We arrived at the launch venue at 11am to be greeted by a brisk onshore wind and a fairly choppy sea. It would be a battle to get out to the mark but once there and anchored up we would be fine. The Hobie Outfitter was loaded up with gear and ready to launch. The wind made for a strenuous and wet paddle out but after about 30 minutes we had dropped anchored and were baiting up the rods. The waves were breaking over the back of the kayak when anchored from the stern, so decided to anchor from the bow which made things much more comfortable.
I explained to Holly what to do when a ray takes the bait and how to handle it once hooked.... i don't think she was fully prepared for a hard fighting ray and she didn't have to wait long to find out how well they can fight. 10 minutes after dropping a bait down she had a solid bite..... a few minutes later and it was taking off with the bait.... BANG... the rod hooped over with a hard fighting Ray.... she held on for her life!
It took a while to lever it from its hold on the seabed but eventually it was in midwater and on its way to the kayak. In the meantime i had a run and was stuck into a decent ray myself! I managed to land Hollys ray and unhook it whilst fighting my own but soon enough had them both on the kayak. A lovely fish of around 10lbs... not bad for her first one!
I had underestimated the size of mine in the excitement of Holly catching her first ray. Once on the measuring board it became apparent this was the biggest Blonde i had caught with a 69.5cm wingspan. The digital scales gave a weight of 17lb... not bad for my first fish of the day!
Holly soon had another smaller Blonde on the kayak and it became apparent we were in for another hectic day on the rays We had a steady stream of ray for the next hour or so.
At one point we had a double hook up of two big fish. 15 minutes of battling and powerful runs and the two fish emerged from the depths at the same time. I grabbed Hollys trace first and the fish powered off back towards the bottom, as did mine when it reached the surface. Holly nearly disappeared with her fish it went down that fast! Eventually they were beat and two cracking Blondes were on the kayak - an 18lb Male for Holly and a 19lb Female for me!
We were over the moon! Things were starting to slow but we persisted. A small bite, which i assumed was a dogfish, kept rattling the rod tip. I struck several times but couldn't connect. I checked the bait and it had been demolished so down with a fresh bait and the fish was back again - this time i hit it and to my surprise it was a ray - the bait hadn't been on the bottom for more than 30 seconds! It was another decent one and was reluctant to leave its sandy hold. I love seeing the first glimpse of a ray 30ft below the kayak in the water, gradually getting bigger as it approaches the surface. Another lovely ray was soon in the footwell. A female fish of 14lb....
Holly found a couple more smaller ray before the bites stopped. I had one enquiry which i let sit on the bait for a while before it screamed off. It was another decent one that had the rod bent in half.... great fun and very addictive! A beautiful male fish of 15lb graced the surface..... the males have impressive cheek spines that are unforgiving to human skin and I'm assuming they are used in some sort of mating competition or defence. Either way my finger tips are in shreds!
The bites dried up so we called it a day and paddled back in double time with the wind and waves behind us. Another great day on the rays. Holly managed to catch 6 Blondes rays including a cracker of 18lb. I finished up with 9 Blondes including a new PB of 19lb with a 70cm wingspan and others of 17lb, 15lb and 14lb. Very addictive fishing, it wont be long until I'm back out on them to get the rods bending again!
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