same time!

the second, slightly smaller wrasse

The session continued with a procession of smaller fish, mainly wrasse, coming to the kayak. I did connect with a short spined sea scorpion again and I have included a photograph for those interested in having a look at one. Admittedly it is somewhat blurred so I’m hoping that next time I can capture an image with a macro lens, it will make for a much clearer image.

One thing that I have noticed in the past and that occurred today was that the sea scorpion vibrated when he was sitting on the palm of my hand. There was no audible sound from the fish but I am theorising that perhaps these fish can vocalise much the same way that some of the Amazonian catfish can? I must look into this when I return to college.

another wrasse with interesting colouration another nicely marbled wrasse wrasse abound, a darker fish this time a closer look at a short spined sea scorpion the final wrasse of the session

the giant seal comes in for a closer look

The story nearly complete, I started to head back to the harbour, satisfied that my mission had gone full circle. It was then that I noticed the enormous bull seal that I mentioned last time. I snapped a picture of him this time but unfortunately there is nothing to scale him against so it is very difficult to appreciate his size. I stopped paddling to get a good look at him to which he duly obliged, coming very close to the kayak indeed. When he started diving either side of me and looking for a playmate was when I decided I had seen enough! I left the giant to his watery domain and with a satisfied grin, I headed for home…..


Gary Robinson

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