Another new species to target
Another new species to target
In 2021, the Irish Specimen Fish Committee introduced several new salt water species to the list of targetable fish that can be caught in and around Ireland.
These include, the Short-spined Sea Scorpion, the Shore Rockling and the Corkwing Wrasse. Broadly described as mini-species, these will interest the LRF (Light Rock Fishing) guys along with the usual bunch of Irish specimen hunters. It should be interesting to see what turns up throughout the year.
It has to be noted that the weights-measurements are only suggestions this year, to test the water so to speak. When the committee gathers data throughout 2021, they will be able to come up with suitable challenging sizes for 2022. You have to start somewhere.
I am becoming familiar with these little fellas
So, to start the ball rolling, on the way home from a recent Stingray adventure down in County Kerry, and with a dozen left-over peeler crabs in the cooler box, I looked for a suitable rock mark to try my luck. Hoping for a large Ballan Wrasse, but with a rig designed to find any smaller Corkwings in the vicinity.
What looks like a five minute walk from the car to the headland, turned out to be three quarters of an hour tramp over heather and brambles. Skip eventually gave up, her short legs unable to negotiate the jungle and had to be carried on my shoulder! It proved sensible to be travelling light, a rucksack and a pre-assembled rod sufficed, particularly as this will only be a short session.
Greys Prowla GS, super Wrasse and Pollack rod
By chance, I found myself a potentially fabulous "Wrasse rod" earlier in the year, in the form of the Greys Prowla GS. Light and tippy to cast a float rig, but with bags of power to bully a big fish away from rocks, reef and kelp beds. Teamed with the powerful Penn Spinfisher 360 for a perfectly balanced combo, and loaded with thirty pounds B/S braid. I used this set-up at Muckross Head in Donegal earlier in the year, it felt fabulous but unfortunately I caught little to do the gear justice.
Hooks have to be tough, you cant give large Wrasse any advantage
I like the rig I used back then, so tied up another. Heavy gauge size two hook for Ballans to take a whole Hard-back crab and a size 6 Carp hook on a snood above it. This will be baited with a crab leg or small piece of Limpet or mussel for Corkwings. They have a tiny mouth for picking at tiny food items among barnacles, kelp forests and crevices. I prefer to fish rock marks with at least six metres of depth from low water up, adjusting the float stop accordingly to stay in contact with fish. Tripping a bait gently over the top of kelp beds or along underwater ledges works very well. These are typical food patrol routes for wrasse species.
Fabulous looking Wrasse territory
With depth sorted, crab attached, and a single peeled leg on the carp hook, all that's left is to drop the baits into the bubbling cauldron below, and see what's about.....and it doesn't take long for the float to bury below the surface.
A plump little potential specimen
Ballans can be so obliging when there are a few about, and the best possible fun on balanced tackle. I always wonder why I don't do more of this, as anything over 3-4lbs are tremendous sport. I only had a couple of hours before the incoming tide would force me back and off this small headland, so it's a case of working hard for maximum result. By this stage, with a skiff of light drizzle, I looked round for Skip, only to find her snuggled up in the tackle rucksack, that wee dog has nothing to learn!
Skip lets me get on with it, not interesting enough for her
A "scraper" specimen....maybe
Roughly every half dozen Ballans or so, a Corkwing would turn up. They seem reasonably commonplace once you actually target them. It wasn't too long before I had my compliment of three potential specimens over the 20 cm mark. I'm guessing that particular target length will be increased slightly for 2022!
I love the red-mottled ones, stunning
Cutting it fine, as the tidal height increased to the point of being cut off, and last cast syndrome, the float buried for the final time. I was just about out of bait anyway and an unenviable seven hour drive home ahead of me. This fish had a tad more power behind it, and it was touch and go in teasing it out from under the rock ledge, but a fine Ballan Wrasse eventually broke the surface.
Quickly to the measure mat, and over the magical 48cm target length, probably around four and three quarter pounds, a fine trophy fish to end the afternoon. It's great to see new fish on the specimen list, I can't speak for others, but it gives me the enthusiasm to get off my backside and venture out in search of something different, possible new techniques and probable new areas of our fabulous country to explore. Tight Lines...T