The ballan wrasse is the largest of the wrasse species to be found around the UK coastline. Although fish touching double figures is possible, a fish of half that size would be considered a good catch, especially on lures. The colouration of the ballan wrasse vary greatly, from brown/reddish to dark green with the majority having paler spots.
Like all wrasse species, the ballan wrasse likes rocky, weed strewn areas in which to live and forage. They prefer shallow water and areas that are reasonably sheltered, so look for them around harbours, marinas and over any shallow, rough, kelp strewn ground. The diet of the ballan wrasse consists mainly of crustaceans and molluscs, although they will regularly feed on aquatic worms and small fish too.
Although lots of anglers catch these fish using baits such as ragworm and hardback crabs, lure fishing for them is a very successful method in which you can cover lots of ground. Lures in the 3”-4” range are the best sizes with fish, eel and crustacean patterns in dark colours such as green, brown and black being favourite. By far the best way to fish lures when targeting ballan wrasse is by rigging them Texas style as you will be working lures over and around snaggy areas so it’s very important to keep that hook point buried. You can fish lures weightless if conditions allow, otherwise you can add a worm weight of an appropriate size if conditions dictate it.