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
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STINGRAY (Dasyatis Americana)
OTHER NAMES: Stingaree,
coastal, but Stingrays are also represented on and around coral reefs and even in the open
species forage on soft bottom, particularly flats and shorelines.
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.
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.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.
LARGETOOTH SAWFISH (Pristis pristis)
Florida coasts. Some in the Greater Antilles. Rare in the Bahamas.
mud or sand bottom along the coast, and will wander for up freshwater streams.
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
are most apt to encounter small specimens, 2-6 feet long. World record 890 pounds, 8
ounces; Florida record 545 pounds.
FOOD VALUE: None.
GAME QUALITIES: Poor,
unless very large.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Seldom caught. Occasionally bites dead baits fished for Sharks.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still
CLEARNOSE SKATE (Raja
OTHER NAMES: White Margate, Margate Grunt, Ronco Blanco
throughout Florida. Being coastal, Skates are not prominent in the Bahamas and Caribbean
bottom near shore.
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.
types average about 18 inches in span, although some reach or exceed 3 feet.
FOOD VALUE: Good,
same as Stingrays.
GAME QUALITIES: Poor.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Bottom tackle, with dead shrimp or cut bait.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing.