We met early morning and chatted about various tactics, rigs, baits and i heavily emphasised the importance of bait presentation before we headed off to the mark. Light winds with a drop of swell and low foggy cloud made for an eery paddle out but all was fine and the heavy bank of fog stayed away from the coastline with the offshore wind. We dropped anchor and Huw tethered off my bow. Big mackerel baits down and the wait began..... All was very quiet.
After a while we had some interest in the baits but not from the ray we were after, dogfish and quite a few of them too. A charter boat in the distance started to catch ray as the tide started to flood so i called for a move and we paddled a few hundreds into deeper water. It was a good shout as it wasn't long before i was talking Huw through how to deal with the ray that was burying into his bait..... he was into his first ray!
Expletives flew through the air as the ray resisted his attempts to lever it from the seabed. His reasonably light rod was doubled over. He was smiling and so was i watching him battle with his first decent kayak fish. In the meantime i was into a ray of my own and this gave me chance to show Huw how to best land and handle a ray. He succeeded in landing it first time..... a fine Blonde ray around the 10lb mark... result!
The kayak jolted to one side as the other rod ripped over with line pouring off the reel.... something had hit the joey flapper and was running hard! It took 60-70 yards of line before i could bring it to a halt... and it sat there buried/suctioned onto the seabed.... this was a bigger one!! It realised it had to move as i applied more and more pressure and surged off uptide, taking us off the anchor, before swinging up into midwater....
I gained some line then it took it back with a few powerful wing flaps, this went of for some time until i finally caught a glimpse of the beast about 10 m below the kayak and it was looking big! I prepared for her to surge off again as it approached the surface but i think she had fought her fight deep down and managed to glide her to the side of the kayak first time. I struggled to pull it over the gunwale with one hand but a huge surge of effort and she was on my lap. I was knackered, she had given me a right pasting! Huw did the honours with the camera as i knelt to hold her up and weigh her.... 23lb! A new PB and a fish I've put a lot of effort in to catch... result! A stunning female with a wingspan of 74cm (wider than the Abaco!) who was in the process of laying an egg case so she was returned quickly after a few photos.
Whilst i was trying to return the Wrasse Huw informed me that a fish was devouring my other bait... i hadn't bothered to hook it whilst trying to sort the Warsse out. Time i got round to it the fish was on and another weighty fish made its way to the surface, it was a dogfish and one that i don't mind catching... A Greater Spotted Dogfish more commonly known as a Bull Huss, around the 7-8lb mark.... excellent!
The fish will get a break for a few weeks as I'm back off to Uni this weekend to start a Mres in Marine Biology based jointly at Plymouth University and the Marine Biological Association. I will manage the odd weekend trip out if the weather plays ball so hopefully i will be out again soon. Until the next session, whenever that may be, i shall bask in the pleasant memories of an epic summer of kayak fishing with some great people and new friends.... Happy Days!