How to catch and iden­tify the var­i­ous species


W ith water tem­per­a­tures reach­ing their warm­est and al­gal blooms now al­most over, sum­mer angling can be dif­fi­cult, to say the least. How­ever, rays will come to the res­cue for boat an­glers.

The water, es­pe­cially to the West­ern Ap­proaches of the Bris­tol Chan­nel, clears to the opac­ity of gin, cre­at­ing a crys­tal­clear over­head the­atre, which is alien to our res­i­dents that are used to more murky wa­ters in which to hunt.

Rays do not seem to be af­fected to any great ex­tent. These fish are present on our lo­cal grounds through­out the year, pro­vid­ing a great al­ter­na­tive when other tar­get species are play­ing hard to get.

The four species that are most com­mon to the Chan­nel an­gler are the thorn­back, blonde, small-eyed and spot­ted rays, all of which can show up at any time. All four can be taken in good num­bers, and to spec­i­men sizes, so tar­get­ing them from time to time can be great fun.

What seems to be an ever-in­creas­ing prob­lem here, though, is the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the species.


When tar­get­ing the small-eyed ray, I tend to favour shal­low in­shore sand­bank ar­eas where sandeels will al­most cer­tainly be present. These sporty lit­tle rays can be taken in large num­bers if you hit on the right mark.

A light up­tide rod with a mul­ti­plier reel loaded with good braid is ideal for these fish. Though sandeels are great, the small­eyed will also take a fresh fil­let of mack­erel tipped with a strip of fresh squid.

With any ray fish­ing, it al­ways pays to re­spond to the bite early. If you give the fish too long to at­tend to its meal, it will of­ten swim off with the bait, wrap­ping

Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Dave Roberts

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