everything you need to know, all on one site...


fabulously coloured male cuckoo wrasse (females are drab by comparison!)

Cuckoo Wrasse, Labrus mixtus

Irish Record Fish:
We have withdrawn the details on the Irish record and specimen weights as the current IFSC rules require anglers kill all such fish, hardly sporting or conservation minded, is it?  Alternatives exist.
Boat Specimen:
Shore Specimen:
Photo Credit:   

Introduction: The Cuckoo Wrasse is undoubtedly the most spectacularly coloured fish found in Irish waters.  Much smaller than the Ballan Wrasse, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in sheer extravagant colour.  They are more regularly caught in deeper waters during the summer months but they are apparently resident all year round - a nice challenge for winter!  All the wrasse are tough fishing fish, generally found over rough ground and on rocky marks, with plenty of weed cover and quite often very strong currents.  They have lots of fin space, are strong swimmers and like nothing more than to wedge themselves into rock crevices to foil a sea angler.  I have seen a big wrasse snap a beachcaster, albeit it was a big old Ballan up against a novice angler. 

Boat tactics: Wrasse typically live off mussels and other shellfish.  Their powerful mouths are crammed full of strong and sharp teeth - not a place for an unwary finger.  Cuckoo Wrasse will not take artificial lures but anything organic is accepted.  They are relatively small fish so the hooks are generally at or below the 3/0 mark.  Due to their perferred habitat however the rig is often far stronger than the fish itself might warrant.

Shore tactics: Most wrasse are caught from the shore, and they provide excellent sport!  They have a remarkable knack for sucking worms off the hooks so often a swinging boom is employed to give good bite detection and allow immediate changes to the depth of the bait presentation.  Float fishing for wrasse is also a favoured technique, although I have caught Cuckoo Wrasse on bottom legered rigs, right inside harbours. They seem to be more common on the west and south coasts. To stop them sucking off the bait, a tiny square of squid behind the hook barb is the trick... or bits of mackerel strip will do this important job too.  All wrasse are territorial so if you are catching lots of small ones, you will have to move to find a mark with a few big ones.