Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Wrasse fishing with plastics - here to stay or just some gimmick ?

I accept that some fish will always inspire a higher state of "devotion" if you like - fish like the Atlantic salmon, bass, permit, wild brown trout, marlin, tarpon etc., but what I will never understand is how some anglers then end up finding some of the "lesser" fish almost beneath them if you like. I would guess that a large percentage of saltwater anglers in the UK and Ireland cut their teeth on wrasse, so why is the wrasse considered to be "humble" by some people ? Whatever floats your boat and all that of course - different kinds of fishing and different kinds of fish all do different things for us, indeed fishing as a whole is so life-absorbing because of those choices we can make. But with the discovery that wrasse are indeed a species of fish that we can legitimately target with soft plastic lures, do we expect this fishing to keep on growing and expanding, or do we reckon on the interest gradually fizzling out over time or just staying a bit "specialist" ?

I know that some anglers will argue that wrasse have always been caught on lures, but the fact is that it was by mistake when we were doing something else. If there are a bunch of people out there who have been smashing wrasse on plastics for years and years without anybody else knowing about it then please accept my apologies, but what's the problem with giving the relevant Jersey lads full credit for discovering this "new" fishery and then doing so much work to help other anglers become aware of it ? If there was proof that the internet can sometimes be a fantastic thing in fishing then surely this is a prime example. I think that wrasse fishing with lures is huge fun to do, and it's a big thanks from me to the guys who found out that this "bait only" species was in fact rather inclined to jump all over soft lures. Would I have found this out by myself ? No, and I am not even going to try and claim that I would have somehow found out about it. Because I wouldn't have.........

If you are an angler who is now fully into catching wrasse on plastics then you have made that leap of faith and are no doubt having a lot of fun with this kind of fishing. Those two days' fishing I have just had with Del over in the Isles of Scilly were about as much fun as I have ever had fishing. But it is also important here to recognise this leap of faith that going wrasse fishing without a scrap of bait really is. Countless anglers grew up bait fishing for wrasse, and countless anglers bait fish for wrasse all around the country. It's a staple part of our saltwater fishing (depending on where you live or fish of course), regardless of the fact that the wrasse is sometimes seen as this "humble" fish. It is not going to change either, and nor should it. Bait fishing for wrasse is huge fun and very effective. But then so is lure fishing for them, and my hope is that they simply co-exist side by side as viable alternatives. Look at this way - isn't it great that a species like the wrasse gives us these options. Much like bass if you think about it. The fact that we have a seemingly growing number of saltwater fish that do actually take lures can only be a good thing for fishing as a whole.

I am not conscious of actively promoting different kinds of fishing, because me talking about stuff is only me being interested in it. If lure fishing had not gone and grabbed me so hard then I guess this blog would be talking a lot more about going out bait fishing with the regular shore gear. I have never had any time for the argument that says "this fishing is better than that fishing". It doesn't wash with me and it does fishing no good. I believe that this wrassing on plastics "movement" can keep on growing as more and more anglers find out about how much simple fun it is to use light lure gear on these feisty fish, but one thing that I am determined to do myself is to keep it all as simple as possible in my approach. If you are into your lure fishing then it makes sense, but then the trick is I believe to be able to almost stand outside of oneself and look back in. What we see as logical and understandable may well seem complicated as hell to an angler who is looking in and thinking about getting involved, and this is something that I think we can forget sometimes. Yes, it might see easy to us, but that's because we do it. Imagine me trying to get into ballroom dancing for example (not a pretty thought I grant you !!) - I am going to look for the most easily understandable way in to it because from the outside looking in it looks quite complicated to me. Like an angler wanting to have a crack at wrasse fishing in plastics. I so hope this kind of fishing keeps on growing, but for me it needs to get out there more into the mainstream if you like, and if I can help do that in some tiny way then I will. I have loved wrasse since I first caught one far too many years ago now, and I hope that many more potential anglers stumble across their charms and begin to realise that you can just as easily and effectively lure or bait fish for them. And have a huge amount of fun doing so..........