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Had an invitation from Greg yesterday (Pennar Pointer) asking if I fancied a day at sea, he had not been out in a month and would itching to get out. Of course, I mean looking at the forecast it seemed as though it would be the only day to get out in fair conditions for quite some time.

We launched at Hobbs around 9am and made the ever pleasant journey down the Haven. The first part of the day was to hit the bank, get some livebait and try for some end of season plump Bass. Having got to the bank, joining three boats that were already there among the flocks of birds evidently attracted by masses of bait fish that we would be looking for. Only we wanted what was underneath the baitfish, pushing them up.

I sent down a string of Sabikis, and Greg sent down some mini shrimps, I was into a double shot of herring(good livebait and also my 33rd species for the year) but Greg thought he wouldn't waste time with baiting up and changing rigs and hook a bass on the shrimp... it escaped him though.

So I tackled up with a portland rig and a pulled a 4/0 Sakuma circle hook through the eyes of one of the very lively herring, sent it down and had no luck for two drifts. Greg wanst having anything on his shrimp either. I then got my other rod with sabikis size 6 on and thought about trying to get some more livebait.

Very shortly after hitting the bottom I was in, and it certainly wasn't baitfish.. what a tremendous fight on my uptider and light rig, this thing went like a tank and didn't want to be stopped, very very lightly hooked it was too but Greg was too quick with the net. A superb end of season bass at a nudge over 4lb, a real well fed thick fish.



Not to be outdone, Greg thought he would catch one literally seconds after mine. His went to 4lb 12oz though, again a thick well fed fish.



The fish went localised around a specific feature as bass often are around banks, these fish were chasing small bait fish all around the bank and unfortunately we couldn't locate them again, but we were both made up with such a fish each.

The next part of our master plan was to enjoy a few hours on the hook in the Haven after rays, codling, whiting etc. It took a little while to get through the dogs which were mauling every bait and combo and size we sent down. The tide wasn't running mega, and uptiding was difficult so I cast down tide a double rag and squid head.

Shortly after I had a very solid and strong pull down on the rod and was soon into a cracking fight, and up surfaced this. The first Small Eyed Ray I had caught in the Haven, not common here at all. And a cracker too as 7lb 4oz.



Greg, again not to be out done went on to catch another two rays, BOTH Small Eyeds and one going over 8lb. He has a picture somewhere of his ray. We both decided we would have more of a chance of a cod further up river, and looking back we both agreed we should have stayed on the rays as we didn't find a cod up river.

None the less it was a smashing day out in very pleasant conditions, thanks for asking me Greg, looking forward to the next already mate.

Just did this for me and the Mrs as well, the fillets were so thick I halved them and and wrapped them in bacon, topped with herbs and parmesan and roasted. The risotto had leeks, prawns, bacon and the bass that I didn't roast went in. Loads of fresh herbs and pepper.

 

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well done Luke...great report and pics again

well done on the new species for the list and your first small eyed...go abit in deep water don't they??

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
well done Luke...great report and pics again

well done on the new species for the list and your first small eyed...go abit in deep water don't they??

John
Cheers John, I had my first small eyed in Swansea in August and was very surprised by the scrap they can give. The bite this one gave was incredible. As I said we don't normally get small eyed in the haven, but to have 3 in such a short space of time might mean times a changing?

Luke
 

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Well done luke mate. Looks like you had a cracking sesh. My mate pugs said he seen you down hobbs in the morning going out. Been looking forward to hearing how you got on. Well done again
Adam
 

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Nice one Luke , lovely bass.

with regard to the small eyed rays surely Greg has a theory as to why they are showing?

If not, perhaps Enzo could ask his mate Pliny the elder.
 

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with regard to the small eyed rays surely Greg has a theory as to why they are showing?

Trying to escape those trawlers up in Swansea Clive but the big question where have the Thornies gone !!? Shame you couldn't make the trip but again Luke is more easily pleased.

Here's a picture of a funny hat
 

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with regard to the small eyed rays surely Greg has a theory as to why they are showing?

If not, perhaps Enzo could ask his mate Pliny the elder.
Sadly "The Plintser" as i knew him died at Pompei in AD 79 (you must remember Clive it was in all the papers) but shortly before his death, in an addendum to his classic work "Naturalis historia", entitled "Pisces havanus" (fishes of the Haven) he wrote

"The Small eyed ray is far more piscatorial in its diet than related species such as the Thornback and actively hunts and pursues smaller fishes such as Sandeel and, when in season, the Whiting."

That may explain what they are doing there but does not answer the question Why now? Why the increased occurence?

Perhaps the universal answer, the one response that explains everything in our modern world.

In his book (a real one this time) "Fishes of the British Isles and north west Europe" (-1968) Alwynne Wheeler, then curator of fishes at the Natural History museum, provides a distribution map for the S.E Ray that indicates it is at the northernmost point of its geographical range when it ventures into Danglers territory.

Today most sources suggests that the species may be be found around the coasts from north west africa northward up the Spanish and French Atlantic coasts, along the English channel, around southern Ireland and into the Bristol channel, south Wales and Cardigan Bay.

The modern distribution extends further east in the English Channel and further north into Cardigan bay than Wheelers data suggested 40+ years ago - almost as if this warmer water loving southern species was expanding its range and, presumably, becoming more abundant on the former edges of its old one.

If only there was a theory to suggest why this might be happening.

PS: A few quick points Luke.

We get a similar run of Small Eyes on the beaches up here at this time of year (chasing the Whiting).
Blondes are another species that chase down fish prey and like the Small Eyes can give a really good account of themselves particularly in shallow water. Running, stripping line etc.
Thornbacks are generally more inclined to be feeding on crab/shrimp etc and more often than not simply kite in the tide and put up little in the way of a fight.
Smaller (particularly male) Thornbacks do actively chase smaller fish and will attempt to put up a bit of a show but aren't really big enough to make much of an impression.
 

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great report & history lesson guys!!
brolly
 

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Would a new water cooled, gas fired, Power Staion raising sea temperatures within the Haven by some 5 degrees be the answer?.:g:
I reckon it might.

As I theorised earlier I was concerned about one thing. The distribution data I offered was genuine enough but Wheelers distribution map encompassed and spread northwards beyond the Havan 40 years ago suggesting that the absence of Small Eyes might be due to other factors. The most obvious was bottom composition. Small Eyes are notorious for their tendency toward a localised distribution, common where they occur but not widespread due to their fondness for a sandy bottom.

Why would the bottom of the Havan have changed? It probably hasn't.

So a much better theory I suggest is that they were previously absent due to the cooler micro-climate of the Havan, produce by the large volume of freshwater entering the system. This factor now countered by Gregs' new nemesis.

And thus a new fishery is born!

Well we're on history I have some old ministry trawl survey data from (I think) 1901 for Cardigan bay which makes some interesting reading. Off the top of my head some key factors:

1.Elasmobranch is the technical term for cartilaginous fish and encompasses all of the sharks, rays and doggies. In the survey about 95% of elasmobranch captures are Skate/Ray and 5% Doggie. Imagine a world in which we complain about the number of Ray we catch (pesk proportions) and award a cup for best Doggie (a rare and unusual capture).

2.Cardigan bay has a thriving Skate (I'm talking 200lb monsters) fishery, comprising Common and White species.

3.There are no recorded Small Eyes - None.

4.There are no recorded Bream - None.

A very different world. Why? Well I'll suggest 1.over fishing, 2.over fishing, 3.warming seas and 4.warming seas.


PS: I bet you're looking forward to the on board discussions next trip Ian!
 

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There'll be none of this west Walian country chit chat on a hard city trip as we'll be too busy hauling in prime east channel cod and relaxing over hot Oxo.....
Coming from that centre of academic excellance in mid Wales then surely Enzo should be allowed to bring us up todate with his research into the distribution and health of the Skate population. He might also like to expand on his theories as to why his crab oils are so productive in landing the bigger Ray when crabs are not known to be on their favoured food list.

If it gets all too much Dai, you can always go in the cabin for one of your power naps :sleeping: whilst us lowly west Walians try to improve our knowledge.
 
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