Wrasse in Rockpool

Such a perfect day, wrasse fishing Kimmeridge Bay on a beautiful day, in May.

An impromptu visit to Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset turned out to be excellent decision. I haven’t done much rock fishing from the shore in recent years after knackering my knee while wrasse fishing a few years ago. Thankfully my knee has restrengthened and all I was left with was a knock to my confidence on the rocks. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to get back in the saddle and ease myself back in to rockfishing from the shore, and this day turned out to be the perfect opportunity.

I have fished Kimmeridge Bay for wrasse and bass many times. Certainly enough to understand the tides and any inherent dangers. Of which I’m glad to say are very few at Kimmeridge. The tide was smallish, the sun was out (finally) and the wind was forecast off the land. So, with cliffs behind the best fishing areas the image in my mind was a beautiful one. And for once it compared to the reality.

After a two hour drive to think about the day ahead, I was quite excited to get fishing there again. The only trepidation that remained was whether I would still fit in my waders after so long. Thankfully I did!

This trip was all about regaining my confidence on the rocks so I hadn’t set any real targets for the session. I basically decided that I would be a happy with avoiding a blank as long as I managed not to injure myself. Of course this was all forgotten about the moment I felt the first aggressive bite from a Ballan Wrasse. I was pleased it didn’t take long.

Due to setting the bar so low in terms of my objectives, I had rigged up fairly small from the off. I started with a size 3 ringed offset and a bean sinker, free rig style. Lure wise, starting where I left off on the boat the other day with a 2.8″ Method Shad by Illex. It’s a great little lure for free rigging, with a wide profile. The water was crystal clear so this time I opted for a natural looking Ayu colour-scheme.

First fish was a small but perfectly formed Ballan Wrasse of 25cm. Of course the size didn’t matter. I had avoided the blank. The sun was shining. It felt good to be back.

Next cast and a more substantial fish of 36cm came to the net. It was starting to feel like the session had potential.

And so the day continued much like that. I had the place to myself so I enjoyed walking around the points exploring where the wrasse were feeding. Bites were pretty constant once you found the fish. So it was a good day to build on my understanding of the fishing marks. Where the fish were feeding at what state of tide, and so on.

I was enjoying myself with the constant flow of activity and thus didn’t scale up at any point to see if I could find a bigger fish. In fact, briefly, I actually scaled-down at one point, to a size 8 offset and Reins AX Craw Mini, after a flurry of tiny bites failed to convert. The change was rewarded with three brightly coloured Corkwing Wrasse that were carefully returned to their home after a couple of photos.

Active feeding days like this are great to play around with lures. During the day I worked through the following:

* Illex Method Shad 2.8″ in Ayu
* Mars Parallel Shad 2.7″ in Brown Shrimp
* Lucky John Hogy Shrimp 3.5″ in All Stars Flake
* Bottom Up Bulls Hog Baby in Green Pumpkin Chartreuse
* Reins AX Craw Mini in both Watermelon Red and Tomato Craw
* Deps Bull Flat 2″ in Champagne Pepper & Neon Pearl

The majority of these lures are highly regarded for the Free Rig, which I stayed with all day. Only changing hook and weight size depending on what and where I was fishing.

I fished an 8lb HTO Nebula Fluorocarbon leader on Nebula PE0.6 X8 braid. Rod of choice was the Nebula ML 2.1m 5-22g. 2500-sized spinning reel.

Closing tally was 38 wrasse. Including the three Corkwing. I didn’t quite get to the 40-plus centimetre fish that I know live here, with the biggest Ballan Wrasse going 39cm.

A thoroughly enjoyable day by the sea.