This day has to be one of my most exciting days I have had in a very long time. I was in contact with a friend of mine who targets Tope, Stingray and Undulate Ray when they show themselves in the warmer months. When I got the nod to head to the mark for my first session at these fish, I was like a my younger self. I could not pack the car fast enough the night before. These fish have the potential to grow to substantial sizes so a step up in the tackle was required. With most of my fishing I really do not like using heavy tackle and my rigs and main line reflected this. I was using 15lb mono on my two multipliers. Two light boat rods and some frozen mackeral. I would have preferred fresh bait but could not get hold of some. I also took along a very light Fladen boat road I have that I couple with a small fixed spool reel. I tend to use this rod for smaller baits while my two main rods are out.
On arrival to the mark, the paddle out was an experience in itself. Not much wind, but rather a breeze, and a smooth paddle out. Once at the preferred spot, the anchor was dropped and the mackeral baits were sent out.
The traces used consisted of a simple running ledger rig. The baits were anchored on the bottom and it was not long before I had my first take. At this location the next bite could be a big fish so I was filled with anticipation at every enquiry my bait had. Striking into my first fish, I knew immediately it was the ever present dogfish. Not to be disheartened the baits were sent out again. The next bite proved to be more promising. At first I thought I had a small tope on but to my surprise it was a lunker of a bass. A quick photo and this beauty was sent on its way. I was extremely pleased with this.
Once again the rod had another good take. The fish put up a similar fight to the previous Bass and it proved to be another good sized one. What was taking my attention is that these bass were taking my large Mackeral fillets intended for a Tope. I lifted the Bass on the kayak and got some photos before releasing it back on its journey.
It seemed like today was going to be one of those days you just do not forget. The baits were redone and sent back down to seek out anything else that was willing to engulf it. My light boat rod coupled with my Shimano Trinidad TN14 sudden started peeling line. I eased into the fish and was suddenly aware of the weight that was pulling line from my reel. All I could do was wait till it tired itself out and then I could get it back to the kayak. The fight was solid and after a number of runs I soon had my first ever Stingray at the side of the kayak. I was not overly keen on bringing it anyway near my kayak so a fellow kayak angler helped me out by unhooking it and releasing it.
That was inexperience that would stay with me for a long time. The takes were coming frequently now and another good take on a Mackeral head bait occurred. Another solid run aided by the incoming tide and solid thumps. An Undulate Ray was soon on my lap. Another first for me and I was delighted.
As the tide started to push in the bites became a little less frequent and I had another great take and a solid fight. I saw the dark shadow of what could only be another Stingray. This time a much smaller one but still had to be shown the same respect as any other one. Their poisonous spine can cause severe injury and I take extreme caution when handling and releasing them. I try not handle them at all if possible. So no photo and I let the Stingray go.
By now the tide was almost reaching full and I had another small Undulate Ray. The hopes of a tope were slowly drifting away. Just then at this point my one rod had a take and then a soaring run. I eased into the fish but it kept on going. This was to fast for a Stingray and I hoped this would be my first Tope off the kayak. I then realized I had taken off my short length of nylon coated wire as I thought there was going to be no Tope showing for the day. A big mistake. The fight continued until I got my first glance of the great streamlined shark figure below the kayak and my heart was in my mouth. I got it to the side of the kayak and was assisted in getting it on to the kayak as this was my first. I was so delighted to have landed my first Tope and I took some photos before sliding it back.
Not a great photo but I quickly baited up again and casted out. Within a few minutes I had another great run and I was in again. Once again just a mono trace but after a couple of minutes I was bitten off. Another hook tied on and another bait sent out. Once again another take. It was clear there were a few Tope around that had come up with the tide. A great fight with surging runs all around the kayak. I soon landed another Tope which was a bonus for the day.
So what can I say about the day? A big thank you to the other guys that were out that day. It was a day to remember and hopefully one that can be relived again.
Until next time,