Gary Robinson, kayak angler extrordinaire fishing for Hook1, reports on a recent trip in pursuit of the bully boys of the reefs, ballan wrasse…

Bad weather approaches. The meteorological situation in Ireland has decided to do a complete U-turn. With time at a premium I decided to try a small, sheltered bay not too far from home. Within minutes of arriving at a small harbour only a few miles south of Dublin City’s centre I was ready to do battle.

Ready to set out
Ready to set out

The intended targets were ballan wrasse and I had a tub of ragworm to use as bait. Ballan wrasse live close to the bottom, near structure. Rocky, weedy areas are good places to find them and this is where I sent my baited hooks to. These fish do not grow large and I would consider a 6lb/2.75kg fish to be a monster. What they lack in size they certainly make up for in strength. A fish that lives close to the rocks has to be powerfully built to survive the rough waters that can be a feature of these areas. By observing their big, paddle like tail and large pectoral fins, you can tell these fish have power surges in spades.

First of the day
First of the da

I baited my hooks and lowered my bait to the bottom. Within seconds there was a ‘thump’ felt through the braid and I lifted into the first fish of the day. It was far from being a monster but it was nice to know that there were fish in the area and this was confirmed by dropping a second bait and hooking up again almost immediately.

Although there seemed to be no shortage of fish, none of them were of a large size by national standards but they made for an enjoyable couple of hours on the water, testing the lighter gear to its limits.

Biggest ballan wrasse of the day
Biggest ballan wrasse of the day

I was very happy with my couple of hours’ ‘work’. Granted, none of the fish were large, or even getting anywhere near that description, but to experience hard fighting fish on lighter tackle is a joy and who cares what you are catching as long as you are catching and deriving some enjoyment from it. To be able to enjoy such an experience within 10 miles/16 km of a European capital city centre only adds to the convenience.

I hope to return soon for more of the same and perhaps to see if I can tempt again the brute that straightened out one of my hooks. Hopefully, there will be more about that fish, ‘the one that got away’, at a later date.

Gary Robinson
For the full report and more photos see

Kayak angling in Ireland

Gary discovered the thrill, freedom and pure joy of kayak fishing almost by accident. After purchasing kayaks with the intention of paddling trips with his long-suffering partner, he started to assess the suitability of such a craft as a fishing platform. Some internet searches showed him that he was not alone in his thoughts. America and Australia already had blossoming populations of kayak anglers. Needing no more encouragement, he set about rigging his first sit on top kayak and transforming it into a fishing platform to gain access to some of the more inaccessible waters. Now into his fifth year of kayak fishing he shows no sign of slowing down.

Find out more about Gary and his adventures at