Phylum: Chordata - Class: Actinopterygii - Order: Percifromes - Family: Labridae
The ballan wrasse is the most common of the wrasse species found around the shores of Britain, and it is particularly plentiful in West Wales, where there are plenty of rocky coves.
The average size of ballan wrasse caught around the Welsh coast is between 2 and 4lb (1 to 2kg), but fish of 6 lb (2.5kg) are occasionally encountered. A ballan wrasse weighing 6lb 8oz was caught from the shore at Freshwater West in 1977, and this still holds the Welsh rod-caught record.
Wrasse feed on shellfish, crabs, prawns and occasionally small fish; their strong lips enable them to remove shellfish from the rocks. Any bait will do, with lugworm, ragworm, fish strip, mussels, limpets and pieces of crab all proving successful. A sliding float rig is a very good way to fish for wrasse from the rocks.
Please note: Rock fishing can be very dangerous. Great care and sensible footwear are crucial, especially in wet weather or when a heavy wing whips up spray and makes the rocks wet and slippery.
If you found this information helpful, you would probably find the new 2017 edition of our bestselling book Matching the Hatch by Pat O'Reilly very useful. Get an author-signed copy here...