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The Rays

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Fishing Forum

The Rays

Southern Stingray
Clearnose Skate

Rays are close relatives of sharks, but anglers seldom fish for them, although an occasional person will deliberately go after a Stingray, either for food or simply to have something pulling on his line. Skates and now-rare Sawfish also will bite a hook - usually to the fisherman's distress. Other Rays, including the Manta, Leopard and Crownose varieties, rarely bite, if ever, and so are not included here, even though it isn't unusual for an angler to foul-hook one of them.

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SOUTHERN STINGRAY (Dasyatis Americana)

Southern Stingray - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: Stingaree, Raya
RANGE: Commonly coastal, but Stingrays are also represented on and around coral reefs and even in the open sea.
HABITAT: Most species forage on soft bottom, particularly flats and shorelines.
DESCRIPTION: Several species are included under this collective name. They are dark colored and stand out vividly on shallow flats - unless buried in mud, which they often are while resting. The two most common in Florida are the pictured Southern Stingray, which grows the largest, and the Atlantic Stingray, Dasyatis sabina. In the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean, the Bluntnose Stingray, Dasyatis say, is seen most often. All are flat and equipped with barbed spikes on their tails that can deliver a painful and possibly serious wound to an unwary wader, or to an angler who handles them carelessly.
SIZE: Usually 2-3 feet in "wingspan," although individuals can run at least twice that size. World record 239 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: Quite good; they do taste like scallops.
GAME QUALITIES: Not a great fighter, but strength and the tactic of sticking to the bottom like a suction cup can work up an angler's sweat. Stingrays can be the shallow-water angler's friend, however, since they create bright trails of silt when feeding, and these "muds" often attract gamefish, including Redfish, Jack, Snapper and even Bonefish.
TACKLE AND BAITS: All kinds of tackle. On the flats, try spinning tackle baited with shrimp or crab. From a pier or bridge, use heavier gear - maybe surf tackle - with the same sort of bait.

LARGETOOTH SAWFISH (Pristis pristis)

Largetooth Sawfish - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

RANGE: All Florida coasts. Some in the Greater Antilles. Rare in the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Likes mud or sand bottom along the coast, and will wander for up freshwater streams.
DESCRIPTION: Brown or rusty in color; snout extends to a long, hard beak or "saw," fitted with sharp teeth on both sides. There is also a very similar species, the Smalltooth Sawfish, Pristis pectinata. Both are now pretty rare in Florida and the largetooth is encountered most often.
SIZE: Anglers are most apt to encounter small specimens, 2-6 feet long. World record 890 pounds, 8 ounces; Florida record 545 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: None. Protected species.
GAME QUALITIES: Poor, unless very large.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Seldom caught. Occasionally bites dead baits fished for Sharks.

CLEARNOSE SKATE (Raja eglanteria)

Clearnose Skate - The Outdoor Lodge Fish Species

OTHER NAMES: White Margate, Margate Grunt, Ronco Blanco
RANGE: Common throughout Florida. Being coastal, Skates are not prominent in the Bahamas and Caribbean Islands.
HABITAT: Soft bottom near shore.
DESCRIPTION: Skates are flat like Stingrays, but generally have shorter, fatter tails and lack the dangerous spikes. Several species are taken in Florida - all equally disliked by anglers. The most common is the Clearnose, shown here, which has transparent "windowpanes" on either side of its pointed snout.
SIZE: Most types average about 18 inches in span, although some reach or exceed 3 feet.
FOOD VALUE: Good, same as Stingrays.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Bottom tackle, with dead shrimp or cut bait.