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For the last week or so all I have been hearing about were reports of the fantastic Thornback Ray fishing from Clacton.

These fish arrive on the coast in numbers in spring and slowly spread out going further north, so you never know how long they will be in one place. They could be there a week, they could stay all summer you just never know.

With one report after another coming in it was only a matter of time before I was going to be heading that way. The only question was how long I would last before I gave into the temptation. In fact I lasted less than a week and after a few p.m.’s I found myself pulled up on Clacton sea front at 6.30 in the morning awaiting a variety of Anglian and Essex Kayak anglers.

Martin Collinson was the guy with the local knowledge. However he had fished for them three times in the last five days and was definite that he wasn’t coming along having already had his fill of ray fishing for that week. Then at around 10.30 the night before I get a message asking what time we would be there. I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist and it wasn’t long before he was pointing us in the right direction.

These fish are close to shore. Too far out to catch from the beach and much closer than most of the boats like to fish. A short 500m paddle out puts you over a small area of rough ground and soon all seven kayakers were anchored up and fishing. Within ten minutes the yell went out ‘ Ray on’ and Martin had a healthy bend in his rod.

For the next two hours the fishing was hectic. The ray seemed to come along in waves and if you had one on it was a safe bet you would get a double hook up so you needed to make sure the ratchets were set properly on the rods. Bites for ray are deceptive. You get a small rattle for three or four minutes while the fish moves over the bait, you have to learn to sit on your hands and wait..and wait..and wait…and just when you think nothing is going to happen the rod slams down as the fish decides to move off in the tide.

They fed steadily for a couple of hours while the tide was in full flood. I had six in this period, Martin had seven then decided he had definitely had enough of ray fishing for that week and headed in. Once the tide started to ease the ray fishing eased off and the usual suspects arrived on the scene. Codling, dogfish and the ever present whiting.

Everyone came in around mid-day as soon as the slipway was visible again. I finished on eight ray. Of which I kept three for the table. The best two were the first two fish going eight and a half pound each. Every angler caught ray averaging five or six fish each with each angler keeping two of three for the table and returning the rest.

Another fantastic day on the water, again with many anglers I hadn’t met before but people I will undoubtedly be fishing with again in the near future.