2018 Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby

Sunday, September 9, saw youth assemble at the Trinidad Pier (in the beautiful redwoods just 24 miles north of Eureka) to participate in the 5th Annual Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers, Pacific Outfitters, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Although the day would turn a little windy and cold as it progressed, both the 36 youth and the total crowd estimated at close to a hundred people agreed it was a fun day at the pier.

Some of the loaner rods

Free loaner rods and reels, free terminal tackle, free bait, free hot dog lunches, raffle prizes, and a winner in each age group helped generate excitement. Of course catching some fish also helps and the fishing was improved from the previous years with quite a few perch caught along with brown rockfish, kelp greenling and two lingcod.

Volunteer John “Grondo” Grondalski

The loaner rods are rigged and ready to go

David Shigamatsu with an undersized lingcod

Crab caught by David Shigamatsu

Ed Roberts IV and Seth Noel

Rex Bertrand and a brown rockfish

Kelp greenling caught by Emma Sobrehad

Warden Agoitia, Patricia Figueroa, Grondo Grondalski and Warden Hampton

David Shigamatsu and his dad with a legal-size lingcod caught on a shinerperch

Due to the wind that was picking up, and the chill that was creeping in, the derby was called a little early which meant time for some hot dogs and the raffle prizes.

Hot dogs, chips and drinks were available for all participants. The chef was CDFW volunteer Patricia Figueroa

Next up was the raffle. Prizes were provided by the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers and Pacific Outfitters.

Dan Troxel (who made and donated fishing rods) on the left and Warden Norris with the tackle box

The age group winners were then announced.

The under-6-year-old winner was Karter Quinn of Trinidad

The 6-year-old winner was Rex Bertrand of Arcata

The 7-year-old winner was Leona Sobrehad of McKinleyville

The 8-year-old winner was Robert Pitts of Eureka

The 9-year-old winner was Jordan Taylor of Fortuna

The 10-year-old winner was Dillon Dirrocco of McKinleyville

The 11-year-old winner was Alise Walker of McKinleyville

The 12-year–old winner was David Shigamatsu of Davis

The 13-year-old winner was Jonathan Pitcher of Arcata

The Grand Champion was David Shigamatsu of Davis

Many thanks to the entire group that once again made this  a fun event for all the participants and their parents!

Back row: Katie Terhaar (CDFW), Ed Roberts IV (CDFW) Dan Troxel (CDFW Volunteer), Patricia Figueroa (CDFW Volunteer), “Grondo” Grondalski (CDFW Volunteer), Grant Roden (Trinidad Rancheria)

Front row: Ed Roberts III (CDFW) and Todd Rowan (Trinidad Rancheria)

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Marin Rod & Gun Club — 30th Annual “Kids Day On The Pier”

August 15, 2018 saw the 30th Annual “Kid’s Day on the Pier” at the Marin Rod & Gun Club on San Quentin Point in San Rafael, California. The event was co-sponsored by UPSAC (United Pier and Shore Anglers of California), PFIC (Pier Fishing In California), and the IGFA (International Game Fish Association).

The day saw an enthusiastic group of 67 youngsters amidst a crowd of 175 people. The weather was great and the kids caught a fine mess of fish, which meant a lot of happy, smiling faces.

Loaner rods and reels were available as well as free bait and assistance when needed. Combined with the fishing was a free hot dog lunch and every participant received a rod and reel from the club.

The United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC) and Pier Fishing In California (PFIC) brought tackle and people to help out while the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) provided certificates for the winners.

Dr. John Evans and his heavy pole for the big ‘uns

Dave DeJong and a California Halibut


52-inch leopard shark caught by David Shigematsu

After the fishing, it was time to retire to the clubhouse for lunch (hot dogs and chips), the award ceremony, and the raffle.

Each individual age group winner received a 1st Place trophy, a beautiful IGFA certificate, and an autographed copy of Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones.

The 5-year-old and under winner: Ryan Radomski   

The 6-year-old winner: Owen Radomski  

The 7-year-old winner: Tyler Green

The 8-year-old winner (tie): Vincent DeJong,

The 8-year-old winner (tie): Logan Jackson

The 8-year-old winner (tie): Lucas Strosahlortega  

  The 9-year-old winner (tie): Parvati Nag

The 9-year-old winner: (tie) Parker Thompson

The 10-year-old winner (tie): Michael Monteiro

The 10-year-old winner (tie): Kody Monteiro

The 11-year-old winner: Kiana Choi

The 12-year-old winner (and overall champion): David Shigematsu

The 14-year-old winner: Dylan Monteiro

The largest fish of the day was a 52-inch leopard shark caught by David Shigematsu and a total of 77 fish were caught by the participants. Included were three leopard sharks, two California halibut, one striped bass, one bat ray and 69 large jacksmelt (12-14 inches).

Raffle Prizes — Every participant received a rod and reel

All agreed that it was another outstanding derby.

Representing the Marin Rod and Gun Club: Chairmen Gary Colmere, Vice-Chairman Roy Jackson, John Evans and upwards of 20 or more club members who performed a plethora of duties—serving as judges on the pier, cleaning and fixing rods and reels for both the derby and the raffle, cooking the hot dog lunch, setting up and cleaning the auditorium and kitchen, and helping announce the results of the raffle. A special thanks goes to Mary Ellen Smith who was busy doing many things—helping at the registration table, helping to tabulate the scorecards, helping with the certificates, and helping to cook the lunch. She stayed very busy!

Representing UPSAC: President Ken Jones, Vice-President Robert Gardner, and Secretary Brian Linebarger.

Representing the Pier Fishing in California (pierfishing.com) website family were the above UPSAC members as well as Melvin Kon (who took the pictures of the award winners and raffle winners), Kris Linebarger, Alex Poon, and David DeJong.

UPSAC Vice-President Robert Gardner

A huge thank you goes to the Marin Gun and Rod Club and the various other organizations and volunteers for putting on this great annual event.


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The “Old” Vallejo Pier — Gone But Not Forgotten

The “Old” Vallejo Pier and the Highway 37 Bridge

This was a pier frequently missed by anglers unaware of its location. It used to sit almost directly underneath the Sears Point/Highway 37 (Napa River) bridge that connects Vallejo to Mare Island and areas to the north. That shouldn’t be surprising since the pier was part of the old drawbridge which once connected the two areas. The pier opened in 1971 and became famous as a producer of large sturgeon. In 1980 an angler, George Gano of Vallejo, hooked and landed an eight-foot-long white sturgeon weighing 194 pounds. This is still the unofficial record for largest fish caught on a Bay Area pier, although there have been unsubstantiated reports of large bat rays nearly matching this weight.

The water here is truly estuarine as the location sits smack dab in the channel connecting the fresh water of the Napa River and the saltwater of San Pablo Bay (which is pushed up the Mare Island Strait by the daily tides). The result is a lessening of the number of species commonly caught by saltwater pier anglers but the pier presented opportunity for excellent striped bass and sturgeon fishing. Around the pier were mud flats and eelgrass that, at low tide, might be exposed. During high tide, flounders would move up into water almost to the foot of the pier. Fishing for the larger species was carried on toward the end of the 1,060 foot-long pier in the deepest water. Here the main problem was very strong currents complicated by strong winds that are common to the area most afternoons. The pier was a popular fishing spot due undoubtedly to the ever present chance for a keeper sturgeon.

Fish caught here were starry flounder, jacksmelt, striped bass, white sturgeon, a few green sturgeon, and occasionally a bat ray or skate. What that meant was that most of the time you would not bring home many fish from a trip to this pier. Sturgeon, flounder, bat ray, and skate tend to be solitary and you were lucky if you caught more than one during a day of fishing. Jacksmelt of course travel in schools; if you were present when the school moved through, and you had the right bait, you could catch a mess of fish. Stripers added one more element, the larger the fish the more solitary they seem to be. At times an angler would catch a large striper, anything over 30 pounds, but those were fairly rare. At times a school of medium size fish would move through or even hang around the area and anglers would catch a number of 5-12 pound fish, but again that was rare. More common, especially September to October, were large schools of small, illegal striped bass, 11 to 14 inches in length, which were too easily caught on light tackle.

Best bait and rigging for the flounder was either pile worms or ghost shrimp followed by grass shrimp. Most baits were placed on a number 4 to 2 size hook on the end of a live bait, sliding bait leader. Easily purchased at most of the local tackle shops, this rigging allowed the flounder to mouth the bait and carry it without hesitation before it was finally swallowed. Generally this rigging worked better than a high/low leader. Flounder are very picky and if they feel any resistance will often drop the bait. Tackle needed only be heavy enough to cast and to handle a sinker heavy enough to hold the line against the strong currents often found here; and it could take four to six ounces of weight.

A similar rigging was often used for sturgeon although wire leader were the norm at the end of the line and bait was grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, or mud shrimp. Anglers also needed to be sure you use a heavy enough outfit—a heavy saltwater rod and reel loaded with at least 30 pound test line. Stripers would also hit this rigging and any of these baits. Another idea was to catch a few bullheads (staghorn sculpin) or shiners, or buy a few live mudsuckers. Often these, as well as frozen anchovies or sardines, worked best for the stripers. In addition, a high-low leader could be effective for the stripers. Finally, anglers occasionally used artificial lures on this pier. When the pier wasn’t crowded, and the wind was blowing toward the new bridge, anglers could cast out around the various bridge supports that were often a good spot for stripers.

61-pound striped bass caught in Vallejo in March 1931

History Note. The town was laid out by M.G. Vallejo and served as capital of the state in 1851 and 1852. The wharf originally located on this site was used from 1892 until the 1920s by the Union Brick and Tile Company. Later, part of that wharf was used by builders who constructed a drawbridge linking the eastern shore of Vallejo with Mare Island. When a new Sears Point Bridge was built in 1971, all but a 1,060-foot section of the drawbridge was demolished, just enough for a fishing pier.

            The old wooden pier suffered fire damage four different times—in 1973, 1983, 1987, and 1994. Each time parts or all of the pier had to be closed but the first three times money was found to repair the pier. Signs said don’t build fires on the pier, but some people never learn. The fire in 1994 finally led to closure, and later demolition, of the pier. The pier, home to a record that can no longer be broken (because of today’s slot/size restrictions on sturgeon) was demolished and no appearance from shore indicates where the pier once stood.


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Oakland’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Pier — Gone But Not Forgotten

For about ten years I lived in the East Bay community of Pinole. During that time I learned to appreciate and respect the town of Oakland, a town that seemed to get little positive publicity (especially in relation to San Francisco, its big sister city across the bay). Oakland was the ugly little sister unworthy of a visit. But I fished this pier on a regular basis from 1991 until 1995 and the scene I saw at the pier and nearby Jack London Square belied, at least in part, the negative image of the city.

The pier was well designed and beautiful to my eyes, offered a wide range of facilities, generally had decent fishing, and was rarely crowded, at least in comparison to other East Bay piers.

The pier was 290 feet long and fairly new, opening in 1983 after conversion of the former Clay Street Pier (which was built back in 1918 (some say 1930). Evidently the conversion wasn’t too successful since the deterioration of the pilings and surface area of the pier led to it being declared structurally unsound” by the Port of Oakland engineers in 1998—when it was closed. Unfortunately, the pier is now history!

Environment: The pier was located two blocks north of Jack London Square, a trendy area of restaurants, hotels and tourist shops. Adjacent to the south side of the pier was the loading platform for the Ohlone Spirit, the Oakland to San Francisco ferry.   On the north side of the pier set the restored presidential yacht USS Potomac, a ship with a somewhat checkered past. During the 1930’s and ‘40s it was the presidential yacht for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and appropriately it made many voyages on the Potomac River in Washington D.C. Some have called it a “Floating White House.” Eventually it was sold to the public and in time—surprise, surprise, it would be seized by the federal authorities as it was bringing drugs into San Francisco Bay.  A home in Oakland would eventually emerge.

The interesting fireboat City of Oakland was anchored just north of the pier.

By 2002 the port had built a new dock for the Potomac (which offers tours) but demolition of the FDR Pier underway and a rebuild never seemed to be given much attention (who needs public piers?).

Water in the area is part of the Inner Harbor area of the Oakland Estuary; across the water is Alameda Island. The water itself gets heavy use, both by industrial and pleasure boat activity.

Pier pilings were wood with little growth on the pilings. The bottom is primarily mud but there is grass, rocks and debris throughout much of the shoreline area. As a rule, water here is calm, but during tidal changes there could be a fairly swift tidal current.

Update—the pier is still history but the adjacent ferry landing has been enlarged and the ferry business seems to be booming. Ferries run to San Francisco (two different sites) through much of the day and now ferries are scheduled to run to many more Bay Area sites including South San Francisco, Oyster Point and even Redwood City. A network of ferries is beginning to replicate what was a common scene prior to the opening of the Bay Bridge in 1936.

Fishing: Most of the year would see catches of small sharks, bat rays (called stingrays by locals) and staghorn sculpin (bullheads). Seasonally, anglers would see jacksmelt, white croaker (kingfish), perch (primarily black perch and pile perch), starry flounder and striped bass.  All too common were the bait-stealing shinerperch.

Bait and season were the keys for the pier. Winter and spring would see some perch and flounder and both would hit on grass shrimp or pile worms. Ghost shrimp could also be deadly for perch and flounder. Summer was the time for white croaker, a few sand sole, and perhaps even a few Pacific tomcod. Spring through fall was the time for the favorite species at the pier—striped bass and .striper time and most of the stripers would be taken on anchovies, sardines, pile worms or grass shrimp. Sharks, rays and skates were most common spring to fall but could be taken year round. All of these fish were caught on or near the bottom. Jacksmelt could be caught year-round using small pieces of pile worms or shrimp and size 8-6 hooks fished near the top of the water.

Although a variety of species wasn’t a strong point for this pier, you might be occasionally surprised, and this, for me, is one of the pleasures of fishing. One mid-October day I had started out fishing in the West Bay, at the Agua Vista Pier in San Francisco. In just a couple of hours of fishing I had caught over a dozen different varieties of fish. Included were two yellowfin gobies (Acanthogobius flavimanus), each about 8 inches long. Nothing too amazing about that except that I had fished Bay Area piers for over twenty-five years and never caught that type of fish before! Now I had caught two. But, since none of the fish were very big, I decided to move.

Shortly thereafter I was at this pier and about ten minutes later I had a strike. Upon pulling in the line I discovered I had two more yellowfin gobies. These were slightly larger fish, being nearly 10 inches in length, but other than size they were identical fish. In twenty-five years of fishing the bay, no yellowfin goby, then four on one day, two on one cast, and at two different piers on opposite sides of the bay. Why did I catch them that day? Was there a population explosion of the mighty yellowfin gobies? Was it just blind luck? Who knows? As said, the unpredictability of saltwater fishing is one of the attractions for me.

That same day also saw me catch a small chameleon goby at the pier. Both that fish and the yellowfin gobies are immigrants from Asian waters that apparently were brought to Bay Area waters in the ballasts of ships. Many marine scientists are worried that these fish may adversely impact the native species but information so far is inconclusive.

 History Note. The ferries that dock next to the pier, are carrying on a long-time tradition. The first recorded ferry operation between San Francisco and the “eastern shore” (Oakland wasn’t incorporated until 1854) was begun near this area in 1850 by a Captain Thomas Gray. Captain Gray and his small ship, the Kangaroo, sailed up San Antonio Creek (later called Oakland Creek and today called the Oakland Estuary), crossed the dangerous sand bar, and entered into the bay. This “Creek Route” became the favorite route during the early years of ferry service, especially after 1859 when the infamous sandbar at the entrance to the estuary was removed. The sandbar had allowed only a 16-inch clearance at high tide and had caused many a ship to run aground (resulting in crew and passengers being forced to wade ashore).

In 1851 a ferry franchise operated by Charles Minturn began to service the area and then, in 1853, Horace Carpentier and Minturn gained a twenty-year monopoly for ferry service from Oakland to San Francisco. Their boats would sail from the wharf that Carpenter had recently completed at the foot of Broadway (today’s Jack London Square). The Broadway Wharf would continue to be the main departure point for the citizens of Oakland until 1863 when a steam train was installed along Seventh Street to take passengers down to the new ferry landing at Oakland Point. Ferry service continued from the wharf but at a much less frantic pace; eventually the Central Pacific consolidated and began to monopolize most of the local ferry lines.

Ferries themselves would be a colorful part of the bay’s transportation system until the 1930s and many of them, at least during the first few years, were headquartered in this area. Boats like the Erastus Corning, the Clinton, the Confidence, the Enterprise, the Hector, the Red Jacket, the Jenny Lind, the Sophia McLean, the Kate Hayes, the Contra Costa, and the Alameda, would sail these waters and provide a romantic way to travel still recalled fondly these many years later. For a few years there was even a sternwheel steamer on the “Creek Route.” The Chin-du-Wan attracted passengers with a ten-cent fare and calliope music and contested (somewhat violently in the 1870s) the ferry monopoly of the Central Pacific.

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Everything you need to know about Bat Rays/Sting Rays

From an old thread on the Pier Fishing In California Message Board

Bat Ray caught at the Morro Bay North T-Pier

Date; October 20, 1999
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Sam
Subject: Dangeous Stingray

I just found text below on the Net when I was trying to learn about stingray. The tail of the stingray sounded deadly, going near one doesn’t seem like a wise thing to do. Does swing its tail around like a creature from out of space? How do you make sure the tail doesn’t strike you? How do you distinguish it from the Bat Ray? Some detail information would be appreciated. Sam

Phylum Chordata, Class Chondrichthyes. These possess a serrated bony spine at the base of the dorsal surface of the tail. An integumentary sheath discharges venom when ruptured. Most injuries occur when the ray is stepped on, the tail is thrust upward and forward and fired into the foot or leg. The venom is thermolabile (deactivated with heat) and induces severe vasoconstriction.
Symptoms: Intense pain is felt at the site; there is local ischemia (loss of blood supply), and edema. Edges are jagged, may contain pieces of spine and secondary infection is common. Systemic effects include salivation, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, hypotension (low blood pressure), and cardiovascular collapse.
Treatment: Irrigate and remove remaining spine. Immerse in hot (50 C) water until pain subsides. Give local or systemic pain relief. Cleanse, debride and suture the wound. Give tetanus protection, infection prophylaxis and monitor / support cardio-respiratory system as indicated.

Posted by Ken Jones

I’ve fished from California piers for nearly 40 years, caught hundreds of sting rays/and bat rays and never been stung. (1) Learn to identify your fish. Buy my book or another book that contains pictures and read the descriptions. (2) Be patient and careful when handling the rays. (3) I generally grasp the tail of a sting ray with a pair of needlenose pliers and then remove the hooks before letting the fish go.

Posted by Mike Kai

It seems that people are afraid of stingrays as they are sharks. For a bat ray/sting ray to sting you, its tail must move vertically, exposing the stinger. This usually only happens when someone steps on a ray, especially when wading at the beach. However, to be stung on pier is pretty rare. I think it is STUPID and a WASTE for someone to cut off a bat ray’s stinger, it increases your chance of being stung, and it does great harm to the fish. I seriously doubt that the stinger will grow back in 6-8 weeks, if ever. This is the fact that the stinger is made of cartilage, the same material its wings are made of, which don’t grow back. This just makes me mad, it reminds me of going to the pier and watching retards step on short halibut or rays, then throw the dead fish back!

Round Stingray caught at the Coronado Ferry Landing Pier

Posted by tony

Last year at Bakers beach, my uncle caught a small stingray, around 20lb.’s. I was helping him take out the hook, I thought I was stepping on the tail, but the tail managed to squirm out from under my leg, My foot was between the part that connects the tail to the body, and the left wing. I was wearing tuff shoes, and it STUNG me; hurt like a .B. The dagger went through my shoe, and scraped on my bone; it electrocuted me! I felt the electricity, and it injected venom through my leg. It hurt for a few hours; still have the triangular scar on my foot and, hasn’t changed since the day it happened. It REALLY SUCKED

Posted by goatfish

Just try a little caution and common sense…A stingray can sting without warning, and it doesn’t have to be a vertical whip of the tail. Personally, I like to turn them over on their backs while I’m removing a hook, etc. but I try to stay away from getting near the tail at all. If you cut off the stinger, it WILL grow back, much like your fingernails will grow back when you cut them. More often than not, people get stung by rays because they are not paying attention, or are intrigued by the stinger and want to touch it. I’ve yet to catch a ray where the stinger was not exposed, and they WILL sting you if given the opportunity. I’ve seen people get stung, and it is not a pretty sight. Just remember to be alert and use common sense.

Posted by Anthony

Anyone ever thought about cutting the line and leaving the hook? They will rust out quicker than the stinger will come back.

Posted by Ken Jones

I actually learned about the removal of the spine and its ability to grow back from visits to the Monterey Aquarium and Chula Vista Nature Center. Both places have petting pools with bat rays in them and allow kids to pet the bat rays. After talking to people at both places I discovered that they clip off the stinger so that the bat rays cannot sting the children. Apparently it takes 4-6 weeks for the spines to grow back because they have to do this little operation on a regular basis to prevent the spines from becoming dangerous. By the way, the bat rays, minus their stingers, are about the friendliest fish you will see.

Posted by Kanamit

Ken, You are correct – I learned this too at the aquarium. The problem is sometimes that the Barnies on the pier cut off the entire tail of the ray. If this is done I don’t believe the tail and stinger can grow back. I’ve actually seen idiots cut off the tail and miss the stinger entirely – it’s too bad these retards didn’t get stung after thinking they cut off the stinger. I feel it is totally irresponsible to fish for a species of fish without learning a little about it first. It is fine to snip off the stinger but leave the tail alone! I have caught hundreds of rays and although I used to cut the stingers off I don’t really bother anymore. If you are careful I don’t believe it’s necessary.

Bat Ray caught at the Fortman Marina in Alameda

Date: June 28, 2000
To: PFIC Message Bard
From: moe
Subject: SF Bay — Bat Ray vs. Sting Ray

Had a few q’s regarding the bay rays:
1: What’s the diff. b/w bat rays and sting rays, and how can I tell?
2: What do you do when you catch one, use a gaff or net, and if you gaff it…where on the body should I do that if I will be taking the critter home?
3: Once caught, is there anything I should do to ensure a good meal eg. bleeding, or kill them somehow?
4: Yesterday I caught something that looked like a manta ray actually,,, I didn’t get a good look at it because as I was pulling it up on the pier, it tore 20# test….could have been a halibut…
5: Which ones should I keep to take home and eat…sting vs bat ray; big one vs. small one…. and I know the wings are the good part… what about the body or tail? any help will be appreciated, dr.moe

Posted by Nate D

Moe-Bat rays have very large heads, ear holes (I use these to grab them when I pitch them back in the water), and are brownish-black on top and white on their bellies. I have never caught an actual stingray in the S.F. Bay (where I fish) but I have caught a thornback ray or two. When you get a bat ray out of the water, they will huff and snort quite a bit. They have big cow-like eyes. Funny thing about a bat ray, they’ve got black eyes, lifeless eyes like a doll’s eyes.
With large fish caught in bay waters, the sooner you clean the fish the better. This immediately rids the fish of toxins and parasites in the innards.
I have either hoisted it up by the ear holes or used a hoop net to bring it up from the pier. I don’t use gaffs, at all.
I doubt you caught a manta ray, they are off shore species and usually do not eat large baits.
A good basic rule to follow is the larger the fish, the longer it has been swimming in the water, and if that water is subject to pollution, therefore the longer it has been absorbing said pollution. I personally don’t keep striped bass over 28 inches or so, for an example. Remember that bat rays have no bones, just cartilage and fat, in addition to muscle. A flat piece of cartilage runs straight through the middle of the wing, and if you fillet the meat on either side of this, you should get four nice fillets. I personally would not eat a ray when there are perch, bass, or sturgeon to be caught, but many people do eat them. If the flesh smells ammonia like, soak the fillets in salted milk for 24 hours. Also, Ken Jones knows quite a bit about the preparation of bat rays. Give ‘Em Hell, Nate D

Posted by moe

Thanx for the reply Nate… are the smaller rays better eating than the bigger ones….maybe they would have less pollution in them?

Posted by Ken Jones

One and The Same. Probably 90% or more of the anglers around San Francisco Bay call bat rays sting rays and yes, they do indeed have a stinger/spine by their tail.
Rarely if ever would you catch a round stingray, diamond stingray or butterfly ray this far north. And manta rays are creatures more common to Baja waters — indeed they’re even very rare to southern California.
As for their edibility, they’re good. They are a little bit of a pain to clean; you need a strong and sharp knife. However, the bone-free meat has an interesting taste and texture.
Although I used to always use a pier gaff (at least on the higher piers), a net is better. A net allows you to release unharmed the smaller fish—and the larger fish if so inclined. A ray brought up from the depths by way of a pier gaff is probably not going to survive. To be honest though, many anglers, including myself, today release most of the bat rays we catch. They’re great fun to catch and deserve to fight another day. But that is a personal decision.

Posted by moe

Struck out twice vs. huge rays; guys I need some help. I have struck out two nights in a row on the ol’ mighty bay ray…. One took me out like 150 yards, then came back straight at me, by the time I caught up with him he was already under the pier, getting himself ready to wrap me around one of the posts… and as you figured, indeed he wrapped me around not once but several times, and the 30 pound shock leader I had broke!!… You gotta love it!! This guy must have been huge…I felt as if my 12’ surf rod was going to snap in half!!
The other one, I didn’t even get the chance to adjust my drag…. he took the bait…. then just took off…. I set the hook but he just kept running, till me line snapped again…. twice in the same night…Don’t know what the second one was…. maybe a shark or a ray? I need some help on the issue…. any suggestions for next time I go out? thanx

Posted by Leapin Bass

1) Use a conventional reel instead of a spinning reel. A high speed reel will help your first problem although they do that sometimes and there’s nothing you can do about – part of fishing from a pier. I’ve never caught a yellowtail from a pier and the pilings are the reason why.
2) Use a 7 or 8 ft. rod rated for 20 – 40 lb. test (or somewhere in bewtween) designed for use with a conventional reel. I’ve seen so many people loose rays because they simple can’t control them with those long surf rods.
It’s much easier to fight large fish on conventional gear. You use your bicep instead of your wrist and forearm. The drags are usually better and even if they’re not you can always loosen it a bit and control it with your thumb (be careful not to burn your skin off). You can set the alarm instead of loosening the drag (which will eliminate the second problem you had). I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I can cast further with my 7 ft. Musky rod and Daiwa SL30SH with 20 lb. test further than anyone I’ve ever seen on Goleta pier with one of the ridiculously long surf rods and spinning reels. Anyone can do it with a little practice.
I have caught countless large (up to 56 inch wingspan) rays on medium casting rods and I’ve never used anything more than 30 lb. test. These days I stick to 15 and 20 (25 if a friend who doesn’t fish much is with me – on his/her rod).
With a decent rod and reel and a few rays under your belt you can easily handle most of them on lighter tackle – not to mention it’s much more fun and challenging.

Posted by Monkfish

Funny thing about a bat ray….. they’ve got black eyes, lifeless eyes like a doll’s eyes…. Hey Nate D….sure your name isn’t really “Quint?” Just when you thought it was safe to fish the piers again.

Date: October 1, 2000
To: PFIC Message Board
From: mobilesuit

I heard that when you catch a ray, you are supposed to cut the stinger off. If this is true, how are you supposed to do it? So I cut the whole tail off or just some part of it? Thanks.

Posted by Iso Lunkers

No… No cutting anything off. First of all, you need to make sure it is a “sting ray” and not something that has no stinger in the first place. Then, you want to bring a towel to grab its tail so you do not get slapped with it, plus it is one of the only ways to hold them when throwing them back in and unhooking them. I have seen people cut the tail off and that is just plain cruel. I hope this helps.

Posted by mobilesuit

Thanks for the feedback. So basically you don’t do anything to it right? k. Oh and um, when you do hold the ray, where do you hold the tail with the towel? And how thick should the towel be? It just seems like I can still get stung, even with a towel. Well, thanks again for the feedback. Good fishing.

Posted by Black Marlin

Mobile-I have landed well over 500 bat rays and skates since I started fishing for them at 12 years old. I used to cut off the stinger from rays when I was young if it was really big, as the stingers reflected the overall size of the ray. I kept them in my tackle box and they served as a sort of status symbol in the pecking order that existed in the small culture of ray fishermen in my town (Sausalito, CA). Now, I still fish for and catch many rays each year but as a wiser, more cultured man I’ve dropped the stinger cutting and replaced it with a cheap camera and tape measure. I think if you are going to catch and release any fish, it must be returned to the water as it came out, minus the hook in it’s mouth. No exceptions. Best of luck. Give ‘Em Hell,, Black Marlin

Posted by Leapin Bass

Although it is not necessary, cutting off the stinger is okay if you really feel you need to because it will grow back relatively quickly (they do this in aquarium touch tanks like the one at the Monterey Bay Aquarium). Definitely do not cut off it’s tail because then it’s stinger (which is it’s only method of defense) can not grow back. It also helps to know where the stinger is – at the base of the tail. Some people think it’s on the tip of the tail.
One time at Goleta I saw some guy who was fishing with a bunch of rods, keeping illegal-sized bocaccio and using them for bait. He caught a small bat ray, cut the tail off thinking he was safe and then got nailed by it’s stinger as he threw it back (oh yeah I forgot to mention that the jerk gaffed it to bring it in – then released it!). Anyway, him and his buddy left immediately (I assume to a doctor or hospital) which gave me his spot on the end of the pier.
I’ve seen a few people cut only the tails off and not the stingers but this was the first guy I saw get nailed. I felt it was justice for all the other crap he was doing illegally.

Posted by Ken Jones

If you are in a group it is often possible to have one person hold the tail (with a towel) while you remove the hook; then let the stingray go. However, I am often alone and at times it may be hard to remove the hook in a safe manner, especially if the fish is hooked deep. What I do then is to grasp the tail with needlenose pliers and cut off the stinger (spine). The ray is then safe to handle and the stinger will grow back in approximately 4 weeks time. DO NOT cut off the entire tail.

Posted by readership

Is there a trick to bringing up big fish (such as stingrays) when you are fishing alone? I was at Pacifica Pier the other night and landed a fatty smooth hound shark. Luckily there were some crabbers to help me out, whom I gave the catch too. otherwise, winds blowing, flashlights barely shining, eyes straining, whew…fish on!

Posted by Leapin Bass

Walk it to the beach if you have a fishing license. Otherwise – good luck!

Posted by mobilesuit

What are the chances of getting stung? I was wondering what were the chances of getting stung by a stingray you just caught. (When you’re shore fishing that is). I don’t know if you’re supposed to but I always go into the water about knee or thigh deep to cast, because I have a short rod and am also not the best caster. Thanks for the help. gl fishing

Posted by Leapin Bass

According to the guys in Grand Cayman stingrays do not sting when they are swimming around – only when they are sitting on the bottom. When you wade in the ocean don’t take steps – instead shuffle your feet which will scare the stingray and cause it to move.

Posted by mobilesuit

Stingray on its back. If a stingray is on its back, will it not be able to sting you? Heheh just a thought from an earlier question. Thanks for your time. gl fishin

Posted by Red Fish

A Serious Question, Right? A good one too. Many anglers that catch stingrays (O.K., proper name Bat Ray’s Ken!) for the first time don’t have a clue how to properly un-hook them or of the potential danger of being stung. The first time I caught one, about age 14, I was clueless. Two guys that called themselves helping me, cut the poor ray’s tail off, then I threw him back. They told me, “oh, he will grow another one just like a lizard.” I don’t know that to be a fact, but it is senseless to cut off a ray’s tail and I have never done it on the dozens of ray’s I have released over the years. O.K., yeah, I believe turning a ray over GENTLY on his back is the best way of un-hooking it. This way the ray’s stinger in face down. If you look at a ray’s tail, there is only one small stinger located at the front of tail anyway very similar to a catfish’s spines on its head.
So, after that long explanation, the answer to your question is No. A stingray will not be able to sting you on its back (it would be very difficult to do so.) Anyway, if it’s on its back the hook is in its mouth, right? O.K. you shouldn’t be standing near its butt when you’re taking out the hook! Hold the ray’s tail down with your foot if you’re really worried about being stung.
Oh-lastly, ever so important. When you go to release this puppy, hold it near the head (mouth) with the tail away from you when you go to throw him back!!!! Hope this helps.
I am curious to know if anyone on this board has ever been stung by a ray? Please share your story with us.

Posted by ikiller

I was stung once. My stinging story: I was fishing on either McNears Pier or Paradise Pier, I can’t quite remember. Well I caught a rather small ray with probably a foot and a half wingspan. I wasn’t very familiar with the handling techniques since I had just started saltwater fishing. I was hauling it up by the fishing line, and I guess I was too close to the railing. Somehow it whipped its rear end through the railing and stung me in the side of my left calf. I did not notice that I was stung for a few minutes while I was dealing with the fish. The stinger (or whatever you would call it) went through my jeans and at least a half-inch into my skin. It wasn’t that painful of a wound. It was kind of a mild cold shooting pain that persisted for a few days.
When I catch a ray on the beach here is my technique: Drag him up out of the water onto the beach (not too far from the waters edge). Grab it by the front edge of a wing and flip it over. Remove the hook, stand on the tail if necessary. After the hook has been removed, put a hand under the leading edge of each wing and flip the whole thing over head over tail. If you have done this technique correctly (and you were close enough to the water) you will have turned the ray over and flung him back into the surf.

Posted by tony

I have been stung by a ray once. I was out at Baker’s Beach a few years back fishing for some stripers, and my uncle landed a small ray, maybe 2 feet in diameter. We flipped it on it’s back, and started to take out the hook, I was wearing some Nike sneakers with flat bottom soles. I pressed the tail down into the sand to stop it from whipping back and forth as I held on to the line so my uncle could take out the hook.
Some how, the ray managed to free its tail and stab my ankle with it’s dagger. It went through my shoe, my sock, through my skin, and it did hit the bone in my ankle. There I felt a mild electric current flow through my leg as it throbbed while the blood oozed out. It hurt like a b!tch. I screamed and yelled as I tried to hold back from the pain. Basically, it sucked, the scar hasn’t gone away, and the wound looks the same as if it were the day when it happened. tony

Posted by Black Marlin

Mobile-One thing people are omitting when talking about getting stung by rays is the ray’s tail itself. On a mature ray (40# and up) the tail is like a bullwhip, and the ray can use it as such. I have been thrashed by a ray’s tail a couple of times and it drew blood and left welts both times. Either use a glove and hold the tail or cover it with a towel and hold it down with your foot. I have landed and released well over 500 rays in my years and the best way to remove a hook is with the ray on it’s back holding down the tail with your foot. Happy fishing!!!! Black Marlin

Posted by papa

I use this technique of using a towel on the tail also. When I throw the ray back I usually pick it up with my thumb and index finger in what I think are the gills on top of the head. Is this a good way to handle a ray. Its tail can not reach up to my arm and I always hold it away from my body. Just curious.

Date: September 7, 2001
To: PFIC Message Board
From: neptune 1234
Subject: bat ray stingers?

Hey. do bat rays actually sting with their “stinger?” I know what they look like and I have a few small ones. Kinda like a little knife in a sheathe at the base of the tail. Really sharp and barbed. Could cause some serious lacerations. But does a live stingray posses venom or a painful fluid besides that? Not that I plan on finding out the hard way anytime soon. Anyone know anything about this?

Posted by Leapin Bass

Do not find out! They do sting with their stinger and it SUCKS! I don’t think what stung me was a bat ray. Since it was so shallow I believe it was a round stringray but I’m not sure since I didn’t see it. In either case it was probably the worse pain I’ve ever felt (and I’ve been through some pain!). It was two weeks ago and the area around the puncture is still slightly swollen and sore.

Posted by Surfan

Leapin Bass would know!

Date: May 3, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: pescador5312
Subject: Pier nets?

Man I need a net for bat rays. I looked all over the place. Fact is they don’t make those landing nets anymore. At least that’s what I’ve been told by the tackle shops in SD. I mean, if you just want something to bring up a bass or a barely legal halie with then a crab net should do. But for bat rays I had to go and buy a nylon tailgate net for a truck. I attached some rods to the ends to keep them open and tied about 25ft of line to each end. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to use it yet but I think it will do fine. But just for the big fish. I’ll probably post more about it if I ever get to use it and it works. But hey, if you’re looking for something of the same nature and you find one, let me know!
don’t bother me… I’m fishin. <*)))>=<| pescador5312

Posted by PierHead

Good idea! And portable too – you just roll it up. I got several questions:
1. How big a ray can be pulled up by net? Are their special techniques when hauling up a load like some of Stan’s beasts?
2. How did you tie off the 2 lines to the net – I could see the net revolving (horizontally) and tipping the fish out. Did you string it up like a hammock?
3. Will the rules inhibit the cutting off of the ray’s stinger? How does everyone feel about that?
Tight Lines! PierHead

Posted by pescador5312

1. I don’t know how big a ray can be hauled up since I haven’t gotten the opportunity to use it yet. But it is very portable and saves a lot of space.
2. Yes it is strung up like a hammock. My plan (for when I do hook up) is to have two people ready with each rope (whereas I can be one of them). I just guide the monster into the net kinda like a trout cradle net. Then bring both of the ropes together to haul the fish up. It should be in the position where the wings will just be bent upward when the net is closed so the tail doesn’t get caught in the holes. It just hangs off the side.
3. I’m not going to make it to the derby. Wish I could so I can’t answer that. But I myself don’t like to take the stinger off regardless of whether or not I feel I might be in danger by leaving it on.

Posted by Songslinger

I Leave The Stingers On. I don’t see the point of returning a fish to the water without its natural defense system intact. But others like to carve out stingers for their collection and the stingers will grow back. So I guess it’s personal choice. If the issue is safe handling, then you really don’t need to remove the stingers so much as keep alert. Pretty obvious, in my opinion, where the sharp end is; you just have to avoid it. A good landing net is preferable. A crab ring is best for piers. The less damage you do to these creatures, the better. I tend to cut the hook with a wire cutter if it means the difference between the creature’s comfort and my tackle. Also, and I’m not signaling anyone out here, I don’t care about taking pictures and rarely pull my fish onto the bank.

Posted by boomer334

Leave the stinger

Posted by Sinker

I will hold its tail while you remove the hook. The problem I have is when lifting the dog gone beasts up over the railing is when it gets a little scary. I have been hit twice that way but never while removing hooks. It does hurt like hell. I am allergic to bees and have to carry an Epi Kit with me but the Bat Ray sting has never caused me to go into shock. These new Kits are nice they auto-inject rather than the ole syringe “Get Bent” “Sinker”

Bat Ray at the Elephant Rock Pier in Tiburon, 2003

Posted by Ken Jones

Heck, you were willing to grab hold of those scorpionfish even though they were new to you. As I recall one ALMOST stuck you. Discretion sometimes trumps courage.

Date: October 21, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: RaySniper
Subject: Cutting off a Bay Ray’s Stinger?

The other night I caught a Bat Ray that no longer had its stinger. From the looks of the wound/scar, it looked like somebody had cut the stinger off with a blade then threw the Ray back in the water. I guess the question to ask is why somebody would decide to catch the ray, cut off its stinger, then throw it back? Does the stinger have some sort of use for humans of which I am not aware, or was this just a pointless act of cruelty?

Posted by Songslinger

Some people like to keep stingers as trophies. I’m told the rays grow them back eventually. Even so, and this is my personal taste, I would prefer not to release anything shorn of its natural defenses.

Posted by Mike. C

Agree with Slinger on sending the ray back without its means of defense. That thing evolved to be there for a reason and we shouldn’t screw with it. But as far as a random act of cruelty, I wouldn’t go so far to say. The folks at the aquarium say that it causes no pain to the rays when they cut the stinger and they do grow back.

Posted by neptune1234

I always keep the stingers. Have a pretty good collection going too. Except I don’t cut them off. If you grab it at the base with a pair of needlenose pliers and lean it backwards they pop right off. NO sweat. Only a couple second operation. NO real harm to the ray. They’re mainly for use when they are babies anyway. I count them as trophies and put them on my weird fish stuff shelf. Always a nice addition. I suppose you could make earrings out of them.

Posted by RaySniper

Interesting…thanks for the info. I guess that it’s just something that I personally wouldn’t want to do…I guess that I am just too much of a softy. I suppose that there isn’t much of a problem as long as taking off the stinger isn’t causing the Rays any excessive harm…

Posted by baitfish

It is supposed to be like clipping a fingernail, they are designed to break off, but it does leave the ray defenseless. Adam

Posted by tomaurand

If it bleeds, infection can set and kill the ray! Really no reason to cut the stinger. Has anybody on this board ever been stung by a ray???? Like being stuck by a catfish, it was probably the not the rays (or catfishes) fault.

Posted by baitfish

I have never cut them before, has anyone had them bleed from cutting them? However the size of the are of possible infection would be about the same size as the hole left by the hook. The material of the stinger is made of Keratin, the same material as your fingernail. If you were to clip it, I don’t see how it would bleed, but the popping method that neptune describes is different. You don’t really need to cut them off, if the ray is flipped onto it’s back, it presents little danger. Even then, keep your wits about you and safely return the ray to the water. Adam

Posted by neptune1234

The way I do it only takes a sec. Doesn’t leave any wounds. Just pops right off. Grab it near the base and bend it backwards. It’s almost surgical the way I do it. No harm done. I have yet to recatch an already de-stingered ray but I’M sure I will. The Monterey Bay Aquarium told me they grow back.

Posted by Leapin Bass

Yep… Last year while surf fishing. First – it is NOTHING like being stung by a catfish. I have lived through some pretty painful stuff (like my top lip being ripped in half-motorcycle accident) and I must say that the ray sting is at the top of the PAIN list. That freakin’ hurt more than I thought anything could hurt. I was doing Lamaz breathing on the way to the hospital. I don’t recommend it unless you like intense pain.
As for cutting the stingers off I’ve done it a few times when I was younger. There’s really no need to though. It does leave the ray defenseless until it grows back (if you cut it off correctly). The sad thing is that I’ve seen people cut the entire tail off – that sucks!

Posted by Red Fish

Couldn’t be like getting stung by a catfish I got stuck by a catfish when cleaning one as a kid and got part of the (stinger) lodged under the skin in my right index finger. It was similar to getting a splinter. Now I have never gotten stung by a bat ray but from what others have described that have been stung it sounds far worse than any catfish cut.

Posted by sharkshooter

Can you only get “stung” if the ray jabs you with the sharp end of the stinger, or is the whole thing dangerous? I’ve never gotten close enough to the business end to find out personally, nor do I care to. I always just flip them on their backs, pop the hook out, and scoot them back into the water to fight another day. but since some of you have already been stung, I may as well learn from it.

Posted by Ken Jones

In the past…I have recommended cutting off the stingers (not the tail) if anglers were concerned about handling the rays (for fear of getting stuck). I would much rather have the stinger cut off and see anglers handle the ray in a gentle manner than having it knocked around. However, I believe experienced anglers should be able to handle the rays safely without needing to cut the stinger off. As for harm to the fish, I have been told by several people who should know that there is no harm to the rays. The stingers are routinely cut off of the bat rays at the petting ponds at several aquariums. They grow back in about a month and are then cut off again. Sort of like cutting your hair. That way these creatures can be petted by our youngsters with little concern as to danger. The petting ponds are great, especially at MBA

Bat Ray caught at the 2007 Mud Marlin Derby at Berkeley Pier

Posted by Red Fish

Monterey Bay Aquarium. I think that visiting an aquarium should be a requirement for all novice saltwater anglers along with study regs prior to a license issue. I think it would avoid a great deal of the nonsense killing of sharks and rays by the uninformed.

Posted by Songslinger

The petting ponds are great, especially at MBA. So true. And a visit to the kelp forest exhibit is worth the price of admission.

Posted by gyozadude

That’s some awesome engineering. That tidal tank with the kelp forest rises and falls due to a pump that resembles an oil well pump. Very cool stuff at Monterey. Maybe we should do a PFIC outing there.

Posted by fishnchips

They can release the stinger during a fight (don’t even know if they grow back), but I can see some a*@hole doing that to render him defenseless to all of the other predators. Too bad for the bat, he’s probably not gonna live much longer. It’s lucky not to die from being cut up. People will often do that to crabs, but isn’t that more cruel, than just refusing to release the animal back into the water? Eat the mother up if you don’t want to run into it again! Survival of the fittest right?… not him now.. what a pity. Cut dudes hands off at the wrist and watch him get into a brawl…. not doin’ too good I bet….same idea! Sorry just rambling, I hate to hear of people being cruel to animals because of boredom!…. that’s why they call it fishin’ not catchin’…. good ol’ fishnchips!

Posted by gyozadude

Another source of damage… is getting cut up during the fight through entanglement. I used to fish braid for bat rays up through mid summer this year. But I started noticing the bright red lines where the braid had tangled with the ray and damaged the outside skin. In fact, some cuts were quite deep, and that really puts the ray at risk of infection or parasites. So I’ve switched back to 25-lb mono and thicker. It’s less likely to cut than the much thinner braid. While it’s stretches more and is quite thick, I think it’s still beneficial to stick with mono in this case. Of course, mono is also cheaper.

Posted by fishnchips

Good to know, didn’t think of that, especially dealing with bats! Thanks for the tip!
….that’s why they call it fishin’ not catchin’….good ol’ fishnchips!

Date: July 21, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: batman
Subject: All those interested in BAT RAY Stings

Is it true that you can put vinegar or if it really hurts and you can’t wait that you can pee on a bat ray sting or is that jelly fish? I don’t want to pee on my self for the wrong kind of sting. Batman

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

Any kind of sting… you want to pour hot water (hotter the better) on it. This will break up the toxins and ease the pain. This is why they say to pee on it because fresh urine is very warm (no I’ve never been peed on). Breaking down the toxins will also lessen the chances of any delayed effects of it.

Posted by OB Pier Rat

And that works! I know first hand-I got whacked by a stingray just a month or two ago, followed your instructions and the pain was gone in about an hour…

Posted by Anotherbite

On the Gulf Coast, the treatment I have know my entire life for jellyfish stings is rubbing dry meat tenderizer on the affected area. It always worked pretty well when I tried it. Has anyone else heard of this method, and if so, would it work on the sting of a ray?

Posted by baitfish

From what I have read the poison in stingrays is protein based, so the hot water actually cooks the poison, and neutralizes it. As for urine, I was under the impression that it was the ammonia in Urine that made it effective, anybody have anything on this? Adam

Date: June 14, 2004
To: PFIC Message Board
From: RaidersFan1
Subject: Best way to pick up a Bat Ray or…..

A Shovelnose Skate? I’ve seen guys pick them by sticking their fingers into their eyes but this just doesn’t seem humane to me. Do they have teeth or would you recommend sticking your fingers into its mouth to hoist them up to get them over the railing? Any help would be a great education for me… Thanks in advance!! Mike RaidersFan1

Posted by pescare

Here’s a past tutorial from Gdude. — Hoisting rays by the mouth

Posted by gyozadude on March 4, 2003

I’ve never been bitten while hoisting a bat ray by its mouth. And while I’ve had a few rays try to chomp down on my hand, they don’t have teeth and it has never hurt. I only theorize that with all four fingers in their mouth, they really can’t chomp down effectively, and once you’ve got them in the air with all their body weight hanging, they really can’t do jack squat. So I’m just wondering if I’ve just been lucky, or if lifting by the mouth really is the proper hold. I have read that they can crush mussels, clams, and other mollusks so use the hand hold at your own risk.
I’ve seen people lift rays using a net, or by two hands, one in each nostril. But both ways can cause lacerations, especially on the big rays. Plus, it’s messy. I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten bat ray snot on your hands. The stuff is really viscous and it stinks. Not that I really mind while fishing, but if you’ve gotta go home and hug your babies, this ain’t exactly stuff the spouse would approve of getting all over the kids. I’ve wiped my hands off on dry rags and then put them through the wash twice with hot water and extra detergent and still, the slime isn’t completely dissolved. So I really like the mouth hold because it’s a lot cleaner.

Technique is pretty easy. With palm facing up, just reach down under and slip your hand into the mouth and curl your fingers up. You should feel the tips of your fingers curl in and stop against the roof of the mouth. Then hoist quickly, and you’ve got it.

Posted by newgen

Wow what a picture! I think that I will use that hold on them, it seems more natural, and less harmful to their bodies than any other hold.

Posted by prometheus

By the mouth is the only effective way to pick up big rays with one hand since their nostrils are too far apart. Watch out for your hook though!

Bat Ray caught at the Mud Marlin Derby at Berkeley Pier in 2015

Posted by pEsCaDoR619

I wouldn’t try it on a big shovelnose. I did that with a 4-footer once and got the chomping of a lifetime. No teeth, just sandpaper-like cartilage for lips. But that sucker had some power in them jaws. I hurt for a good couple hours.

Posted by gyozadude

Spent four years washing dishes. LOL! One way to toughen up the hands is to wash dishes. I did that for four years during high school and early college and grew some thick skin! LOL! Seriously, if you’re afraid of the chomp, you can get some leather gardening gloves from Home Depot for a buck and that really protects the fingers. The key trick is assertiveness. You don’t want to second guess the ray and wonder if he’s gonna bite you. You just gotta stick your hand in there and grab it firm and hoist. If you dally too long, the ray might get the idea that it’s got “finger food” in its mouth and chomp down or thrash. I don’t think the chomp is all that heavy. The ray has mostly smooth plates inside its mouth and a couple of rows of ridges for teeth. If it chomps down, the ridges really can’t cut you, but if the ray flaps around and you loosen your grip, that’s where the ridges might slip and pinch you in the knuckles. So the key is to assert yourself, be quick, and be firm. Once hoisted, it’s like a bass with a hyper-extended lower jaw – pretty much paralyzed and cooperative

Posted by sharkshooter

Yeah – I’m familiar with the slime. Part of the reason I’m thinking about picking them up by the mouth, besides not wanting to damage them. pescador’s post makes me think twice about it, though…

Posted by prometheus

He’s just warning you not to try it with any shovelnose sharks, or skates for that matter. They both have teeth.

Posted by sharkshooter

Hmmm… I thought he was saying it was the power of the bite, and not the sandpaper lips that hurt. I guess I’ll try it with a glove first, and check for bite marks. Or I’ll just have raysniper do it first. He’ll do anything this board tells him to do.

Posted by lucy

Based on pics I’ve seen of the construction of a bat ray’s mouth, I believe you’re actually picking them up by what would, on a human, be the upper lip. The “plates” they use to crush oyster and other shells are actually farther inside the mouth, and unless you stick your fingers in there, you’re in no danger of being hurt because they can’t “chomp” with their lips.
I could be wrong about this, so don’t anybody rely on this—and if you do, don’t blame me if you lose some fingers.

Bat Ray logo by Lucy Phillips, 2004

Posted by andthelinegoeszziipp

Watch the stinger on the real small rays while gripping them by the mouths. They can actually curl their lower bodies and sting like a scorpions tail.

Date: March 14, 2005
TO: PFIC Message Board
From: Ken Jones
Subject: Seal Beach and stingrays —

“A quarter of all stingray-related injuries reported in the United States occur at little tiny Seal Beach,” says Lowe. “For locals who have lived here for a long time, it’s commonly called Ray Bay.”
Forget Sharks, Watch Out for Stingrays, Jellies
July 23, 2002
Release from:
LONG BEACH, California, July 23, 2002 (ENS)
The greatest threats to California beachgoers in these warm months are jellyfish and stingrays. Sharks are a distant third, says Dr. Christopher Lowe, assistant professor of biological sciences at California State University, Long Beach.
A marine biologist, Lowe specializes in elasmobranchs – sharks, skates and rays – as well as game fishes. He says these sea creatures often move closer to shore during warmer months.
Jellyfish pose particular problems because they can be hard to see. “They get stirred up in the waves and the person gets stung and never sees the jellyfish,” says Lowe. “Generally, its sting is characterized by a light, tingly sensation that gradually builds into a burning sensation that tends to be localized where the tentacles make contact with the person’s skin.”
Jellies “can have tentacles that can be very, very long – 30 to 40 feet when they’re extended – so a person can be swimming along, get stung by a tentacle and never actually see the jellyfish,” explained Lowe.
As for treatment, “Often when people get stung, they have a tendency to rub their skin, and quite often when they do that, they just smear the tentacle over more of their skin surface. If you see the jellyfish, the best thing to do is to try to gently grab the tentacle – ideally with something other than fingers – lift it off and flick it away. People recommend trying to use a credit card or piece of cardboard to scrape it off without smearing it over the skin,” Lowe said.
Because the toxin is topical, vinegar is a good treatment, Lowe recommends. “You can use ammonia as well as Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. These will neutralize the toxin and take away the burn,” he says.
Getting stung by a ray is a more serious matter, especially if encountering a congregation of them. During the summer, stingrays move inshore and are most commonly found in estuaries, bays and along calm sand beaches, Lowe explains. “So the most likely places people encounter them would be if they were swimming at a bay beach or along a calm, sandy, muddy shoreline. They can aggregate in very, very large densities.”
When stepped on, a stingray whips up its long, barb-tipped tail.
“A quarter of all stingray-related injuries reported in the United States occur at little tiny Seal Beach,” says Lowe. “For locals who have lived here for a long time, it’s commonly called Ray Bay.”
Lowe researches the reasons for the high stingray population at Seal Beach. It may result from the breakwater off the Long Beach coast, which reduces shoreline wave action from around Seal Beach to San Pedro.
The San Gabriel River has several power plants that dump warm water effluent into that river, and that warms the water at Seal Beach, making it attractive for these rays, Lowe says.
Development of many of our bays and estuaries into marinas has reduced the natural habitat for the four types of stingrays found along California’s nearshore – diamond ray, round ray, butterfly ray and bat ray.
“So what we’ve done at Seal Beach,” Lowe says, “is, that through urban development, we’ve created a super habitat for some of these stingrays, and unfortunately, it just happens to be the same super habitat that humans like to go surf and swim and play in.”
‘In summer, we believe the rays are coming in to mate, and later in the summer, females are probably giving birth to their pups; rays give birth to live young,” said Lowe.
“The females might be staying in the warm water to speed up their gestation rate so their pups will develop faster. So the places where people are most likely to encounter them are when they’re walking around a shallow bay area through water that might only be a meter deep.”
The best way to avoid getting stung is to do what Lowe calls the “stingray shuffle” sliding one’s feet through the sand and under a ray. This will generally cause it to swim away without lashing its tail.
Stingrays are found right in the surf, and they also congregate just beyond the breakers. “A lot depends on the surf,” said Lowe. At places with milder waves, “we found stingrays right into the surf zone. By having that flat body, they kind of stick to the bottom and don’t get tumbled around. But that’s right in the place where people can’t see very well and as they’re walking through, that’s probably when they’ll accidentally step on one. But once you’re just beyond that zone is where we tend to find the greatest densities.”
Unlike the gradual sting of a jellyfish, “As soon as somebody gets stung, they’re going to know it, because it’s a barb that actually penetrates the skin and creates a wound,” said Lowe.
“Something has actually poked into your skin and there is mucus that covers the barb. Embedded in that mucus covering are toxin cells, so as the barb punctures the skin, it causes those cells to rupture and the toxin leaches into the individual’s skin,” is how he explained the pain.
“The first thing the individual should do when they’re stung is to do their shuffle back out of the water and try not to get stung again,” Lowe advises, “because quite often people hobble and when they do that, they take the chance of being stung again. You’ve got to think of it like going through a minefield. These animals are very social and tend to congregate. People ought to try to go back out the way they came in.”
“The general treatment is, first of all, make sure the wound is clean,” he said. “They should make sure the barb is no longer in there. The little barbs allow it to get wedged in, but when it pulls out, it pulls out a little bit of flesh and that helps rupture those toxin cells.”
In rare case, if the puncture is deep, the spine will actually pull out of the ray and get embedded in the individual’s skin. Then a medical doctor should remove it.
“In most cases it’s just maybe a quarter of an inch or smaller that penetrates the skin – just a quick poke is all it takes. It’s extremely painful. It’s not uncommon to see the toughest surfer dude weeping,” Lowe observed.
“As long as it’s clean and there are no bits of spine left in there, the best treatment is hot water – as hot as they can stand it. That helps denature the toxin. The general treatment should last an hour or more.”
For any type of beach injury, it’s best to seek medical attention from lifeguards who have the necessary training and equipment. The greatest concern is for individuals with severe allergies to stings. “Those people can go into anaphylactic shock and that’s why for some people, getting treatment right away is important,” said Lowe.
He advises such people to carry their anti-sting epinephrine medication. “It’s something people don’t think of taking to the beach.”
Lowe and his team of student researchers have been involved in discovering ways to help reduce stingray injuries. “In Seal Beach, the city has been looking at ways of reducing injuries to the public, and they’ve tried everything from eradication to translocation – trying to move as many as they could.”
Since none of these efforts were successful, or were considered to be ecologically reasonable, Lowe proposed a stingray barb-clipping program. “The barb is similar to a fingernail; it’s basically a modified scale,” Lowe said. “It doesn’t have any nerves leading to it, so you can clip off the pointy end.”
But after two years of clipping the barbs of about 2,000 stingrays, Lowe and his student team found that these rays replace their spines every late summer to early fall. A new spine grows in, the original spine falls off, so at no point are these rays really without a spine.
Lowe has concluded that the barb-clipping technique will not work at the scale that they were doing it. He now believes that “the answer is better education.”
For more information on Lowe’s research, visit: http://www.csulb.edu/web/labs/sharklab

Round Stingray caught at the Crystal Pier in San Diego by Mike Granat 

Posted by FakeFisherman

That’s where I got my sting…Seal Beach, except I caught the stingray off the pier and got stung trying to handle it. I’m sure the stings would be much worse if you were in the water and actually stepped on one.
There’s a funny story here, too. As I was taking pictures of the wound, a couple was walking on the pier and came over to see what kind of weirdo was taking pictures of his own bloody hand. I told them that I just got stung by a stingray, and apparently they had a friend who’d also been stung recently. The husband said, “You can put some steak sauce on it and it should feel better.” I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, so I kind of smiled and said, “ahhh.” Then the wife looked at him quizzically and quipped, “Not steak sauce…MEAT TENDERIZER!” We all had a good laugh after that.
FYI the wound was only about 1/4″ wide, but it was a little bit deeper than 1/4″ and was on the meaty side of my hand (pinky side). The stingray itself was no more than about 10” across.
The initial sting was obvious. Within 10 minutes it was annoying. After 30 mins it was hot, and the pain had spread through to my pinky. After an hour, half my hand – including the pinky and ring finger was extremely numb and the pain was pretty sharp. In two hours it was difficult to close those fingers. I’m probably stupid for doing this, but I never really took care of it and wanted to see what would happen with this sting.
During the next four weeks or so, the side of my hand was extremely hard and swollen, and sometime bluish. I would occasionally squeeze some fluid from the wound, but when I did this the swelling would increase over the next couple days. I was probably spreading around whatever toxin was still in my hand. It remained hard and distended and sometimes sensitive through about the 6th week, and then everything kind of went away. I still have a tiny scar to show for it.
Lesson: If you get stung, use meat tenderizer…NOT steak sauce!-Matty

Posted by jph

That’s where I got my sting…that must have been a baby bat ray that stung you, and still it sounds like it did quite a bit of damage. I wonder what one of those big guys can do?
anyway, I think my first reaction would be to suck the wound and spit out whatever comes out if it’s in a location that allows this.

Date: October 7, 2005
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Mr. Pole Pack
Subject: Question about stingers…

Anyone who’s been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium knows they have a bat ray petting tank. Last time I was there, I checked to see if their stingers were removed. They weren’t. Does this kiddy petting pool prove the stingers aren’t too dangerous? I’ve never seen some one get hurt by a ray’s stinger while it was on its back on land.

Posted by wang

I was told they cut them off (or down). I volunteered at the Aquarium of the Pacific for about a year. I was told the stingers are cut every 2-3 months. The stingers on ray are like fingernails, they grow back. The only downfall is, if they loose their stinger, that they are defenseless until it grows back. The tails doesn’t grow back if they are cut off.

Posted by eelmaster

The stingers WERE removed last time I was there.

Posted by geese

I would imagine it to be like a scorpion sting, or perhaps I may be wrong, it might be much more painful! Don’t want to find out.

Posted by Clayman

Have you looked at the size of those stingers on bat rays? They’re huge, and covered with slime. I’ve never been stung by a scorpion, but I’m sure a sting by a bat ray would REALLY hurt, and it would probably get all infected real fast. For sharp stingers, it’s hard to beat the two spines on spiny dogfish. Now those things are big AND sharp!

Posted by stripesidechaser

BTW, that isn’t slime on the stinger! That is actually a skin covered poison filled pod. The affects the nerve endings and causes intense pain (as if a 4″ long, 1/4″ wide barbed spear isn’t painful enough). When they stab an object, some of that “pod” breaks off inside (unlike RH’s buddy, most of the time the sting comes back out). I saw an extremely drunk guy get stung in the calve… That dude went sober!

Posted by q3fishboy

The Monterey Bay Aquarium does clip the stingers off of all the bat rays and stingrays that may be touched on display. As previously stated, the stingers are similar to our fingernails, and are actually made from the same protein. I have heard that the Monterey Bay Aquarium will catch bat rays, cut off the stinger, and put them in the touch tank. After the stingers begin to grow back, they will put them in a different tank where they cannot be touched. Finally, after the stinger is completely regrown, they will return the bat rays to the wild. I do not know if this cycle is true, because before the upgrade to the tank, I could actually recognize all of the rays in there individually. Though they have all changed since the upgrade, I don’t know if that actually cycle them regularly. However, they do clip the stingers off.
If you go to the Sharks Mystery and Myth touch tank and look at the round sting rays, it is much more noticeable and you can see exactly where the stinger used to be, as there is a small depression in the tail. However, the spines on the horn shark are a different structure, and do not grow back, so the Monterey Bay Aquarium does not trim them. However, they do have horn sharks in the touch tank in Sharks Mystery and Myth. So, they attempted to take a nail file and file the spines so they were not as sharp, which kind of worked.
Sorry about the long post, but I have spent way too much time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and though I have no official affiliation with the place, I really love it.

Bat Ray caught at Tides Wharf in Bodega Bay, 2004

Posted by outtosea2

I know a lot of people post BAT RAY pix here on the message board and hopefully most of them are returned to the water, much like one of my past 170# plus MAMMA BAT RAY that was returned unharmed to give birth.
What really irritates me is when ignorant people keep cutting off and mutilating the STINGERS and TAILS of these great fighters, just to throw them back into the sea to DIE later. I once hassled a jerk on NP PIER as to his cutting these STINGERS off only to put another one in his little glass “BRAGGING” collection jar.
After we all got on his case and made him look like an idiot in front of all the people crowds he attracted I think he finally got the message he wasn’t wanted there, and never has come back to my knowledge!!
Many BAT RAYS are left TOO LONG on the HOT CONCRETE PIER DECK to cook inside and or suffer organ damage from their excessive body weight on them, as they are a fish out of water once brought ashore, or taken out of their water element. In the water they are virtually weightless! I’ve seen many a dead BAT RAY under the piers while scuba diving to know!!
Eating them is one thing as a food source if they are big enough, as there is no size limit, bag limit, or species restrictions of any kind on them, and maybe there should be. A BABY KILLER is a bay killer by any means, all restrictions set aside. Hope my input sheds some different light on these often misunderstood yet magnificent fighters of the deep blue sea! Happy fishing, Frank

Posted by Ken Jones

Stingrays do not “attack” aggressively, or even actively defend themselves, when threatened their primary reaction is to swim away. However, when they are attacked by predators or stepped on, the barbed stinger in their tail is mechanically whipped up, usually into the offending foot; it is also possible, although less likely, to be stung “accidentally” by brushing against the stinger.
Contact with the stinger causes local trauma (from the cut itself), pain and swelling from the venom, and possible infection from parts of the stinger left in the wound, as well as from seawater entering the wound. It is possible for ray stings to be fatal if they sever major arteries, are in the chest or pelvic region, or are improperly treated. Their stingers are normally ineffective against their main predator, sharks.
Treatment for stings includes hot water (as hot as the victim can stand), which helps ease pain and break down the venom, and antibiotics. Vinegar or urine may or may not be successful in easing pain; neither cleans the wound properly. Other possible pain remedies include meat tenderizer. Pain normally lasts up to 48 hours but is most severe in the first 30-60 minutes and may be accompanied by nausea, fatigue, headaches, chills, etc.

Posted by CatchinKelp, October 13, 2010

Bat rays are the friendliest fish on earth, it is true. That is why I have a hard time imagining taking and eating one. It’s like… eating my dog or something… :p

Posted by clayman

The big rays have always reminded me of big cows, the way they make all kinds of slurping/snorting noises when on land. Even though I find them somewhat annoying when I’m targeting other species, I wouldn’t have the heart to kill one.

The correct way to hold a Bat Ray — caught at the Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon by Rita Magdamo in 2011

Link: http://www.tropicalleather.com/Biology-of-stingray




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