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Manta Ray and Other Horror Stories

 

Rare occurrences now, in years past Manta Rays were a common sight in area waters.

 Many anglers had encounters with the huge rays and not just in the regular fishing sense. When the wide body beasts were more plentiful, it was an often-told tale of a big ray running into anchor lines of varied sized craft. Like many accountings of water born adventures, things get exaggerated! But where there’s smoke there is fire and more than a few small boaters were given the boat rides of their lives when the fluke of an anchor would hang on the wing of one of the giant rays… In many fishing circles there was no limit to the jokes and remarks that evolved from the stories. Even today, if an anxious boater gets under way before, forgetting about and dragging his anchor, an old local salt might comment that he’s ‘trolling for Manta Rays’ …

 

…No small boat angler who fished open or semi-open waters of the gulf, bay and inter-coastal waterways was unaware of the fact that at any time one of the big rays (not just Mantas) could come soaring out of the water on a collision course with anything in its glide path and point of splash-down!

  If you have never witnessed a larger specimen of any of the mega-sized rays execute one of these aerial maneuvers (to shake off remoras or whatever) up close, you can’t imagine the possible catastrophic results of such a collision.

   Damage caused by hooked or free jumping tarpon landing in open boats (you NEVER want this to happen) would seem mild compared to what one of the big rays could do with a bulls-eye landing on a small boat loaded with gear…!

 

 …About the only thing anyone can do to prepare for a several hundred pound sea creature to come crashing down out of the sky on top of them is imagine it in advance and be ready to jump (overboard) out of the way! (Save yourself)… Although the possibility always exists there are few if any verifiable accounts of such an event ever happening locally.

  …As wooden skiff anglers who regularly fished within a few miles of the beach, we were always prepared to ‘bail out’ if necessary… our (required) life preservers firmly strapped to our tackle boxes, extra rods and as much other gear we figured they could keep afloat should disaster strike.

  Most sunken boats, maimed anglers and gear lost in this nature are usually caused by hooked and free jumping tarpon, landing in and on anglers and boats…

 

Another “expect the unimaginable” consideration with large rays, is when using cast nets. It is not that hard to imagine a 20-foot or bigger diameter cast net enveloping a big ray. A common ray weighing a 100-pounds or better might only be 3-feet across, other species weighting 300 pounds or more are quite common and seek the same thing as many cast netters…BAIT. Having the tag end of a cast net line tied to your wrist and throwing blind in deep or turbid water may get you more than you bargained for! Especially when throwing from a bridge or pier…
[to be continued]




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