Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

From acorns sprout big trees..........

Wrasse. Rockfish. Rockies. Call them what you like. But did you have any idea how much fun you can have chasing these fish on soft lures ? This is Craig Haden with a wrasse close to 4lb that he smashed on a small soft plastic lure virtually right beneath his feet, in broad daylight, and on a light lure rod that I would usually refer to as a "finesse" rod for bass fishing - around 7' long, rated at say 5-21g. Pure out and out sport fishing. Fishing the way it's meant to be - fun. A bunch of mates fishing together, moving around the rocks, sharing information, helping each other out. I love my job because I get to see stuff like this. It's inspiring.

Spending time specifically targeting wrasse on soft lures might well be "niche" right now, but many things start off small. And then grow. Some things really grow a lot. What would you rather do ? Spend a few hours staring at a couple of often very motionless rod tips in a 6' tripod, or grab a few lures, ring a few mates up, and get out on the rocks and get that adrenaline pumping. Sport fishing is what I am about, and hard scrapping fish like wrasse on really light gear is just massive fun. Where might this stuff go ? It's different, but it really, really works. The sheer numbers of all kinds of fish that these guys are catching proves it.

But much as wrasse are often (thankfully) a prolific shore species, don't make the mistake of thinking this is no more than chucking bits of plastic out there and cleaning up. No way. This is one big learning curve, and that kind of things really floats my boat. A species I have spent entirely too many hours chasing over the years, indeed the first ever saltwater fish I ever caught was a wrasse. Or "rockie" as they call them over here. Cool name. I reckon I was kind of ok at smashing wrasse on bait - but how much sport are you really going to get with a big beachcaster ? Specifically targeting these magnificent fish on small soft plastics is like starting all over. Back to the drawing board and engage the brain. There are some anglers over here in Jersey that deserve one massive dollop of respect for what they are doing with our sport. I spend time around all kinds of fishermen. Lots are good. Some are outstanding. But a few are what I call "off the scale". I consider it a privilege to spend time around these kinds of people.

A big thing about what these guys are doing is about actually catching fish, and often lots and lots of fish. Blanking is simply not for them virtually all the time. What has struck me most is that fishing soft plastics for wrasse is not just some gimmick where it's done just for doing its sake. No way. This is lethally effective fishing. These Jersey lads are catching lots and lots of fish, and they have having a huge amount of fun doing so. Catching fish and learning all about how to catch more and more while you are doing it. The sharing of information and ever-evolving techniques is an important part of this as well. Groups of anglers are getting together and going out fishing together. And I have not even got on to how effective this kind of approach can be for species like pollack. Now they really go as well on very light tackle. We keep coming back to the word fun - this is fishing that will make anybody smile. It's inspiring stuff. You could do worse than participate on the Lure Forum right here, and keep an eye on blogs such as Keith White's here. This is modern fishing, and as such, the information about it is moving in lots of different ways.

I can not tell you much how much more I have learned about lure fishing over here in Jersey. You would not believe how slowly you need to fish soft plastics to catch wrasse, indeed most of the time the fish are actually hitting you when your lure is doing nothing. Taking the big leap of faith that lures really do smash wrasse and then that your soft lure really can be working when it's doing nothing is key to this fishing. Believing for example that your lure is effectively "fishing" as it drops down through the water column (hold on, especially for bass and pollack), or that literally "shaking" your rod tip while the soft lure lies on the bottom can drive wrasse mad, these kinds of things are absolute key. Confidence comes from catching, of course it does. Catching fish is just a lot of fun. Catching fish on tackle that allows you to have a properly sporting experience but also safely land them is a whole different world. Much as I love my bass fishing, lure fishing is of course about a whole lot more. What a mind-blowing few days.........

Oh, and although it's June and it hardly seems to get dark, Keith and Kevin White did take me out might lure fishing for bass last night. But I don't mean going lure fishing as the sun drops. I am on about not even starting fishing until well after it has got properly dark. No "maybe" casts. No lures hitting the water until the rest of the world are in bed. And on soft plastic lures as well, using the kind of gear that the guys use for the wrasse. Trusting that really small soft plastics can work in pitch black. Having the confidence to slow right down and let your lure do its thing. But does it actually work ? Holy cow does it work !!!!!!! That is all I am going to say for now.......................more to come in due course. Completely and utterly mind-blowing lure fishing. Time now to pack my gear up and fly back home.