Christmas Island surge Wrasse
A Christmas Island surge wrasse (photo: Earl Harper, Harper Studios).

I have noted to more folks than I can count that I find trout -- a grouping I casually expand, solely for the purposes of that discussion, to include most salmon and char -- to be indisputable as the most beautiful fish in the world. For most of the year, trout and salmon exhibit a streamlined, understated elegance and beauty that I've scarcely, if ever, seen matched elsewhere. And when spawning season comes around, they put on a show. It truly is hard to imagine fish more beautiful than the likes of the Alaskan leopard rainbow, a brook trout in full spawning colors and so on.

That is, until you see the surge wrasse.

Add in the fact that wrasse can be taken on the fly and they become even more alluring. The wrasse pictured above was caught off the beaches of Christmas Island, which lures anglers from far away -- given that virtually everything is far away from Christmas Island -- to chase bonefish and giant trevally.

Wrasse are abundantly found throughout the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The family is large and diverse, including over 600 distinct species of wrasse, one of which is the surge wrasse seen above. While they have minor importance as a game fish, they are mostly sought for aquarium capture.

While the surge wrasse's penchant for the dramatic will likely keep me coming back to the trout's more reserved, classy aesthetic, it's hard to deny that surge wrasse is truly a sight to behold.


Surge wrasse, not rainbow wrasse...

It's a Surge Wrasse.

That's not a rainbow wrasse. It is a surge wrasse aka Thalassoma purpureum.