October 31, 2011 Featured Article Read More →

Spotted Ray – Fishing and ID Guide

Today we look at the Spotted Ray in the seventh of our Species Fishing and ID guides.

If you have a picture of yourself with a Spotted 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 montagui, Starry Ray, Homelyn Ray

Description: Small to medium sized ray with a sandy brown dorsal surface with many large dark spots that do not reach the edge of the wingtips. The ventral surface is white. Many Spotted Rays have a faint eyespot on each wing made up of a large pale spot bordered by small dark spots. Spotted Rays have a blunt snout and a single row of thorns alone the spine and tail. Spotted Ray Map

Maximum Size: 80cm

Habitat: Spotted Rays are generally found over clean sandy sea beds.

Depth: Shallows to 530m.

Distribution: Common on the north west and reduced populations on the south west coast of Scotland and the Outer Isles.

Feeding: Juvenile Spotted Rays feed mainly on small crustaceans. Adult fish are more opportunistic and feed on crustaceans, worms and small fish.

Biology: Male and female Spotted Rays mature at around 55cm (3-8 years old). Spotted Rays are oviparous (egg-laying); females lay 60-70 eggs each year. Egg cases are rectangular in shape and around 8cm long and 3-5cm wide with long horns at each corner. Spotted Ray egg cases do not have keels (wide, flattened edges). Eggs are laid inshore between April and July, after 5-6 months fully developed Spotted Rays hatch and begin to feed actively. Spotted Rays may live for up to 14 years.

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

Current Fishery: No targeted fishery in Scotland though Spotted Rays are often taken as bycatch in mixed trawls for human consumption. Due to its small size, Spotted Rays are generally not targeted commercially.

Conservation Status: Least concern. Spotted Rays are generally not targeted commercially and appear to have a high recruitment rate (the number of fishing surviving from egg to adult) and as a result Spotted Ray populations in many areas have remained relatively stable. However, in other areas Spotted Ray numbers have dropped significantly.

GFAC Size: 55cm

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

Targeting Spotted Ray in Scotland

 

Tackle: From the boat a 6-12lb class rod and suitable reel loaded with 30lb braid is sufficient. From the shore a 4-5oz beach rod paired with a strong multiplier or fixed spool reel loaded with 12-15lb monofilament mainline is suitable.

End Tackle: A single strong size 1/0 to 3/0 barbless hook with a 50lb monofilament hook length is sufficient for Spotted Rays. Hooks should be matched to the size of the bait used and to cope with the chance of catching larger species such as Thornback and Blonde Rays when targeting Spotted Rays. Popular Spotted Ray rigs include 2-hook flappers, 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 is sufficient and minimises tangles.

Bait: Popular baits include mackeral, squid, sandeel, prawn and peeler crab.

Tactics: Although Spotted Rays are relatively small, care should be taken when using light tackle as it is not uncommon to catch other species such as Thornback and Blonde Rays when targeting Spotted Rays.

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