Ticketty Boo! II now lives up at Loch Sunart for the winter, so Ayr SAC friend Darren Sloan, my daughter Sarah and I headed up for the day on Sat 25th September. Leaving the house at 5.30am, Sarah slept most of the way up there, and most of the way home too to be honest!
We sailed out from Salen and headed out into the deep channel that runs straight up the loch and got the anchor down on a favoured mark just after 9am. The mark didn’t dissapoint and a lovely female spurdog was tagged and released just after 10am. High water had been at 0750, so we fished the full ebb at this mark. Some smaller spurs, a few wee thornies and the inevitable LSDs followed. Just before slack water, we weighed anchor and headed down in the direction of the open sea to settle near one of the fish farms. It was a mark I hadn’t tried before and I was a bit wary of snagging the anchor on the cables, so moved a bit further away from the cages and buoys.
The first thornback fell to Sarah’s rod, which she had (reluctantly) baited up herself with a joey mackerel head and guts. A distinct thornie bite followed soon after when the rod bent over and didn’t come back upwards. I’d been teaching her about circle hooks, and not striking. When the second set of bites came she started winding slowly and then lifted the tip up to make sure the hook was set. We were well into the flood tide now which didn’t help her any. With Ray mouths being set quite far back from the nose, they invariably come up like a kite against the current and a small fish often feels much heavier until it gets to the surface. This one was no exception.
Although the kenzaki rod is very light for it’s class, it was obvious early on that this was a good fish. Sarah’s not very big and struggled at times to keep the rod tip out of the water. We had set the lever drag on the Penn 320LD reel fairly loose and this proved to be a good idea as the fish decided to try and show who was boss on a couple of occassions. Eventually, a lovely clean female Thornback Ray broke the surface from 220 feet below and weighed in bang on 9lbs.
As thornies mature, more thorns appear along the front edges. This only really leaves one place along the wing that the fish can safely be held without harming the angler. Sarah managed this (again with much nuovo teenager moaning!) for a couple of photos and then gently released the fish at the side of the boat with a huge big smile on her face.
The rest of the day brought another seven thornies for us of which four reached the minimum tagging size of 50cm across the wings. these weighed in at 5lb9 (Darren), 6lb13 (Me), 7lb6 (Me) and 8lb (Darren).
Good weather, good company, good location, good fishing, long journey home. Does life get any better?????????????
Sarahs Thornbak also earnt her the Suns ‘Catch of the Week’ prize – well done Sarah!!!
Sarahs catch in brief:
Species – Thornback Ray
Weight – 9lbs 0oz
Location – Loch Sunart
Boat/Shore – Boat ("Ticketty Boo! II")
Depth – 220 feet
Bait / Rig – Mackerel Head on an 8/0 circle hook fished on the bottom on a running leger
Rod – Daiwa Kenzaki 12-20lb class
Reel – Penn 320LD
Line – 50lb braid