One of my goals this year, as it was last year, was to latch into a blonde ray. They are frequently caught from a mark that I regularly visit, however as yet I haven’t seen one, never mind hooked one.
Armed with fresh information, I revisited the same mark on Monday. I wasn’t convinced about the conditions, it was bright sunshine, and personally I’ve found the rays prefer it slightly more overcast. Still the tides were favourable, and with the current forecast this might be my only shot at them for a while.
My plan was to rig up as usual, 6oz beachcasters to combat the tide switching between pulley and up and over rigs. Bait was Sandeel, squid and bluey, either individually or presented as cocktails. These were chucked out as far from the rocks as possible. The first couple of casts I also sent out a 3 hook flapping rig, just to see if I could pick up a bonus flattie or gurnard.
The first ray bait was sent out and I had not even run the line through the rings on the second when the first ratchet started going. I thought it could be the sideways tidal current, but the pulls were too strong for that. I lifted in and it was fish on! Almost straight away I could tell it was a ray, as the fish stayed deep until quite close in, however it didn’t have the weight behind it I expected from a blonde ray. My suspicions were confirmed when a spotted ray broke the surface, not the species I was looking for but welcome nonetheless. Unfortunately I had left my camera memory card in my computer so I had to make do with getting the pictures on my phone so the pictures aren’t great quality.
I recast the ray bait, this time having chance to set up and cast the second rod. While dealing with a dab on the flapper I noticed the ray bait had moved quite a way to the left. Again I left it a little while thinking it was the tide but it kept moving. On lifting in it felt similar to the first fish, staying deep until quite close in. Up popped another small ray, and it was a bit of a surprise that it was a small eyed ray, only little but nice to get the first one of the year.
I was surprised to get two rays so quickly and relatively late into the flood, but they didn’t stop there. The next two casts also bought another spotted and small eyed ray, also another dab to the flapper, all in the space of about an hour and a quarter. Expecting the action to continue I began fixing up a few rigs to make them usable this session and pre-baiting a few to make sure I was ready. Despite high hopes the rest of the session failed to match the beginning, in fact I never saw another bite on either rod.
Not taking any ragworm I didn’t have any options for scratching around for wrasse so I was relying on the fish coming back on the feed as the ebb picked up. With all my best efforts nothing happened, the time I had been told would be best for a blonde ray had been and gone so I decided to make a move. I was disappointed not to get a blonde ray, but picking up four rays in arguably less than ideal conditions is a good session in anyone’s book.