Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


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THINK LIKE A FISH Part 5 Zzzzzzzzzzz!

There is no doubt at all that some fish sleep. "So what!" I hear from the chorus of practical anglers. Before you condemn me for waffling let me expand on the subject a little bit. Many angling authors have quoted the well-known fact that, when the sun sets, ballan wrasse get their heads down and nod off. If you switch on the little light over your cold-water, marine, fish tank during the hours of darkness the tired old Labrus will be found in repose, propped up in their favourite caves and crevices at all sorts of odd angles.

Of course like other fish, having no eyelids, they are unable to shut their eyes, but it may be as much as several minutes after the light goes on that they regain consciousness. The most obvious direct effect of this period of rest it that the wrasse bites cease at dusk and recommence at dawn. The wrasse has been the saviour of many hot, bright, calm day's fishing along the South and West Coasts.

It is possible that some anglers may have taken these fish in complete darkness but my latest ever wrasse bite came from a 3lb fish, which took a plug, well after sunset. Even this catch was a pretty unusual event. Of course, this is the same old stuff you've read before but one fact which is much less obvious and potentially much more important to anglers relates to the wrasse as hunted rather than hunter.

The question is why any fish which lies about on the seabed for long periods of time does not wake up to find itself clenched in the jaws of a predator. Surely a few pounds of wrasse-meat must be offering itself as a sacrifice to any conger nosing his way around rocks in search of a meal. Now wrasse are pretty common, and long-lived fish so they cannot be as vulnerable as they seem. So how do they avoid being eaten? Presumably they don't move and thus avoid giving off vibrations that might lead a potential predator to their whereabouts.

It is also possible that they can suppress their fishy smell! Some tropical wrasses are known to rest inside a slimy, impermeable, mucous, sleeping bag that they exude from their skin. This is surely a way of avoiding detection by scent-hunting, nocturnal predators such as sharks or eels. Could it be that they can even secrete a 'conger repellent' just as some fish (the Moses sole for example) produce a shark repelling chemical? Just how good are wrasses as bait for other fish? My own experience suggests that they can be very good for some species and I know that small wrasse make excellent baits for big bass. What is the experience of other anglers? Are there any species that are no good as bait or even positively drive fish away? I seem to remember that edible crabs do not like to go into pots which have been occupied by spider crabs and squid ink numbs the sense of smell of fish - so it wouldn't be surprising if there are fish which are actually distasteful to particular predators.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Think like a fish.

Time and Tide.

Wakey wakey!.

Dawn breaks and it's just about time for the wrasse to start biting.

Dave Cooling with a bait caught wrasse.

When the sun is shining wrasse like these are the saviours of many a fishing trip.

A nice lure caught wrasse.

Throughout the hours of daylight wrasse will chase and take plugs, usually nipping at the tail hook.

A very late wrasse.

This fish obviously had insomnia and took the lure well after the sun had set.