It was a glorious Spring morning. The sunshine had a bit of warmth in it and with very light winds, the water was nice and calm.
It was a nice easy paddle out into the river mouth where it was time to start watching the fish finder for signs of mackerel shoals. I had my Ugly Stik Custom Graphite 30-60g Lure rod set up with feathered sabikis ready to drop down to any shoals that showed on the finder. That is the great thing about having a fish finder, you can really pick and choose when is best to drop your rig.
It didn't take long before a few shoals started appearing, so down went the sabikis. The rod was soon bending!
It was a string full of lively Mackerel.... Excellent! The shoal was still showing so the rig was sent straight back down. Again the fish were straight on the hooks. As the fish arrived at the surface i was happy to see something different on one of the hooks.... a Herring!
Superb! That's a good one for the species count this year. The mackerel continued to find the hooks, along with the odd Whiting, but amongst them something different again took a liking to a sabiki.... a Pilchard also known as a Cornish Sardine!
Another good one for the species count. There seemed to be plenty of pelagic baitfish around which is always a good sign. I was having to paddle around a bit to find the shoals of fish but when i did they were often thick. One shoal was around 50ft deep in fish and showed up really well on the Downvision mode on the Raymarine Dragonfly...
This was really enjoyable fishing with plenty of action. The Mackerel were of good size too with many over the 1lb mark, the bigger ones up around 1lb 6oz.
I caught around 50 or so mackerel before it was time to try for something different.... Thornback Ray. These aren't a prolific species in Cornwall especially on open coast grounds where often fish, however they do take residence in some of the river estuaries and can often be caught year-round. I located a patch of sloping ground and dropped down the anchor.
I would be using my Ugly Stik 12-20lb Braid rod matched with an Avet SX5.3. A simple running ledger rig with a hook baited with a fresh sliver of Mackerel was sent to the bottom. After half an hour nothing was really happening so set up the lighter lure rod with the same rig and cast that out too. You can guess which rod i had the first bite on!
The lure rod was soon buckled over with what felt like a hard fighting ray attached to the end. A good fight and a ray was soon visible below the kayak. A well-marked Thorny was soon on my lap. Not a big one but around 4 or 5lb. A quick snap and he was soon released.
The fish must have switched on the feed as it didn't take long for another bite to come along, again on the light rod. Thornback number 2 was soon arching the rod over!
A little while later the heavier rod got a bite but whilst waiting to strike the other rod was going off too! I let the fish sit on the light rod bait whilst i dealt with the other rod. It was a typical ray bite... strong bites as the fish munches at the bait, followed by a short run as the fish moves off with the bait. I let the fish settle again and start munching the bait before lifting into it. These weren't big fish but they were giving a good account of themselves, often taking line on short runs. The fish fish was brought aboard and then it was time to sort the next one. Another fun fight on the light rod and i soon had two Thornbacks in the kayak.
This was getting to be a really enjoyable session! I love fishing for Rays, and it is nice to catch a few Thornbacks as i don't often fish in areas where they are worth targeting. They are quite pretty fish, and these ones are from fairly clear water so tend to have well defined markings compared to Thornbacks from muddier waters.
Particularly interesting are their eyes and the bizarrely shaped flap of tissue laying over them. This piece of tissue is known as the operculum papillare and features many 'finger-like' lobes which function to alter the amount of light reaching the eye, similar to how our own eyes pupils dilate and constrict depending on light conditions.
Thornback number 5 was soon followed by Thornback number 6 before i needed to call it a day, both on the light rod again which was brilliant!
I was trying some new gear on the water today too. First up was a new cag... the Palm Bora Jacket. This is Palm's top spec touring cag made from XP-3 layer breathable fabric and featuring a roll-away storm hood, velcro adjustable wait with twin-waist system for pairing up with dry trousers/bib, latex wrist cuffs, inner velcro adjustable collar with 1/4 zip outer collar amongst other features. It feels a proper quality piece of kit and will be getting a workout this year as my main cag for kayak fishing.
Secondly, i had a new set of sunglasses! I've been after a decent set for sometime. I wanted polarised lenses with UV protection, and a design that floats incase they get dropped overboard. Last week i was made aware of Dewerstone who make wooden frame glasses that are proving popular in the paddling world. A quick look on their website and they had several types which would fit the bill nicely! I opted for the rather snazzy 'Cirros' with a black bamboo frame and red/orange reflective lenses. They are great, and they match the new Palm Bora cag too! For less than £45 squid you can't go wrong 😎 no more squinting in the sun!
Enough posing it was time to go home! It had been a brilliant day with practically non-stop action. The target species was caught along with a few more that i don't often catch. Spring is here and the fish are waking up! Bring on the next session!
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