Blonde Ray Day
The weather forecast looked fantastic - no wind, no swell and sun; coupled with a mid afternoon tide things were looking promising. We weren't mucking around today as 30lb Blonde Ray have been caught from the mark we would be fishing. I would be using my 12-20lb Ugly Stik Braid Rods with 30lb Braid on Abu 6500's. Kieren opted for his 20-30lb Ugly Stik and modified Century Big Bertha Spod with Abu 7000's and 30lb Mono. At the business end was 4-5ft of 60lb trace with a Sakuma Stinger 4/0. We were rigged up ready for the rod benders!
The conditions were perfect on arrival at the launch spot and within an hour of parking up we had set up, launched and paddled out to the mark. The sea was glassy calm and the sun shone through thick haze. All was very quiet and calm. The tide was just starting to flood as i anchored up with Kieren tied off my bow. Big mackerel baits were lowered to the seabed below. Soon enough the usual dogfish were attacking the baits. A few dogfish later and Kieren hooked into something a bit different, a lovely Tub Gurnard. Dogfish followed more dogfish and after 30 minutes i suggested moving so we paddled 500 yards up the coast and dropped anchor again.
It was a very good decision.... within 15 minutes we both had Blonde Ray on our hooks! It amazes me how powerful they are and its a job to lever them from the bottom. After 10 minutes or so we both had 2 Blondes on the kayak in the 10-12lb range!
By the time we had got these fish in both our other rods were nodding with ray bites... it was going to be a busy day if it carried on like this..... and it did. At one point i had two ray running hard on both rods, and we had pretty much non stop ray action for over 3 hours! Most fish were in the 10-15lb range and they fight hard!
All the rays were measured and photographed for Kayak Wars before returning them. The rays were queuing up in the kayak and at one point i had 4 to photo!
Kieren then made a noise that fishermen only make when they hook a big one. Indescribable in text form but contained many explicit words..... he was into a beast! Its not often his 20-30lb Ugly Stik gets bent over like this....
He held on tight as it powered off uptide along the seabed causing us to move on the anchor - it was towing both of us! 15 minutes later and he was still battling with it. I had managed to land 2 more in the time it took him to get it to the surface. He got what he came for.... a monster female Blonde weighing in at 22lb on my digital scales on the kayak with a wingspan of 72cm! A stunning fish....
The good sport continued as the hard fighting beasts kept finding the baits.
I was beginning to wonder if there were any other fish down there apart from the rays. We were fishing big baits so wasn't expecting any great number of species but the usual dogfish weren't even getting a look in! I did eventually hook something smaller, i expected a greedy gurnard to have snaffled the Mackerel fillet but to my surprise a Greater Weever arrived at the surface and a half decent one too! In my opinion they are one of the most stunning fish in our waters, fresh out of the water their fins are iridescent blue and their body and face flecked with electric blue, turquoise and green markings.... beautiful but at the same time venomous. The fish is a new PB for me at 1lb 2oz / 46cm
It was soon back to more ray bites although things were starting to slow up on the ebbing tide. We had lost all concept of time in the haze of rays. We had an hour or so before we had to leave. We were passed by a large pod of Porpoises and a Sunfish, and what looked like Atlantic Bonito were occasionally leaping out of the water. Kieren made that noise again.... how does he do it? Not the noise, i mean hooking the big ones! Another beast resisted to leave the bottom despite the huge bend in his rod. After some epic fighting and some powerful runs mid water we peered into the depths to watch it emerge... it was another big female - he does have a way with the girls! This time it took the scales down to 20lb with a wingspan of 71cm....another cracking fish!
We went half an hour without any serious bites and by now it was time to start thinking about packing up. Just as i told Kieren to wind in my right hand rod tip pulled down as a ray shuffled onto the bait.... i gave it some slack and waited. Maybe this was the big one I'm after?
Some hard pulls of the rod tip and i hit into solid resistance followed by a powerful run..... this one felt bigger!
It took 5 minutes to get it off the bottom and in the meantime Kieren was into a ray of his own. He was packed up and ready to go by the time i got my fish near the surface but as usual with the big ones they see the light and power back down towards the bottom. We watched it appear from the blue depths... it looked a decent size but it was a male. The males are never as heavy as a female fish of the same wingspan - it still looked big though and took the scales to 16lb and had a wingspan of 68cm. That was me happy!
It was time to head in. We paddled back without a clue how many we had caught. I had taken a photo of them all and after looking back through the photos i had caught 12 Blondes with the biggest going 16lb along with four others in the 12lb - 15lb range and Kieren had 9 with the biggest two going 22lb and 20lb followed by a few around the 12-15lb mark. What a day - not bad for 4 hours fishing! We estimated the average size to be around 12lb so that would mean we caught around 250lb of Blondes between us...... Our arms were aching but we were smiling! I had the bonus Weever too. A fantastic day on the water.... i can't wait to get back out. That 20lb Blonde is waiting for me!
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