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I wanted to catch a Ray.

Two options arose. Over the weekend I had been invited to meet up with a group of guys from the Solent Kayak Anglers forum. There had been reports of some big Thornbacks coming from that area. The other option was Clacton with Snapper and some of the Anglian guys. There were loads of ray being caught here, but of a smaller size. What to do ? In the end I stuck with the Solent as I had arranged this first.

We met up in Ellsmore car park with an easy launch into a fairly windy Solent. One of the guys, Mark spent ten minutes on his hands and knees in the car park with a chart and dividers working out how we were going to find our mark. Head straight out and turn left was his eventual conclusion. Luckily someone else had the coordinates. ‘What mark is this ‘I enquired. ‘The pout hole ‘came back the reply. Hmm that didn’t sound promising. Pout can be a pest in the UK stripping baits before the better fish can find it.

On the finder the hole was a drop off from 35ft into 65ft of water. Once anchored, the bites soon started. Luckily it didn’t live up to its name. Not a single pout was caught by me. Instead it should have been renamed the whiting and dogfish hole. They were on the baits in seconds. One of the local trawlers obviously thought we were in the right place. He can’t have been more than ten meters from catching Mark’s anchor before passing Dave.

A couple of hours of catching doggies and whiting in a very lumpy sea and a pee break and rethink was in order.

We now decided to stay a lot closer inshore in a 40ft gulley. The fishing here was slower but the doggies and whiting were still present. I was fishing bluey and sandeel wraps, mackerel and sandeel wraps, squid and sandeel wraps but could not find a ray.

In the end I stuck half a dozen big ragworm on a 3/0 hook and threw it out. Almost instantly it had interest which I presumed was whiting. However on striking it was obviously not. Ray on…. but what type. I have never caught a Thornback on rag and had a horrible feeling it was going to be a stingray. I’d love to catch one of these and they go big in the Solent but would have no idea what to do with it on the yak. In the end I didn’t have to worry about it as one of the best looking thornbacks I have caught came up through the water – mission accomplished even if it wasn’t as big as hoped.

Coming in I noticed we were one man short, but nothing to worry about. It seems the Solent guys have their own catering division. Pete had come in early and was waiting for us on shore with steaming mugs of coffee and bacon rolls. The perfect end to a great day on the water.


Only my second or third time on the Solent and I love fishing there but the boat traffic makes me nervous. Within 100 meters of us during the day we had Royal Navy Ships carrying out exercises, trawlers, hovercraft, yachts – you name it and it was on the water. I cann’t imagine what it is like at a weekend in the summer. I’m used to not seeing another person on the water where I usually fish so every time I hear an engine I am looking over my shoulder seeing what it is and more importantly where it is heading.

This was the first time these guys had seen the Cuda in the flesh. They had heard about it on the grapevine but the reality surprised them and there were many admiring comments and glances. I was lucky to get away with the whole outfit once Pete had set his heart on the seat.

Today was a great example of what kayak fishing in the UK is about. Being invited out and shown a new venue by guys I had never met before. The friendliness and hospitality of this aspect of the sport is what sets it apart from any other type of fishing I have been involved in and long may it continue. Many thanks to the Solent Kayak Anglers and I’m sure I’ll be fishing with them again soon.