Of Bat Rays and other California Adventures

What’s the one thing I don’t miss about Iceland? The off season for fly fishing. In California, winter brings steelhead season, rockfish along the shore, and… flats fishing?

Yes, recently I’ve been checking out a new fishery (to me) in the inner bays along the coast, casting to leopard sharks and accidentally hooking into bat rays. So far I’ve only seen the leopards swim by me as I’ve been holding onto my rod, trying to prevent it from flying into the ocean as a bat ray ran off into the horizon, but the sharks will come.

Back to the bat ray: I’ve only hooked one so far, but the fight that resulted was one of the strangest, scariest, and strongest fish I’ve ever hooked. The fish took off like a train with all of my line, and almost all of my backing. Every time I’d gain a foot of line, the ray took 50 more feet of it. It was pretty ridiculous, seeing as the fish was over thirty pounds and I was holding onto it with a rod that felt like a toothpick compared to the monster on the other end.

Eventually, one hour later, the thing came closer to the shore, and at the shore someone (not my girlfriend…..) tried to lift the fish on land, dropping it and the fly came loose. Needless to say I wasn’t too pleased, but thinking back on it, I didn’t really want to handle that thing, it looked like a demon fish with its needle-like tail sticking out of the water and its wings that it swam with.

Hopefully as things warm up a bit more the leopards will move more actively into sight fishing range. Until then I’ll keep going out there waving my stick for whatever comes my way.


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