Monday, 6 May 2013

River Fal Thornback Ray Fishing 05-05-13

Thornback Rays migrate into the Fal Estuary from March to early May and this is the time for me to consider targeting them from the Kayak.  Although I am grateful for any species I catch, I enjoy targeting different species at different times of the year and today I decided to try for Thornback Ray.

I highlighted details of the Fal Estuary in a previous post and the method would be simple.  I would anchor close to the east narrows buoy, which marks the eastern outer edge of a narrow stretch of the main channel.  The east and west narrow buoys help guide the large ships into Falmouth docks.

East Narrows Buoy

Just to the east of the buoy is the once land that was flooded when the glaciers melted during the last ice age.  In this area, there are maerl beds.  The maerl grows in up to 30m of water in the UK and the Thornback Rays hunt for food amongst the maerl.

Maerl beds of the River Fal.

The tackle would be a 7'6" 12-20lb boat rod and an Abu 6500 reel loaded with 15lb nylon and a 30lb leader.  The running trace would be 4' to 6' of 30lb Fluorocarbon with a Wishbone Rig.  A wishbone rig is generally used for Plaice fishing however; I find it useful for a variety of species as it has the added benefit of being able to fish two baits on the same rig meaning more scent.

Lynx Wishbone Rig as Example

I intended to try for some fresh bait on the way to the mark and was hoping for fresh Mackerel, Herring, Sandeel or Launce by jigging a Herring Rig however, just in case, I had some frozen Mackerel with me.  Herring is natural bait for Thornback Rays along with Sandeels, Whiting, Dabs, and Crabs.

An ideal launch site for me is the St Just in Roseland Boatyard.  There is a launch fee of £3.00 payable to the boatyard.  From here, I have about a mile and a half paddle to the east narrows buoy.

St Just in Roseland Boatyard

 On the way to the mark the both the weather and the sea conditions were excellent.

Stopping on the way to see if I could catch some fresh bait, I managed a few Launce.  Frozen bait is fine but it is always better if you can have fresh.

Freshly Caught Launce

Once anchored at the mark the wishbone rig was baited up with two fillets of Launce.

The banks of the main channel of river Fal are shallow and I was fishing in about 15-20 feet of water therefore, rather than lower the bait to the bottom I cast it away from the kayak.  With the bait on the bottom, the waiting game began.  To keep myself occupied I occasionally jigged a Herring Rig and managed to catch a tiny Gurnard, which was returned but what beautiful fish, they are.

The fishing was slow but eventually there was a few gentle knocks on the rod tip followed by a pull and a fish was on and I was pleased to see it was a Thornback Ray.

Thornback Ray

That was the only Ray caught but I was very pleased to catch one.  The weather was great and the paddle back to the launch site was a pleasure.

Back at the launch site, what a lovely evening to end a day's fishing.


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