Banner
Rays
Ray

Rays

The Bristol channel is well known for it's ray fishing being home to four main species Smalleyed, Blonde, Thornback and Spotted.

The most commonly caught of the four is the Thornback Ray which can be landed all year round but March to November being the main months and April to July being the best of these. The average size for the area is around 8lb with a good specimen topping 14lb the welsh record being 31lb07oz this is also the UK record. They can be caught over most types of ground sand, mud, shingle and light rough and prefer shallow coastal waters. They can be caught on a variety of baits but mackerel, squid and peeler crab work best.

Next on the list is the Smalleyed Ray which can be targeted from April to November with May to October being the best of these. The average catch weight is around 8lb with a good specimen being over 11lb the welsh record currently stands at 15lb2oz the UK record is 17lb 07oz. Theses rays are found over sandy ground and range from coastal shallows to a depth of 100ft.They can be caught on mackerel, squid, peeler crab and sand eel with squid and sand eel cocktails being the best bait.

The smallest and least caught of these is the spotted ray, these ray generally live in deep water over 100ft and are found over all types of ground. They are mostly caught from April to July when they move into the coastal shallows to spawn. The average weight is around 3lb with a specimen fish being 5lb, the welsh record is 6lb 11oz with the UK record being 8lb 3oz. They can be caught on mackerel, squid, peeler crab and sand eel they are often caught when targeting small eyed ray.

The biggest of the four is the Blonde Ray with an average catch weight of about 15lb with a specimen weight of 20lb the current welsh record is 31lb with a uk record standing at 38lb 09oz .These ray are generally found over sandy or slightly rough ground with sandbanks being a favoured habitat. They are mostly caught from April to October with the best months being May to September . Mackerel Squid and Peeler Crab are the best baits to use.

The other species of ray such as the electric, sting and undulated are seldom caught in the Bristol channel but can be targeted in other area's of the UK

A simple running ledger or helicopter rig can be used to fish for all the above rays. The hook length should be 4-5 ft long and made from 80lb+ mono to combat their strong jaws and to help keep the bait firmly on the seabed while also keeping the bait clear of the weight and mainline should a ray settle over the bait, the hooks should be a strong Viking or big mouth extra 4/0 or 6/0 type hook mounted pennel style. Big baits work well, fresh mackerel fillets, whole squid, two or three sand eel with the head and tail removed to increase the scent trail and peeler crab are all good on there own and mixed up into cocktails, although if using squid in a cocktail it's better to remove the head and skin and cut the body length ways and use the two halves.

The first indication you usually get that a ray has arrived is a small rattle on the rod tip, this usually happens when the ray settles over the bait causing a false bite so try to ignore the first bite, if another fish species has taken the bait you'll soon know if the bite starts repeating itself. If no positive take develops after 10 minutes reel in the see if the ray has eaten the bait and is just sitting there. Most rays don't give much of a fight , rather using there shape to kite in the tide, the exception to this is the blonde ray that will give a good fight even in the lightest of tide flows.


Blonde Ray

(Raja brackyura)

Minimum Size

45cm across wings

Average Caught Weight

12lb

Specimen Weight

20lb

Best baits

Mackerel

Squid

Peeler Crab

Small Eye Ray

(Raja microcellata)

Minimum Size

45cm across wings

Average Caught Weight

8lb

Specimen Weight

11lb

Best baits

Sandeel

Mackerel

Squid

Peeler Crab

Spotted Ray

(Raja montagui)

Minimum Size

45cm across wings

Average Caught Weight

3lb

Specimen Weight

5lb

Best baits

Sandeel

Mackerel

Squid

Peeler Crab

Thornback Ray

(Raja clavata)

Minimum Size

45cm across wings

Average Caught Weight

8lb

Specimen Weight

14lb

Best baits

Mackerel

Squid

Peeler Crab