Over the Last few year, I fished for stingrays in Tralee bay at least 10 full days with Dan lynch. With every trip and every fish we landed, we learned more and more about the bay. Through every flood and ebb of the tide, we would move to different locations of the bay for the next tide to start. We learned that certain sections of the bay fish better at different times of the tide. After many wasted hours catching nothing, [or should I say learning hours], we started to get a patterns on how and where the fish are through different stages of the tide. We decided to put our theory to the test last year. The plan was to move to the different spots at certain stages’ of the tide the minute the rods went quite
The weather in 2016 slightly improved in April last year and as we had nothing else to hunt for we decided to give it an early start in Tralee bay
Six am we were at the slipway getting ready for the day light to make an appearance so we could head to the monk hole for the start of the tide
As we arrived at the monk hole at the far side of the bay, we could see some kayaks heading towards us. As we dropped our baits to the bottom, the kayaks were starting too anchored outside us. It is a cool way to fish but I think fishing for fish that could kill you on an oversize surfboard is quite dangerous. I am not having a go at kayaking as I am thinking of buying one myself.
A growing sport is kayaking for rays, if you are unsure of the dangers of fishing for stingrays try to get a local kayak-fishing guide to bring you out and remember a small stinger sting is as deadly as a big one think safety first.
As we fished, the morning breeze got that bit colder and as the tide started to turn, I got a dog type bight on my rod. As I picked up the rod, my reel started to scream, I lifted the rod firmly to set the hook. With the fish using the tide to its advantage, it was hard to say how big it might be. As the ray breached the surface for the first time, we could see it was in around specimen weight. As it dove for the fifth time I could feel it was getting tired, as it came to the surface once more Dan was able to put the net underneath it, I eased off the pressure to let the tide push it into the net. With the fish on board, we drop the anchor buoy over the side, and headed to the shore to weigh it. As the weighing scales hit the 30lb mark, I jumped with excitement. With the photo taking and the fish put back, we headed back out.
My first specimen stingray of 30lb that I caught on crab in Tralee bay, a hard-earned fish that was well worth the effort over the last few years.
With the stage of the tide over on this spot, we headed up further in the bay to get ahead of them in our second spot. With the anchor down and rods out it did not take long before Dan got a small male undulate ray and a few minutes later, I landed a small painted ray.
Dan with a small undulate that was caught on a strip of mackerel on a size 3/0 hook
My second fish of the session was a male painted ray that took a sand eel on a flowing running trace
As it was approaching midday and the tide, starting to weaken it was time to head to the b&b to freshen up from our three am start. With a quick shower and feed, we were back in the water heading to spot three. The winds were warmed as the sun came out. it got so hot sitting in the cabin that I had to take off my flotation suit. Remember if changing into lighter clothing; make sure to put your life jacket on. With a few small Thornbacks rays and dogfish returned it was time to fish mark four with a quick a careful spin across the bay minding not to hit the sand bars. We arrived just as the tide was at its strongest. At this stage of the tide, the fishing is better for Thornback and undulate. Six or so of each were landed in that two hours, mostly caught by Dan. Redemption for me was when I landed a pup Tope and stinger, and just before the fishing tapered off I got a surprise when I landed a small turbot.
This pup Tope was a first for me in Tralee bay I would love to catch more of them in the larger models.
A small stinger can be as deadly as a large stinger in some case more so as they can whip there tale twice as fast as there larger brothers and sisters.
This stunning looking turbot put a great end to an enjoyable fishing day
Day 2 was the total opposite; the winds were ten miles faster and coming from the west. The weed was becoming a problem and the cloud cover brought the temperatures down to six to eight degrees, and the swells made it too dangerous to go into the shallow spots, We made a decision to call it a day and weight for the next good spell.
It was the following Saturday the weather forecast was given good with light winds and good sunny spells. Like last week end we headed off again at three am and was fishing by seven am. This time we were going to fish for the day as our second day was a disaster the week previous. With the boat in the same gps mark all was left was to bait our hooks and get them to the bottom. A few hours passed before the tide started to run this was because that they were neap tides. As the tide started to push in the bay, I landed an undulate then Dan landed one.
These 55cm amazing looking undulate rays can grow a small bit larger and as they are back on the length base specimen list of 59cm it has made me want to catch more of them.
With the rod back in the water we suddenly saw a large sting ray jump out of the water and as Dan said did you see that his rod was nearly pulled clean over the gunnel thank god for his drag was set. With the ray twisting and turning trying, everything to get free, but lucky for Dan the hook had a good hold. When I slipped the net under the fish Dan gave a cheer. With the boat on sour the scales needle spun until it hit over the 40lb mark, what a fish. With the pictures taking and the fish swimming slowly along the shore. Dan jumped back into the boat and started the engine and we went back fishing. As we were talking about that fish and were laughing about we could go home now my rod screamed off and like a flash my rod was in my hand [yes my fishing rod,] and as I was tighten the drag the fish started to swim up tide to me. I gathered as much line as fast as humanly possible, then the fish kiting across the tide it was putting a lot of strain on my up tide rod. it took a couple of minutes more before I could get it under control. With the fish board and unhooked we put it in the sling for a quick weigh and as it went over specimen weight we untied the anchor and headed to the beach. like minutes before the fish brought the needle to over the specimen weight 33lb to be exact. We stayed fishing for a few more hours without going to our other spots. We had a few dogs but we did not care we had our specimen stingers that we worked so hard for we were packed up by half three and home just after six pm what a relaxing day.
Some of the ways I prepare my bait mackerel strip, sand eel and peeler crab.
Dan with his first specimen stingray that weighed over 40lb happy days.
This 33lb stinger put that warm feeling that you get when everything goes right
when putting back rays from a boat make sure they are upright and ready to swim off