Wrasse (Ballan) are often overlooked by many sea lure anglers which is a great shame as this fish is an outstanding fighter, always ready to play and just perfect for a quick session from the edge. No need to use finesse techniques as this rock loving thug will only have one aim once hooked: getting back to where it came from. All you need is some adequate fishing gear, a small selection of lures and you're ready to have some salty fun fishing for these colourful bundles of muscle and teeth!
So, to start with, some info on this fish. From the Labridee family they love weedy, rocky areas where they can hide and hunt. All wrasse are born female and on reaching sexual maturity, around 6 years of age, about half of them become males, which can then mate with the remaining females. You can fish them all year round be it from the shore or from a boat but mainly during daytime as at night they "sleep" laying on the bottom . Its dentition can be impressive and enables it to eat indistinctly shellfish, fish, crustaceans... They will eat almost anything they can scour and scavenge on the seabed, lure fishing is therefore a perfect technique to use when fishing for wrasse. The technique I prefer is texan style rigged soft baits as they enable to fish for them no matter where they are hiding without losing half a ton of gear. The basic setup is a size 2/0 to 4/0 off-set hook, 0.28 to 0.35 HARD MONO terminal leader, 0.17°° braid and 7 to 21g bullet weights depending on the spot fished. Don't forget a stop-float to keep the weight from sliding up your line and a bead to protect the knot.
Texas style rig, ideal to go and get the wrasse in the thick of it.
For the rest of the gear, the YURAI S 210-H rod and the GUNKI SWG FV 400 reel and you've got the perfect combo. Sufficiently light to be fished with for hours, with outstanding casting capacities and a backbone that will enable you to stop those crazy fish screaming back into their lair. The bite is often wrist wrenching and the 1st rush will make the reel's brake sing, but you must show the fish who is in command or risk breaking off on the bottom. As soon as they are hooked, they will swim like fury into the closet clump of weeds or rocky outcrop. If a fish manages to wedge itself into something, slacken your line and wait for it to swim back out. After each fish, remember to check your leader and change it if in anyways damaged.
Wrasse gear: YURAI S 210-H, GUNKI SWG FV 400, COLOR BRAID, SPECIALIST HARD MONO & GUNKI G’BUMP.
Catching them is not very complicated et even non-anglers can catch their first wrasse if they are fishing in the right spot. You must keep your lure just above or between where the fish could be potentially hiding. All you need to do is to reel slowly, stopping every now and then and letting your rig sink to the bottom. Forget the white sandy areas but fish the rocky, weedy and "mucky" spots. Transitions zones, rocks to weeds, rocks to sand... often trigger bites as the fish will follow the lure and, lacking cover, will feel vulnerable and grab the prey before shooting back to safety. If you see a dark shape behind your lure, let it drop to the bottom, reel fast and get ready for impact!
Wrasse, anyone can catch them!
Lure wise I must admit that I really like the 8cm Green Shiner GUNKI G’BUMP, but I have also had great results on the GUNKI GRUBBY SHAD, the GUNKI V2IB and the GUNKI WHIZ which is the easiest one to rig texas style. The colour selection is quite easy, I usually use a natural colour, a white one and a flashy one. In order to extend your lure's lifespan, glue the nose of it to the hook and also pack a cigarette lighter to do on spot repairs. Like when pike fishing, if you get a bite, check your lure and if it has teeth marks then you've been "wrassed"!
A wrasse or as we call them in Brittany, the Breton grouper!
Yannick, Fishing Guide in Brittany, France