Autumn Rays

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It has been many weeks since i have had the chance to get out on the open coast. The autumn has arrived and brought miserable weather with it. A small break finally aligned with a day off and i didn’t need to be asked twice. This time of year can produced excellent fishing for rays over clean ground so a session was planned to target a big Autumn Blonde Ray!
Matt would be joining me on the water and it would give him his first taste of open coast fishing in West Cornwall. We met mid morning and headed out on an incoming tide. The weather was good with light winds and sun. It was pretty cold though so it was on with the Palm Bora drysuit with several layers of thermals beneath! The water was lively. Strong winds in the previous days had put plenty of energy into the water and a good 4-6ft swell was rolling in off the Atlantic. I had one target…. a specimen Blonde or Small Eyed Ray. Specimen weights for these species in my club (Mounts Bay Angling Society) are 18lb for Blondes and 9lb for Small Eyeds. Either would do!

The day started with some trolling for Bass. Two small Bass of around 2lb were tempted by the Duel Hardcore Minnow…

Onto the Ray grounds and the fish finder lit up with fish. Sabikis down…. Mackerel! In fact there were so many Mackerel that we had to hunt for a clear patch to drop the anchors away from them! Well at least we had plenty of fresh bait and fresh bait is always best.

Anchors down and plenty of warp let out to buffer against the swells. Strips of Mackerel were sent down on running ledgers to the sandy seabed below. It was around 30 minutes or so before the first bite came along. It was really having the bait but it wasn’t a Ray….. it was a Turbot! These are always a welcome sight on the kayak. Only small but very pretty and released to see another day. That makes species number 41 off the kayak this year.

The other rod was soon getting a bite too and this time it looked more like a Ray settling over the bait. Soon enough it was pulling hard at the bait and was hooked. The rod bent over and took the strain of a powerful fish trying to dig back into the bottom. I was using a Fladen Solid Carbon Maxximus 12-20lb rod, although the blank feels more like a 6lb class until you load pressure into the bottom 3rd of the blank. So these rods really bend well with a ray on the end! The rod was paired with a Fin-Nor Lethal 40 loaded with 29lb Daiwa J-Braid, which was now peeling nicely from the reel and the fish headed off along the bottom.

You can’t bully these fish too much as they will just snap you up. I soon had it in mid water where it gave a flurry of short runs back to the bottom. I could tell this was a better fish. Could it be over the magical 20lb mark? Braid turned to mono leader and soon a big ray shape appeared below the kayak. This was a good fish, and felt a right lump as i grabbed it and pulled onto my lap.

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Unhooked and a quick weigh with the scales….. 20lb 8oz!!

Yes! That was me happy. First ray of the day too. The fish had a wingspan of 71cm, just over the 70cm IFCA fish measure!
A few photos and it was back to the depths….
The next few hours saw steady action. In fact the next fish was another nice Blonde of around 15lb.
I then had a mad 5 minutes which first saw this Blonde in the kayak….
And just as i let go of that fish to release it my other rod slammed over with another Ray. Another nice double figure Blonde!
Despite Matt being only 100 yards away from me, the fish just weren’t finding his baits. Same rigs, same baits but it was me getting all the bites. Every so often the vast shoals of Mackerel would swim beneath us smashing the baits and it was impossible to get through them. The ray rods came in and the sabikis went out. It didn’t take long and i had filled the entire foot well of the Revo 16. Its not often i take so many but my freezer is empty and i need bait for the winter.

The rays kept coming but this time it was Small Eyeds instead of Blondes.

A particularly small Small Eyed also showed up.
Matt had a bite and soon was hooked into a fish, but it wasn’t a Ray. It was a Turbot and his first so that was great. And then it all switched off. One lonesome dogfish found a bait and that was that. An hour passed with little action and with the fading light we decided to make our way in.
I stopped off and caught some more Mackerel and amongst them some Scad and Pilchards on the way back in. That made for a good number of species for the day! ​Just as we headed in we were treated to a spectacular sunset.
That concluded a successful and enjoyable day on the water. Target achieved with a specimen Blonde Ray. Unlucky for Matt who couldn’t tempt a Ray, there’s always next time and i’ll be looking forward to it…. i have a specimen Small Eyed to catch!



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