Sea Angling in Ireland - Blonde Ray


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Blonde Ray, Raja brachyura

Irish Record Fish: 36.75 lbs 16.67 kgs
Caught: Cork Harbour 1964
Boat Specimen: 25 lbs 11.34 kgs
Shore Specimen: 12 lbs  5.44 kgs
Photo Credit:

courtesy of Jim Clohessy

 The picture shows Tony Tait with his first Blonde Ray, and what a way to start... with a 28 lb specimen taken on Jim Clohessy's boat fishing above the Turbot Bank in Cork Harbour.

Introduction: The Blonde Ray is caught in large numbers when seeking other rays.  It grows larger than the Thornbacks , to > 30 lbs ( 13 kgs) but anything > 10 lbs (4 kgs) is a fair fish.  There is never any difficulty with identification!  Like most rays it is typically found in relatively shallow water and/or over sand.  In early 2002 a 30 lbs specimen was returned alive to the Shannon Estuary by a member of Limerick Sea Angling Club, from the shore. It is the availability of large fish from the shore that has seen a recent upsurge in angling for rays.  My thanks to Dr Ian Lawler of Bord Iascaight Mhara for his assistance.

Boat tactics: For something this size, a standard 20 lbs set-up is more than enough when fishing for them off a boat, and you can drop down to 12 lbs or even 8 lb if you feel up for the battles ahead!  For blonde rays, where the ground is rough and you ssupect the repsence of big fish, you could go up to the 30 lbs standard -  these rays do get big!  They are typically encountered when fishing for other ray - most often the more common Thornbacks- in shallow inshore waters from March of April onwards, depoending on the weather.  A wire trace is not essential but for the bigger fish it may prove useful.  Whilst rays do not possess teeth, their rasping pads can make short work of light mono lines.  Baits need to be fresh mackerel cones attached to strong, preferably forged and/or bronzed 6/0 hooks although smaller hooks on a pennel rigs on strong mono will work. We find most catches reported around slack water / low tide, although this is less important fishing from a boat than it is from the shore.

Shore tactics: As with all rays, they seem to prefer calm conditions and will come into very shallow waters, especially in or around broad estuaries. Sandy beaches on the South and West Coasts - the Shannon Estuary regularly produces big blonde rays from the southern shores - seem to be your best bet, and this ray can show up fairly early, from March onwards...marks around Glin and some of the piers on the southern shore are ideal.  Clearly Cork Harbour is a good sheltered spot although the bigger fish tend to be caught from boats rather then the shore.  Whitegate is a known shore mark in Cork but you have to be able to cast over 100 metres.