Stingray and Tope. What a day!

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.

Paddle 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.

Holding Bass 2

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.

Holding Bass 1

It seemed like today was going to be one of those days you just do not forget. The baits Shimano Trinidadwere 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.

Fighting Sting Ray

Stingray Rod Bend

Sting Ray

Sting Ray 2

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.

Mackeral Bait Presentation

Holding Undulate ray

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.

Holding Tope on lap

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.

Holding Tope Face

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,

Tight Lines.

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Fishing Report 05-06-2014

I recently decided to try a spot by myself that I had never fished before. Being cautious and having a careful look at the spot for a while. It looked as if at the launch sot there was rough ground that stretched out and then became clean ground which looked not to deep but I had seen the Gannets diving the day before so I assumed there must be bait fish out there. I arrived in the morning to fish the incoming tide. My plan was to target Thornback ray due to the lack of them on my previous outing at another mark. I have still not caught one of these fish but in my defense I have only tried once before and not everybody caught that last day.
Bait

The first priority was bait. I was hoping to get some mackerel or sandeel on Sabiki rigs but the mackerel have been patchy and the sandeels seem to be having their own ideas. With the lack of bait in the water, I did see the shoals passing on the fishfinder, i decided I would use pollock for bait. I have heard of guys that use live pollock for bass. So why wouldn’t a ray take a fillet of pollock? So I paddled in and caught a couple of small pollock and headed back out to the flat grounds in approximately thirty foot of water. I used two rods while on the drift for ray. Both with fillets of Pollock. I was using a simple running ledger trace with Cox & Rawle Uptide hooks in a size 3/0.

Drifting

I was pretty confident in getting a Thornback Ray. The drift was a little fast and should look into using a drouge anchor. Besides the drift being a little fast it wasnt long before I has my first take. The rod had one solid knock and bent over nicely and the line started running from  the reel. I picked the rod up and set the hook. I knew this was  not a pesky dogfish. The fish fought hard and made a few runs and honestly put up a good account for itself.

Ray Fight

When the fish came to the surface I was delighted to see my first Thornback Ray. Handling with care I lifted it out the water for some photos and then a quick release.

Grabbing Ray

Thornback 1

Releasing Ray

Delighted with that the wind stared to come up a little which meant that the drift was going to get increasingly faster so after two dogfish I decided I would have one more drift for the ray. Luck I made the choice. The tell tall wrap around of the rod happened again and I was in. Not as strong as the first but still I knew it was a ray. When the ray cam up it was a bit smaller but that did not matter to me as I had accomplished a target I set for myself. Here is the second little ray. I did not even have to lift him in the kayak, he released himself!

Second Thornback

My father always said to try different baits and think about what the fish are doing. This advice has stuck with me and is used everytime I fish. On a side note regarding ThornBack Ray. I have seen why they are named this and as a precautionary measure they should be handled with care for. Don’t think I would want to mess with these spines….

thornback spines

Tight Lines,

Ian