Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Wrasse on plastics - eating or attacking them ? Thoughts please......

If you have spent as much time as I used to bait fishing for wrasse, then the fact that these wonderful fish are now a perfectly viable lure quarry is potentially going to mean a lot to you. It does to me. It gives us saltwater anglers another great fish to go and target with lures. Take my mate Del over in the Isles of Scilly - for some weird reason they don't tend to get bass over there, but he's been itching to get into this whole wrassing on plastics thing for a while now. Yes, they do get some awesome pollack fishing over there, but the fact that he can now smash almost silly numbers of wrasse on lures gives a guy like Del another whole avenue now. And when I say silly, I mean silly - he had 39 wrasse a week ago in one session, and mostly in around 4' of water. The first ever time he went out to try this kind of fishing just before Xmas he landed nearly 20 wrasse, with the biggest a shade under 6lbs. I call that class fishing in anybody's book........oh, and it's still January by the way.

I was on the phone with Del the other day and something he said got my brain ticking. I know he used to sometimes specifically target wrasse using live blennies/gobies (never quite sure which one is correct) for bait. Now Del is the first to admit that he is very new to this wrassing on plastics thing, but to give the guy his dues he is one hell of an angler and has a good habit of working things out for himself very quickly. I know he is fishing much shallower water than when he used to bait fish for the wrasse, and a lot of the time now he is actually able to see the fish hitting his plastics. Is that sight fishing for wrasse or not ? Very cool either way !!

Del told me that over certain kinds of ground when he Texas rigs a goby/blennie imitation soft plastic, the wrasse can go extra specially loopy. Sure, he's catching his fish on all manner of plastics and I reckon having a lot of fun trying the different stuff out (sorry for aiding in the this new addiction mate !!), but already Del is sometimes seeing extra aggression towards a goby imitation. He said that over clean sand patches around rocks that the wrasse are showing a marked interest in prawn imitation plastics for example. Knowing how he used to sometimes use a live blennie/goby for wrasse bait, must we now assume that those wrasse he is catching are seeing that soft plastic goby as an imitation of something they would eat and are therefore hitting it for that reason ? Or, as I know some anglers believe, are wrasse actually only hitting soft plastics out of pure aggression, indeed perhaps territorial based aggression from the larger ones ?

Does it make sense what I am asking here ? I believe I am right in thinking that the general consensus is that yes, wrasse are seeing say a senko, an XLayer or a goby imitation as a source of food and are smashing into it like they might hit a peeler crab or worm bait. But could it be the case that other anglers who believe that wrasse will not "naturally" hit a lure and are doing so out of simple aggression are correct ? I go to a kind of fishing here like working those massive poppers for GTs. I can't remember seeing one single popper-like fish fleeing across the surface out in the Seychelles late last year, but then GTs would smash into poppers like it was going out of fashion. But why ? Do they see that popper as some new, strange source of food, or are they that aggressive that they simply can't abide a popper working across the surface and have to go and kill it ? My own opinion is that GTs have a very serious aggression problem and can't help but try to kill that popper - but what do I really know ? I'm just guessing in the end and I can't argue for or against my opinion. It's just that. An opinion.

The simple fact is that I don't think we can really say a definitive yes or no here, and that I suppose is a part of what makes fishing so absorbing. Those unanswerable questions. But we are anglers, and of course we have thoughts and opinions. What do you think about the wrasse actually trying to eat a soft plastic as a food source, or smashing them out of anger, territory etc. ? I would love to try and do an article for Sea Angler magazine on this very subject, but it would not be right for me to just write it about my own thoughts and opinions here when there is simply no right or wrong. I would really love to know what you guys think here, so please give me some comments and/or emails if you are happy to let me take them and work them into an article. Credit will be given of course. There are no rights or wrongs here, but please do tell me what you think.......

Henry Gilbey26 Comments