All rays are slow moving bottom species, reserving energy and taking time to glide over the sea bed with a gentle flap of their wings, seeking live or dead food. Rays are a cartilaginous fish, which in normal speak means they have a skeleton consisting mostly of cartilage, not bone, and this is what relates them to their relatives the sharks.
From about April to August thornback rays move closer in, and we can target them close in.
The way we target them is either on the drift or at anchor. while at anchor anglers can downtide or uptide for them. Just don’t leave the rod unattended as they can give the rod a very good lunge when the take the bait. Once hooked, the fight from all rays is terrific. First you’ll have to move them off the bottom. When you do they will fight taking long searing runs with powerful beats of their wings. When they do tire, more often than not, they will hold mid-water in the tide, using their wings like a kite making them unmovable.
Rays fight differently to any other species and will certainly give a battle to remember!
All ray fishing is done using simple flowing traces or running ledgers with clear flowing traces. 30lb memory free mono will help with abrasion resistance from the ray’s abrasive mouth and trace lengths should be from three to five feet depending on how you want your bait presented.
Strong hooks are required as they have a strong mouths. a decent pair of pliers can be handy to unhook them quickly.
Baits should be either pinned or dragging through the bottom allowing some movement with the tide.
Uptiding will require the use of grip leads whereas when downtiding and drifting, plain leads or watch leads will be fine. Pennell rigged hooks can help with mounting larger fish baits aimed at the bigger fish.
Baits required for them we have found is mackerel, squid and crab. With the best bait been Fresh Mackerel.
While fishing clean ground other species of flat fish can be caught aswel as whitings, the now rare Haddock and the dreaded weaver fish.
Weaver fish have venomous spines along its dorsal fin and if your stung by The Weaver Fish its sting can be extremely painful.
The techniques for cathcing these other fish is similar to thornback fishing but using 2 or 3 hook flappers with smaller size hooks.
beads and spoons can be effective for flatfish. even flatfish will take artifical jellyworms when the water is clear enough.
Baits like mackerel, squid, lugworm, prawns, sandeel, andragworm can be effective.
Trips to target thornback rays need to be over 6 hours as they are a good 7 to 8 mile steam from scarborough.
Thornbacks have to be one of the best fish to watch been returned, as they slowly glide back to the bottom gracefully and gently.