Looking for Ray
I had a very busy week this week and next week will be no different. Time on the water will be scant and I only managed a quick session this week. I imagine next week will be the same.
Kerry is famed for its fishing and one family of fish in particular – rays. These cartilaginous fish are elsmobranchs; flattened members of the shark family. I wanted to check out a few marks to see if they were present with a view to returning later on to tag any specimens caught for ongoing research involving Inland Fisheries Ireland.
With a window of just a couple of hours I paddled into a very strong current and dropped anchor knowing that by the time two hours had elapsed the flow would have weakened considerably as the tide would be beginning to turn. It pays to plan trips around the tides and the ‘rule of twelfths‘, particularly when anchoring comes into play.
Well stationed in the flow I was ready to send baits to the bottom and had with me a selection of old sandeels, peeler crab and some mackerel. The sandeels went down first but being old they turned to mush instantly so the rest of the packet was used to feed the crabs. The rest of the short session saw me use crab bound to the Cox & Rawle Uptide Extra 4/0 hook with the Bait Weaver with a mackerel fillet ‘jacket’ bound over this.
Before long there was a nod on the rod tip followed by the rod arching over into a small thornback ray. Even a small fish feels good when it kites in the current and good gear needs to be used for ray in case of hooking up with a double figure fish. As the name suggests thornbacks are covered in small sharp spines and the ‘thornie rash’ all over my hands this morning serves as a good reminder to bring some protection next time!
Rays usually travel in groups and true to form it wasn’t long before I hit a second fish. A short procession of small males came to the kayak. The thieves were around again today but this time they were only interested in bait; a few crabs and the odd mackerel hitting the peeler/mackerel offering I was using. With a slackening tide the ray bites dwindled so I decided to chuck a lure in the hopes of a hit. A Sakura L16 shad and sandeel both received hits and the culprits appeared to be small bass with one being dropped not far from the kayak. Better luck next time.
Time and tide waits for no man and reluctantly I had to haul anchor to get home to attend to other things. A nice surprise on hauling anchor was a constellation of small starfish that attached themselves to the anchor chain. I let them off back into their watery home and headed back for shore having completed a short but satisfying trip.
I have noticed in the past couple of days the reporting and sharing of a couple of ‘news articles’ in British and Irish press warning beach users to beware of the harmless free-floating vallela. This hydrozoan has been reported as being a member of the jellyfish family and related to the Portuguese man of war. The organism is not related to the jellyfish, does not sting and will not eat your children! As you can see from the two images below, contact with the skin is about as risky as picking up a digestive biscuit.