Author: Terra Firma Tackle
Pelagic Stingrays (Pteroplatytrygon violacea) are an usual, rare, but present species found in California waters as well as worldwide. It is a member of the Diamond Ray (Dasyatidae) family but is easily distinguished from its relatives by its jet black skin and purple/black underside. These rays spend most of their time offshore, in water so deep that they rarely encounter the sea floor. As pelagics, they send most of their time near the surface, actively hunting small fish, crustaceans, and even jellies. They do possess a long and potent stinger, and caution should be taken when handling them. They can reach sizes up to 100lbs, but are far more likely to be encountered at sizes under 2 feet in diameter.
Black Ray, Snot Napkin, “What the heck is that thing”
If the landbased angler is going to encounter this species, it is likely to be off of the piers. Since they rarely spend any time near the ocean bottom, it is far more likely that they will be caught on suspended baits or floated rigs than any other means. They will eat whatever is presented, but they prefer finbait for the most part. They have small mouths and small baits are more likely to result in a hook up than larger ones.
Pelagic rays are not hard fighting fish. They do jump when hooked, and due to their potential size can provide the angler with a fair tussle on light tackle, but they are not drag burners at all. As far as line class, 30lb tackle is more than adequate, but due to their rarity, they are likely to be hooked on heavier tackle aimed at thresher sharks and other large landbased quarry.
Slidebaiting is the best option, with most fish coming on floated and suspended baits. From the pier a floated rig is the most likely to hook these fish. Wire should be used, not due to the rays teeth (although they too are formidable) but due to the fact that the angler is far more likely to hook a passing shark than a pelagic ray. These rays are not at all line shy, and once committed to a bait usually will eat that bait for long periods of time before becoming hooked.
Open ocean facing piers and jetties will provide the most opportunities to hook these fish. Places with deep water and dramatic bathymetry are likely to draw them closer to shore than other locations. Southern California is the best bet, as they tend to spend more time in warm water (in excess of 66 degrees).
These are a warm water visitor, and as a result are going to be caught in summer time, if at all.
Thanks for reading! For more information and rigs for targeting these fish please check out our own website at TerraFirmaTackle.com!
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