The first catch report of the blog - enjoy!
I spend the majority of my time in Plymouth at university but every so often i get the odd weekend when i can get back home to Hayle. I watch the weather forecast eagerly when i know im going back in the hope that the weather will allow me to get out on the kayak. Last weekend one such weather window opened up so a quick message to my brother to tell him to get his gear ready and all was sorted. We were going after the Ray!
An exciting prospect considering that a few weekends before we had an epic session on the rays with Kieren catching 6 Blondes to 23lb 9oz and me catching 5 Blondes to 12lb and a Small Eyed of 9lb 11oz.
Saturday morning arrived. I find that its always easier to wake up at 7am when there is kayaking involved! Quick breakfast, gear in the car, kayaks on the roof racks and we were off. The weather forecast was spot on. Hardly a breath of wind, 3ft of ground swell and a decent sized late afternoon tide - all was looking good. Arrived at our launch site and conditions were looking perfect and the tide was right out meaning time we paddled out to the mark we would be fishing the tide up. We hit the water at about 8:30 and was fishing by 9 with the anchor securely attached to the bottom. I managed to find a few joey mackerel for bait on the tinsels before sending the bottom rods down.
I use 2 Ugly Stik 12/20lb braid boat rods matched with Abu 6500 multiplers loaded with 20lb Berkeley Big Game braid for most of my kayak fishing and i knew from the last session on the rays that they test this gear to the limit - exciting sport! At the buisness end i use Sakuma Stinger 4/0 hooks to a 4ft trace of 60lb mono on a running ledger with an 8oz weight. Sakuma Stingers are very strong and as with all Sakuma hooks will stay sharp all day long if you don't get snagged! One Stinger got sent down embedded in a whole joey, the other in a large Ammo sand eel.
All was quiet for a while, but was to be expected as the tide hadn't picked up yet. A few small tugs followed by some spirited rod bending resulted in what i thought was a small ray attached to the end but as i looked into the depths waiting for the first glimpse it became clear it wasnt a ray. A Dogfish?....Big dogfish!?..... Its a Bull Huss!! That made Kieren look round! My first kayak caught Bull Huss graced the footwell and after a quick photo for kayak wars it was released.
Not long after another bite, another decent fight and another Bull Huss slightly smaller than the first. Both falling to the Sandeel. What can i say?! Never had one off the kayak before and then 2 come along one after the other! Kieren still biteless was wondering if he had used up all his luck last trip. After an hour or so of a couple of small dogfish between us we made the decision to up anchor and move. 400 yards further offshore and the anchor plummeted back to the bottom, kieren tied up to my kayak and we were both fishing again.
Before long Kieren lifted his rod into a healthy bend...."Ray on" he said with some relief! After 5 minutes the ray was in view, but as with most rays it saw the surface and thought it was best to head back to bottom, rod locked over with kieren hanging on the end of it. A few minutes later and all was over with the ray coming aboard his kayak. Quick photo and back it went. Soon after i managed a nice little Turbot which took half a Bluey.
After the short period of excitement the rods were back down with hopes running high for a ray. Within minutes one rod was pulling hard, something was mauling the sand eel; giving it some line it ran off with the bait before stopping and sitting on it. Before long it was off with the bait again and on striking i was meet with strong resistance. Braid peeled off the reel and the ray headed off along the bottom! For 10 minutes i wrestled to get the ray off the bottom but everytime i time got it a few feet off bottom it would power back down again! I was starting to question whether i needed to invest in stronger braid. After what seemed like an age it started to let me win and with the tide really starting to push the fish fought hard all the way to the surface. Finally i had hold of her and pull her onto the kayak - it was a decent Blonde. It bottomed out my 14lb spring scales so i estimated around 15lb, whatever the weight its a new PB so i was well happy! Kieren landed another ray shortly afterwards.
The gear went back down with a whole joey - i was after a bigger one! No sooner had that gear got down the other rod was being tugged on from the depths. Kieren was also getting bites and after a few missed strikes he hooked into a ray at the same time i did. Rod bent over and my arm muscles burning the ray was worked up to the surface before it woke up and dived back towards the bottom - i just love seeing braid pealing off the reel! Few minutes later she was onboard and as i unhooked her something picked up the joey. Once hooked it went off like a steam train! And with a healthy bend in the rod trying to tease it away from the bottom one cant help but think that 'moments like this is exactly why i go kayak fishing!'. Kieren had also hooked another ray! after what seemed like an eternity the ray allowed me to gain some line - even then it took me 10 minutes to get it anywhere near the surface - it just kept pulling braid again and again, Great fun! Once at the surface i could see it was even bigger than the 15lbr! Kieren got his onboard and brought his fish over to my yak to be measured and photographed. We estimated the one i had just caught at 18lb, could have been a 20 but with a lack of scales we estimated on the conservative side. The other 12lb and Kierens two both around 8-10lb. I was looking down at around 50lb of Blonde Ray which needed measuring - not a sight you see often! A few quick photos and they all swam away strongly.
By this time it was 14:45 and almost time to go, kieren had to get to work for 17:30. He managed one more around 8lb and me one about 5lb. We even had a few porpoises pass by before we headed back in. In the couple of hours we had the Ray on the feed Kieren had 7 and me 4 along with the bonus Bull Huss and Turbot. Another amazing day on the Blondes and they have secured their place as my favourite species to catch! Kieren had the quantity but i found the quality on this trip. You cant beat fishing for a Cornish Blonde!
The kayaks have now been put away for winter as we fish in wetsuits so are limited by the temperature. Unless theres a very mild day over winter or santa brings me a drysuit the yaks wont see the water until Spring. Not necessarily a bad thing as i can do some work on them over winter ready for next season.
Hope you enjoyed the read - any comments would be welcome :) Liam
Here is a video i put together of Ray Fishing from a Kayak - check it out!
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