The Isles of Scilly - wrasse heaven ?
I've never been a competition angler and I genuinely don't give a stuff if somebody lands more or bigger fish than me. I don't need to see monster fish all the time and fifty million of the things means little to me. All I want out of my fishing is to have fun with good people in cool places, and this wrassing on plastics is exactly that. Del and I had another epic day on them yesterday. I kept on telling myself that this was February and not the middle of summer as we hit fish after fish from a bunch of different marks he's got on St. Mary's that fish at various stages of the tide. It's beginning to feel a lot more normal now NOT to be wrasse fishing with a bucket of peeler and a cloth bag full of lead weights that will mostly end up snagged in the bottom. One "little" rod, one "little" reel, a bunch of soft plastic lures, a few weedless hooks, some worm weights (cone-shaped weights) and a bit of leader material. Not exactly complicated.
Del's always caught heaps of wrasse, pollack and mullet in the Isles of Scilly, but I can see how him switching on to wrasse especially in a whole new light has without doubt given him a big lift. We spent most of yesterday fishing some really shallow water for the wrasse, and on a few occasions we either saw wrasse chasing the lures in and then grabbing them or turning away, or else we saw the odd fish mooching around the edge and like a couple of kids we tried to "sight fish" to them. On Saturday I saw a couple of wrasse swimming around in mid-water tight to the rock ledge I was standing on. I wound in as fast as I could, dropped my lure in front of them, jigged it around a bit, and one of the wrasse grabbed it !! I would expect that kind of reaction from a pollack, but a wrasse ? This is making me think through a lot of stuff again and I love that.
We have been fishing exclusively into and over some very rough ground for the two days that I was in the Isles of Scilly, and especially on St. Mary's on the Sunday. I mean properly rough ground where you would have taken extreme gear loss as a part and parcel of bait fishing it. Huge boulder fields, holes, gullies, ledges, drop-offs, weed, you name it, it has been some proper wrasse ground. Two full days of chasing these things and catching mad numbers of them and I lost precisely three sets of end gear - that equates to a few soft plastics, 3 x 1/0 weedless hooks, 3 x 7g worm weights and some leader material. I am fishing these plastics Texas-style. Yes, jig heads work great, but over the ground we were fishing we would have lost a silly amount of them. Tucking that hook away ("skinning" the lure as Keith showed me in Jersey last year) is so important to guard against losing loads of gear. It goes without saying that you are going to lose some plastics as fish chomp them, rip them off or just break them down, but I bet in total I lost about a couple of packets spread over the different ones I was playing around with. That is cheap style of fishing if you ask me, and of course it can be lethally effective. I will never work out why some anglers are almost "snooty" about wrasse - what is there not to like about catching hard scrapping, often very obliging fish on light gear ?
We had some decent fish yesterday as well, including three 5lb wrasse in consecutive casts. The average size of fish was bigger than on Saturday and I would put money on Del connecting with good numbers of 6lb plus wrasse this year on soft lures. One thing we did find yesterday was that the colour of the lures really made a difference. Del is finding very quickly that green and brown soft lures are doing the best for him overall, with purple and (weirdly) a bright chartreuse (yellowy green) doing well sometimes, and yesterday I made sure to experiment again. I was catching fish and getting plenty of bites for example on a 4'' dark green senko and then I changed to a bright blue version and the bites stopped. A light, almost see through green lure got me no bites as well. Back to the (dark, "watermelon") green senko and I got fish again. Even when we had a bit of a loopy fish feeding spell on the top of the tide again you had to be putting the right colour out there to get bites. Please bear in mind here that I am not nearly as far down the road as some of the Jersey lads are, but it's such fun learning and working this stuff out.
The Isles of Scilly really are a bit special. I love living where I do, but I also love the fact that so relatively close are such special places to go and fish/visit as the Channel Islands, Ireland and the Isles of Scilly. Del and I have had a fantastic couple of days and I have to keep on reminding myself that we really did smash all those wrasse in February. This could become a regular winter jaunt for me. All that fishing in the Scillies and so few people doing it. If there is a wrassing on plastics heaven, I think that the Isles of Scilly might well be it - plus what I would argue is some of the best shore fishing for pollack you will find anywhere. Del's new blog is a great way to keep in touch with the fishing over there, and I know that he goes out of his way to help visiting anglers. See you over there sometime soon.........