Well as the title goes, this past weekend was the annual Tag a Ray weekend run by the Tralee Bay Sea Angling Club. This event is held in May once a year over a two day period for both a competition and most importantly a conservation project. There are many Ray species that frequent the Tralee Bay waters and arrive at certain times of the year. The IFI are interested in tagging two ray species which include the Undulate Ray and the Stingray. Tagging of these rays creates a data log of the species at the particular time it was caught where records of the measured wing span, total length, sex and an estimated weight is logged and should the tagged ray be captured in the future, new measurements and be recorded which provides an insight into its movements and also its growing rate. This is a great initiative and provides a vital source of information to protect and monitor stocks of the ray population.
So the event was to be held over two days with two categories. There was a boat category and a shore fishing category. Me and Dave (Scone) were going to try our hand at the shore fishing category as we are both avid shore anglers and wanted to get involved in something a little different. I think we were both a little excited about the event and Friday couldnt come quick enough for the both of us. Scone had been out during the week and collected a nice amount of prime peeler crabs and we had some of the regular frozen baits which consisted of Sandeels, Mackeral and Squid. With all our packing done we tried to get an early night but by the time leaders were tied and the car was packed we were only a short sleep away to making the trip over to Tralee Bay.
The day started off blustery and with forecasts of showers and an increasing wind we decided on a spot that we hoped would provide some fish. At 10:30am was the time the fist cast was going to go in which gave us time to register, get our tagging kit and of course have a cup of tea. We both rigged up at our chosen spot and made up some baits which we were hoping would entice a roaming Ray moving up the bay with the tide. We both fished a standard pulley rig and enough weight to hopefully hold bottom in the bigger tides that would be running throughout the day. We soon found out that the tides and weed would be so intense during the middle stages of the tide. As the tide was running out, each cast proved to be an endless struggle with the abundance of weed passing by. It was not till the tide was at it lower stages that the weed was reduced but still no bite. The lads fishing close to us had an Undulate Ray each on the fist of the incoming tide as it started to push in. Myself and Dave had nothing.
As the tide started to push in the weed returned until frustration got the better of me and I said to Dave that we should move further in towards a more sheltered area with less of a tidal run. We did and almost immediately Dave got his first Bass. A lovely fish which was put back after a photo. Not long after this he was into another Bass and to be honest I was delighted but at the same time wondering was I doing something different? Well he got the Bass in and at this stage it was almost time to call it a day. I had not had a sniff for the Day and Dave finished off with two Bass. That’s fishing.
A new day and a new game plan. We decided to stay at Fenit Pier to have a more comfortable day as we had little success yesterday. We both agreed this would be fine for us and there was still a chance of getting a Ray. We both Baited up on our Pulley Rigs and sent out our baits. It was no more than 15 minutes and a had a knock and a slack line take. I struck into the fish and knew I had a Ray. After a brief fight Dave went down and landed my first ever Ray from the shore which turned out to be a decent Undulate Ray. After tagging the ray and taking the required measurements I let the Ray swim off to hopefully produce some data in the future.
Dave was next to get a fish and although it was not the greatest fight I would say he has ever had, it still showed up as a small Undulate Ray. He was delighted as he had never caught an Undulate Ray before. It was a little small to tag so we took measurements and Dave released the fish back.
Soon after this Dave was into another fish. Another Ray was on the end of the line and out came a Thornback Ray. This fish was not required to be tagged so after taking measurements and photos the Ray was sent back to the tidal waters of the bay.
I wish I could keep writing that we had fish throughout the day but that was about all the action we saw for the day. Even though the fishing was tough it is always great to get back to the shore fishing with Dave as we spent our youth fishing the shorelines around Cork.
We headed back to the pub that was collecting the score cards and had a lovely dinner before the results were read out. Not expecting anything I finished day 2 in fourth place and Dave came in at 2nd place. Not bad for two guys along for the skit. Anyway, I have to say that it was a pleasure to fish this competition which was well organized and was all about tagging before an actual competition. I do think we will fish it again next year and here’s hoping for more Ray next time.
Until next time,