As we only had an afternoon tide to play with, we decided to spend the time in search of wrasse, in particular, Ballans and Cuckoos. We had done enough deep-water anchoring up to now and wanted some relaxing, less energetic angling! A set of baited feathers is as easy as it gets, and that’s all that is required to tempt these reef dwelling species.
With plenty of ragworm to satisfy the Ballans, we needed a couple of dozen Mackerel. Small strips of fresh Mackerel fillet are un-beatable for Cuckoo Wrasse. Thankfully it didn’t take long to find a few. With enough bait secured, it was off to the off-shore reefs in time to catch the slackening tide.
Glenn found the first of our target species. The females are less patterned than the males, but stunning to look at none-the-less, bright pink-peach with striking dark spots towards the tail, almost tropical in appearance. I soon followed with a double shot, Cuckoo and Ballan which was handy. The Shakespeare Luminous Hawk Rigs are absolute killers for this type of light, boat angling.
With wrasse in abundance, it was a busy afternoon, along with Coalfish, small Pollack, and the occasional bonus Ling to add a little variety to our trip. Although these were spring tides that hampered our angling to some extent, light winds made the trip extremely enjoyable. Sometimes it takes a step back from the full-on specimen hunting, just once in a while, to appreciate some of the smaller, more delicate species that in-habit our off-shore reefs.
With the tide beginning to pick up in strength, and bite rates diminishing, it was time to call a halt to our afternoons wrasse hunt and head back to harbour. Spring tides along the Antrim Coast can be quite dangerous for the dinghy angler, with fast tidal rips and over-falls. It is always best to err on the side of caution in this area. Having said that, with a little common sense, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t get out there and target these extremely obliging species.