After our successful Flounder bash earlier in the day, we made sure that we were well fed and suitably geared up for the night session ahead. This would be on one of the many surf beaches Cork has to offer. On this occasion we were in search of Painted Ray, and in this particular area, if lucky enough to find them, they range from 6-14lbs. With light southerlies and relatively calm seas, our optimism was high.
The ever-present “doggies” made an early appearance, interrupted by large Whiting when they managed to find our Sand-eel baits first. With plenty of fish showing, our session was very enjoyable, but we were struggling to find the target species.
With the tide falling rapidly, we worked hard with two rods each, and shifting camp every ten minutes or so as we followed the tide down. The surf was also easing and calming down a fair bit, and I took this opportunity to wade a considerable distance, and “punch” the clipped-down Sand eel as far as possible. With one rod dropped short and the other at distance, I would hopefully gauge where the quality fish were feeding; and if there were any about at all. It wasn’t long before my “distance” rod buckled over and I initially suspected I had found a ray. However, although it was a fabulous bite, it soon became apparent that this was no ray species, confirmed when a strap Conger broke through the surf!
At least it made a change from the Dogs and Whiting that hammered each and every bait we put out there. Another distance cast back in the same area soon resulted in a good “thump” on the rod tip, definitely not a Whiting or a Dog this time. I let it develop further, taking another thump followed by the rod-tip arching well over. This had to be a ray! A steady lift and the fish was on, giving a great account of itself. With my head-lamp pointing beyond the rod tip and focused on the shock-leader, our target species powered past, using the surf action in a bid for freedom.
It is important, at this stage, to play it cool and wait for the next surge of water to push the ray towards the shore. Plenty of fish are lost at this crucial moment, when hooks are pulled free under excessive strain.
We continued into the early hours, following the tide down to low water, and over the turn. Bites diminished considerably, but as I packed away most of the gear, one final hit had me racing for the rod. Luckily I had slackened the drag as a safety precaution, as line ripped off the reel. I struck and hit into nothing. Although this may have been another ray, or perhaps a large Bass, I will never know. However, I couldn’t complain, as the evening session had been fabulous sport.
All too soon it seemed, our south-coast shore adventure had drawn to a close. We had a fabulous week-end session landing quality Whiting, specimen Flounder and hard-hitting painted Ray. Thanks go to my old mate Sidney and his brother Brian, without whose guidance, our trip would have been less successful. I do not doubt that we would have eventually found the fish, such is the quality of angling in this area, but when you only have a short period of time, these guys can fast-track you to the action.