carl mccormack big blonde ray

On normal years I normally find myself out fishing at least 2 to 3 times a week. This year I started off the year with a trip to the Canaries fishing. I fell in love with the place pretty rapidly, even if the fishing wasn’t as electric as it can be on that first visit and soon booked a return trip in March. After the fishing over there, even by it’s own standards sub-par, it’s really made me lose the bug for fishing back home and by September I had only done about 10 trips all year in the UK. None of them were very productive apart from 1 specimen Smoothound. It’s not just losing the bug, but I’ve also been very busy with work commitments and my partner and I are expecting our 1st child in February, and any other parent will no doubt know how much of a knock on that can have on our hobby!

Anyway, with that nice weather we had back in mid-September before the more recent storms moved in and put paid to it, I managed to give myself a kick up the butt and get out for a session on our local blonde ray marks, accompanied by two mates. Things started off relatively well with a turbot on both rods first cast, which whilst not the intended species are always a welcome catch none the less. Unfortunately after that it went quiet and as the light faded nothing else showed apart from a few dogfish, which unlike the turbot, are never welcome other than by a select breed of match anglers!

Even though it wasn’t the most productive session, after a good few months of not getting out it made me realise it’s not always about the fishing, sometimes its just about getting away from the stresses of life and enjoying the great outdoors, and even better if it can be done with a few mates too.

The next week I was itching to get back out, not a feeling I’ve had a lot of this year, and on the Friday wind, tides etc were all looking perfect to get back on the blonde marks. I couldn’t resist but my usual fishing mates couldn’t make it so this one was going to be a solo session. This was a true test that I was getting the bug back, as it would have been all too easy to find excuses once I knew my friends were dropping out, but I stuck at the plan and headed off in pursuit of my targeted species.

On arrival at the mark, conditions were perfect! I sent baits skywards and sat back and relaxed. It was a quiet night and after a good few hours  without a bite I was startled into life by a really fast run on my right hand rod. I reeled down and struck into what I knew was a ray, and following a nice little scrap I pulled in a small eyed ray about 7lb, not the target but it was very welcome, as most things non-dogfish would have been.

More quiet hours went by and daylight was fast approaching so i decided to call a it a day (or a night). I reeled in my right hand rod and started to pack away. Just as I was cutting the rig off I hear click click click. It was a great run on the other rod, not particularly fast but that unmistakable run of a decent blonde. I leaped into action and struck into the fish only to have the rod immediately pulled back with a big lunge! The fish held bottom hard on several occasions to the point it wouldn’t budge in the slightest. After some patience, persistence and steady pressure I finally got the fish to the surface and it slid perfectly up onto the rocks, a big relief when fishing alone with more restraints on landing options.

It was a good fish and I was fairly certain it was going to hit the magic 20lb mark. As I tried to unhook the fish it managed to clamp onto my finger! Luckily nobody was around to laugh, except for perhaps the ray thinking it had the last laugh. I managed to get it on the scales and it pulled them down to 20lb 7oz! I was well happy with his and after a quick picture I took a video releasing her back into the water and swimming off, always a great sight to see.

Packing up with a smile it was now broad daylight. As I go to pick up my tripod I see a big pod of dolphins go right past me! It truly was the icing on the cake and just what i needed to get the bug back.

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