Hello and welcome to another tutorial video of Basic_Fishing. In many of my videos you would see my rod with a massive bend plus hearing my reel screaming and my line being pulled to the breaking point.
These moments for me are quite exciting and it always adds thrill to my fishing. In this video I’ll be going over the basics on ‘How to catch’ and ‘Deal with’ Stingrays/Eagle Rays if you end up hooking into one.
Hope you enjoy watching this video and I hope you learn a thing or two on ‘Stingray/Eagle Ray Fishing.’ Now for those who aren’t exactly sure on what a ray looks like this is it: it’s a large fish with a wide body with a long tail.
and just like sharks, they are muscular, heavy and have flexible cartilage. Now in NZ there are 3 species of ray that gets caught and are present around beaches, rocks and harbours and are easy to identify.
The short tailed stingray, long tail stingray and the most common of all the eagle ray. As well as encountering these species, they are usually big as well. My personal biggest stingray caught had a wingspan of 1m but they can grow a lot bigger.
The short tailed stingray is very broad and densely built and is a true heavy weight. The tail is short hence the name short tailed and has a sharp barb sticking out of its tail as well as having small spikes sprouted about it like a medieval mace.
The long tailed stingray has a similar body shape as the short tailed but their tail is much more longer and more whips like. Eagle ray’s body are brown and have some blue spots around it and they have a habit of gliding around the water as if they are flying and they do many jumps around the surface when caught.
Their tail is very thin and very flexible and it’s truly more whiplike than the rest of the rays. All rays, they have no teeth and these are bottom feeders. They feed by crushing their prey with their powerful jaws but they do have a sting based on their tail and this makes them quite fearsome.
Stingrays due to their large size usually live around open spaces where they can freely swim around and find patches to find food. Out here for example this is an ideal fishing spot for stingrays. Here on the Manukau Harbour there are many mudflats out there which is an ideal habitat and feeding ground for the rays.
Sandy bays is also where the rays come and go as well and they usually dig up in the sand for any food that is hidden within. Busy harbours also provide a good home for the ray as well. These rays will be anywhere, where they can find a large source of food to sustain their large bodies.
Rays are usually more present in the harbour especially during the summer months. The rays however stay around in the harbour both for food and for protection because even these large animals are prey for predators such as Killer Whales and sharks such as Bronze Whalers.
For those who are interested in catching rays out of interest, food or just to tick off the species bucket list there are some simple tips and tricks on how to get them. Get your bait out as far as you can and use a very large bait whether it is fresh or old and smelly.
Although to be honest I had rays take really small baits too before but those times, the ray would have accidentally got foul hooked. Use reasonably tough gear in order to have a fighting chance. Here I had a 13 foot surf rod that was strong enough to handle a ray and a good quality reel that had a good drag system and I spooled it with 40lb line although I recommend 20lb as a minimum.
Although I have caught rays using lighter gears but those times were one of those times that I didn’t expect it but either way thanks to my experience, I was well prepared. However on some days catching rays can be a bit of a challenge and unfortunately I wasn’t able to prevent what happened in the next scene here.
I got a bit too impatient and tried to pull the ray too hard and this was the result. In addition, since rays are bottom dwellers, the rig that is suitable to catch them is a rig like the one I usually use.
The running rig is ideal because it sits down on the bottom and this allows the ray to find it very easily. I have caught rays using the typical ledger rig that I use off the wharf or the pulley rig that I use for surfcasting or ‘Long Distance Fishing.
‘ Any rigs will get the ray but the running rig seems to get them the most. I like to use heavy trace as well because it will be able to withstand abrasion against the rocks and when the ray runs they run hard and will run into a lot of fouls and the line usually gets a bit damaged from the rocks.
I generally use large hooks for several reasons: one is that having a large bait in the water it will takes some time before the pickers can strip the bait off the hook and sometimes other fish species such as the kingfish, snapper or kahawai will take the bait before the ray does The hook style I prefer to use when targeting stingray is a suicide hook: it is a lot easier to take the hook out of the stingray’s mouth whereas the circle hook gets stuck too easily to the point where getting the hook out is almost impossible.
For bait this rays will take anything. They are not fussy at all From old to fresh bait, fish to shellfish bait these rays will eat anything just to keep themselves filled up. Generally using a large bait usually gets a ray’s attention and if not then the other fish species as well.
So in another words if the rays don’t take the bait, other fish will. Now rays are very large animals so when they bite the bait, this tends to happen a lot. They run either like a train, bus or a tank.
When hooked onto a ray make sure your drag is set onto a constant pressure and not too tightly. By setting your drag in a correct pressure it can make a differences between loosing it or landing the ray.
If you apply too much pressure this can happen. What happened there was on this bait runner I forgot to set my main drag properly and I ended up losing the stingray in a short period of time. Sometimes the ray also does the ‘slack’ bite when the tension of the main line goes very loose because the fish is swimming towards you with the bite.
Sometimes when this happens you could be in for a bit of a shock since any fish will do the ‘slack’ bite like kahawais and gurnards. For those who want to release their ray this is a tip on ‘how to’ release them.
Let’s face it: these creatures are quite majestic and are also quite peaceful looking but many people fear rays for one reason alone: their stingers. These rays have a sharp barb located at the base of their tail, not at the tip and many anglers fear the barb of the ray.
As a matter of fact the ray’s barb is strong enough to kill a baby orca whale. However despite the fearsome looking weapon, this animal will use it ONLY out of self-defense and out of fear when attacked and its goes without saying that this animal will lash its tail around when it’s been pulled out of the water against its own will.
This method I am using is one of the most effective way of releasing a ray unharmed. Usually many people will pull a ray by putting their fingers in their spiracle which acts like a gill to a fish. The spiracle is a hole located right behind the ray’s eyes This will hurt the ray since it is linked to their organs.
The method I use prevents too much complications and it’s a simple method to use. After landing the ray, I simply slide my hand gently in its mouth. Remember to feel for the hooks to prevent getting yourself hooked in the finger.
By pulling the ray by the mouth it won’t hurt them and this is also an easy method to prevent getting stung by the ray since you are using the body as a shield. I recommend using pliers to pull the hook out since it is a lot easier.
Then if you’re planning to release the ray just simply slide it back into the water and no harm done. Another trick to do is if you are unconfident about the stinger, cover the tail with a wet towel and this will provide you with some protection while you remove the hook from the mouth.
And before moving onto the demonstration there are some tips and tricks you really need to remember before you go ray fishing. After casting, always remember to set your drag before you leave it on the rod holder because rays can easily break the line off, break the reel, break the rod or worse pull the rod over.
I usually like to set it very loosely allowing the fish to run with it before winding it in. By setting the drag properly you are mostly likely to land the fish without problem than having to lose it after several minutes of fighting it.
Now here is a demonstration to show you on ‘How to Catch Stingray.’ It was the perfect summer’s day and the ray numbers were usually very high due to the warmth of the water as well as the abundances of food.
First of all what I did was I threw out some berley trail into the water to get some fresh bait. These yellow eyed mullets were great bait for any species. By having some berley into the water this allows the baitfish to swarm around the area.
And these were what I was after: small yellow eyed mullets. These were great bait to use for all species and after getting some into the bucket I got one good sized one and I used the head section of the bait.
By exposing the gut cavity this will attract the fish to the bait. And I like to use the head section as well because head sections are more tougher and will last a lot longer against the small pickers.
It wasn’t long before I hooked onto my first ray of the day and this was a very big fish as well After fighting it for a long time, I honestly did not expect this to happen and this was a very CLOSE call.
….. OH!!!! Holy Crap!!! I don’t know what happened there but my guess is is that my trace had ran into so many abrasions and the pressure that I was applying on the ray caused it to snap off or that the fish was caught on a keeper hook and since I obtained a lot of pressure onto the uni knot that would have cause it to break up as well.
Either way the lead nearly hit me in the face and that was the most scariest experience I ever had to go through in my life. And ever since that day I decided to use ‘Snell Knots’ to prevent break offs like that.
After that near disaster I moved on using yellow eyed mullet as bait once again. Unfortunately I was having a bit of a midday snack when I had another bite on but after eating really quickly I was able to fight the fish and land it perfectly.
This time with no issues. And this was my final fish of the day. This fish was very, very strong and I obviously knew that this was a ray but unlike the eagle ray however it wasn’t moving very fast and it wasn’t pulling much line but either way it was very, very powerful.
As I pulled it in I realized it was a short tailed stingray. Unfortunately the line snapped again and this was because I didn’t wind it all the way to the shockleader but I was able to get the fish before it got away.
This was another very big ray and it had a mean looking barb at the end of the tail and it was trying to whip me out of self defense but obviously I meant no harm to this beast and I released it unharmed back where it can grow bigger.
Thank you for watching this video on ‘How to catch Stingray’ and if you are interested in watching my other tutorial videos please check them out. Click here or click in the link in the description below.
Again thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time.