It's fine to be around it, photograph it, and then write about it, but nothing beats actually doing it yourself. One of the real plus points to my job is getting to work around so many different anglers - if I did not learn different fishing related things through my work then there would be something seriously wrong with me. Or perhaps there is already. I must admit that it really fired me up the other day over in Jersey to actually get the chance to pick up one of those new Century HPR rods and actually smash a few wrasse on plastics myself. So I then took what I have learnt out on some rocks in south Cornwall the other day, just before those howling easterlies beat us up all over the Bank Holiday weekend..............
We timed it to arrive just on the first of the flooding tide, and I can't tell you how high my expectations were running after finally beginning my whole getting to grips with this plastics fishing for wrasse over in Jersey. I keep thinking back to how much fun I used to have spending all that time fishing for wrasse, and I guess that the fact that in my mind they are now a more than legitimate lure quarry is almost rekindling my respect and adoration for these feisty little fish.
But no bites were forthcoming, save for a couple of little taps. Where we had chosen to fish gave us access to both fairly deep water and also some much shallower stuff that was covering over with the flooding tide. I took the decision to forget playing around in the deeper water and instead cast my lure out into the shallow stuff - to immediate effect !! OK, so the wrasse was hardly on the large side, but I can not tell you how made up I felt when I managed to grab it, unhook it and then slip it back. I am sure we have all caught plenty of wrasse over the years when out chasing pollack or bass, but this was my first ever mainland UK wrasse caught when deliberately targeting them on soft plastics. HRF, LRF, call it what you will, but in my mind it's just another hugely fun side to lure fishing that I reckon a lot of anglers could start enjoying.
That first fish jumped on the hook so hard I could not have missed it if I tried, but I guess a little overexcitement (who, me ?) got hold of me and I then proceeded to miss a bunch more takes. Some were so gentle I never bothered to hit them, but a few I struck so hard and fast that a flying fish would have struggled to keep up with me. Calm down was the order of the day and I did land another one. We did not fish for long, but to me it was about as much fun as it gets, and in the end that is all I can ask for. Simple stuff, nothing complicated, but huge scope for the future, and already I feel I am improving with the whole "feel" thing on the plastics.
I was using a Texas style rig with I think around a 7g cone weight and a size 2 weedless hook - learning all the time I am, and loving it. Try as I might I did not lose a single bit of end gear which I have to admit really surprised me. I did start off by using a lighter cone weight, but with a little bit of swell rolling around I did not feel properly "connected" to my end gear if that makes sense. I am also going to drop to a 15lb 8-strand braid for the wrasse as I felt my 20lb 8-strand was "dragging" too much through the water. Henry going finesse ? I don't know if the lads in Jersey the other day realised just how much about how they were fishing (so well I might add) that I took on board, but when I am photographing I am also watching all the time.
I remember seeing all those Reins products on Mick's shelf when I was last in his shop, and I had my eyes on some of the smaller 3'' Reins Rockvibe Shads for trying out on the wrasse. They seem to be as tough and long lasting as I hoped they might be when I bought them, but the main thing for me was that the wrasse jumped on the little paddletails. But what really made my weekend was hearing from a good friend that he went out bassing but never saw a sniff of a fish - I know that sounds all wrong, but I was not jumping for joy that he blanked on the bass. Please read on !! So he then decides what the heck, let's see what Henry has been banging on to me about on the phone. He drops down with a jig head and a soft plastic and proceeds to smash a bunch of wrasse on the early flooding tide. I even got him to admit to me that he loved it, and especially because he could actually watch the wrasse around his lure. Bring it on.