Sunday, 27 February 2011

Blondes make me sick!

After three cancelled trips, I finally got out for my first boat trip of 2011. I was on Silver Spray skippered by Sam Cumming in search of blonde rays and spurdogs that inhabit the offshore banks 15-20 miles out of Poole.

The tidal flow on these banks is so powerful that these marks can only be fished on neap tides.  The rays are here to breed and by April they are gone, leaving only a handful of days each year that they can be targeted.

Thirty pound class rods were required as a pound and a half of lead was required to hold bottom. A 6/0 hook on a four foot flowing trace of 100lb mono was baited with a mackerel and sandeel cocktail. The heavy nylon was necessary as spurdogs are toothy critters and there was always the chance of a decent conger.

The sea got a bit lumpy and for the first time during this challenge I suffered from a bout of sea sickness. On previous trips I had been so careful, avoiding alcohol and spicy food for 48 hours, combined with a preventative sea sickness tablet the night before the trip...... that will teach me!

It was a relatively slow day and we moved a couple of times during the day in search of better sport. Three blonde rays were landed with the largest, a male of 14lb (notice the long claspers in the photo) falling to my rod. These pre-historic looking creatures are really quite impressive in the flesh. The spurdogs were noticeable by their absence although one angler was bitten off having tackled up with a 40lb mono trace.

I also had a decent whiting which I rather dismissed at the time. In retrospect I wished I had got a photograph as at 2lb 6oz it was a personal best by miles.

It rained, it hailed, some of us were sea sick and it was difficult to keep your balance at times but as one lad said "you really know you are alive!"