February was the month of the rays, at least targeting them. I thought I might be a little early for them but it was worth a shot before crowds of people descended onto the west coast rock marks making it difficult to get a decent spot without fishing all through the day and a rubbish state of tide. With the weather not playing ball, I got out and made the most of every gap and drop in the wind.

1st February

First trip onto these rocks for the year. A stiff northerly wind made fishing uncomfortable but me and my mate Paul decided with the tide dropping and the swell relatively small we could give it a go for a few hours in daylight. Had the usual ray setup on one rod, and a 3-hook flapper on my lighter beach caster. First cast on the flapper and a good pull down but I was convinced it was a doggie. Slightly surprising then when a small eyed ray popped out the swell! After a bit of wave riding I had it up a gully and on the ledge for the photo shoot!

The cross wind made things difficult, we were having to leave plenty of slack in the line so well didn’t pull out the leads and this made it hard work telling bites. I managed a few whiting, a codling and a doggie while Paul was struggling a bit he eventually got in the action among the whiting with a couple of better fish. We were thinking of calling it a day as I noticed my “ray” setup had gone very slack and I hit into another good fish which was another ray, this time the thorny that we wanted. A couple more whiting followed before the swell got up and we beat a retreat to the beaches hoping for some more coalies, unfortunately they didn’t play, just one between us with more whiting.

6th February

I managed to get out again just by myself the following Friday. Very similar weather wise to the previous weekend but with it being a bigger tide over high I wasn’t so optimistic. Still I gave it a bash but it was very quiet for a couple of hours until the Dabs came on the feed, ripping any fish baits to pieces as soon as they touched the bottom, sometimes coming up in two’s. A single doggie added a bit of variety, before I called it a day due to the cold.

14th February

The weather was finally kind to us so after he finished work, me and Paul went out for the night tide. When we got there conditions were spot on and we were soon into rays. Between us we had 9, mostly between 3lb and 7lb but I managed a new personal best, at 8lb 8oz on my bass rod. the bait had been out there a while and the ray went for a whiting that had hung itself on the 4/0 hook! While this one was being landed my other rod went slack and Paul did the honours bringing in his first Thornback.

So good was the fishing I went back the next day with the leftover bait to catch the next tide. Not much wind or swell but plenty of colour to the water I thought the good fishing would continue. First cast came one 6lb 8oz, here we go! That turned out to be it, a couple of whiting turned up but the rays had gone quiet. Things got worse when the line wrapped around the tip ring of my bass rod, the resulting crack off sending my top section out to sea! I fished on with one rod but with frustration at that growing I went home for an early shower ready for work. It was a pity to end such a good month in frustration, so I decided to repair or replace everything that had been damaged recently, from rod rings to head torches, before heading out again.

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