October 24, 2011 Featured Article Read More →

Blonde Ray – Fishing and ID Guide

Today we look at the Blonde Ray in the sixth of our Species Fishing and ID guides.

If you have a picture of yourself with a Blonde Ray and want to show it off on this page please send it to contact@ssacn.org or post it on the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme’s Facebook page! Remember to keep checking www.tagsharks.com to make sure you don’t miss your chance to show off your PB shark, skate or ray!

Biology

Other Names: Raja brachyura

Description: Large ray with a sandy brown dorsal surface with some large light spots and many small dark spots that always reach the very edge of the wingtips. The ventral surface is white. Blonde Rays have a blunt snout and often have rows of thorns alone the spine and tail. Blonde Ray Map

Maximum Size: 120cm

Habitat: Blonde Rays are generally found over soft sea beds including clean sand and mud.

Depth: Shallows to 900m though generally <100m.

Distribution: Common on the north west coast of Scotland and the Outer Isles, Blonde Rays are occasionally caught around the south west coast though have become rarer in recent years.

Feeding: Blonde Rays are opportunistic predators and feed mainly on crabs, shrimp, squid, shellfish and small fish. Juveniles feed mainly on small shrimp; adult fish feed mainly on squid, sandeel, small fish and shrimp.

Biology: Male and female Blonde Rays mature at 8-10 years old at around 85-92cm long. Blonde Rays are oviparous (egg-laying); females lay 40-140 eggs each year. Egg cases are rectangular in shape and around 9cm long with horns at each corner, the upper horns are longer than the lower horns. Eggs are laid inshore between February and August, after around 7 months fully developed 20cm long Blonde Rays hatch and begin to feed actively. Blonde Rays may live for 50-100 years.

Caution: Blonde Rays have a row of sharp thorns on their dorsal surface along the spine and tail and often have thorns on the wings. Rays also have abrasive skin and strong jaws with crushing pads.

Current Fishery: No targeted fishery in Scotland though Blonde Rays are often taken as bycatch in mixed trawls for human consumption.

Conservation Status: Near threatened. Blonde Rays are vulnerable to depletion by overfishing due to their slow growth rate and low levels of reproduction.

GFAC Size: 100cm

Targeting Blonde Rays in Scotland

 

Tagging: The minimum SSTP tagging size for Blonde Rays is 50cm wingspan (5.25lb). For advice on tagging rays please refer to the SSTP tagging guide here.

Tackle: From the boat a 12-20lb class rod and suitable reel loaded with 30lb braid is sufficient. From the shore a 5-6oz beach rod paired with a strong multiplier or fixed spool reel loaded with 15-20lb monofilament mainline will handle most Blonde Rays in Scottish waters.

End Tackle: A single strong size 3/0 to 5/0 bronze barbless hook with a 60lb monofilament hook length is sufficient for Blonde Rays. Hooks should be matched to the size of the bait used and to cope with the chance of catching other species such as Thornback Rays when targeting Blonde Rays. Popular Blonde Ray rigs include pulley rigs, up ‘n’ over rigs and clipped down fixed paternosters. Clipped down rigs are particularly useful when fish are feeding at distance and a long cast is needed. From the boat a simple running ledger rig with a short hook length is sufficient and minimises tangles.

Bait: Popular baits include mackeral, squid, sandeel and herring.

Tactics: Blonde Rays are often found in the same areas as Spotted and Thornback Rays and as such are often caught when targeting other species.

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