Stingray is one of the most common fish found in our Singapore water. It is a bottom feeder staying mostly on sandy patch seabed looking for prey. There are a few types of stingray on our shoreline and size of up to 20kg is quite common. The most common are the long-tail brown stingray, next are the leopard spot ray, the contour line ray, the eagle/bird ray and the hairy tail ray.
A hook big ray is a hard fighting fish that will bend your rod n send your reel screaming with line running out fast. It is any land base angler’s dream to hook a big ray n also a nightmare if they have to fight a long battle with a huge one. Fighting a monster ray on a surf casting outfit can wrench your back, ache your arm and tremble your legs. That why it’s call the game fish of the surf caster. Believe me, this big ray will test your surf casting gear to its limit.
(Above) Big stingray caught at east coast bedok jetty.
Tackles needed: 1) A fairly stiff beach casting rod about 12-13ft long
You need this type of rod because you have to cast a certain distance away from the shore and also it must be strong enough for you to pump a monster ray up from the seabed. (A soft n sloppy rod cannot do the job)
2) A solid reel (Multiplier or fixed spool) able to hold about 200-300 meter 30lbs mono line. The reel drag n gear must be smooth n strong enough to handle the hard fighting fish.
3) A sand-pike (for sticking onto the beach or breakwater stone to hold your fishing rod after casting.)
4) A gaff – to help to land your catch when it is near the surf.
5) A long nose plyer – to plug off the poisonous sting once you land your catch.
(Left)The Contour Line Ray
Terminal Rig: A single hook-flapping rig will do the job. Use a 4ft long 70lbs mono line as rig body; tie to a size 2 swivel on the top n size 6 snap swivel at the bottom for the casting weight. Hook snood is a 3ft long 70lbs mono. Tie one end to the rig body about 6 inches up above the casting weight. Tie the other end to a 70lbs snap swivel. Use a strong hook (Minimum size 3/0) tie to a 70lbs steel wire and clip onto the snap swivel. This rig is to ensure that your bait lay on the seabed after casting n also strong enough to withstand the rugged seabed during a long fight.
(Right)Fighting a big stingray like this is a memorable experience.
Baits: Stingrays take most of the baits present to them. Any small fish, squid, prawn, n sea worm will work.
For targeting big ray, it is best to rig big bait such as Tamban fish (herring), whiting (sua chiam) or whole squid. For small fish thread the steel wire from the mouth through the body to the tail so that the hook point stay out near its head. For squid, hook twice through the body n then through the head with the hook point staying out.
Use size 4 to 6 for fishing at beach n up to size 7 on deeper water such as jetty.
Where to look for sting-ray:
Many parts of the shore in Singapore are reclaimed land with access to deep water during high tide. Especially the eastern part where reclamation started many years ago. Marine lives have rebuilt their home on this part of the sandy beach. These beaches attract huge stingrays to come very near the shore for food and to breed the young during their seasons from March to October every year.
Techniques of fighting a monster ray
After casting your bait, put your rod on the sand pike. Click on the alarm and set your drag.
Setting a correct drag is very important, as you know a hook monster ray can pull your fishing gear into the sea with its first run. Stingrays normally close in on the bait and uses its body and wings to cover the bait before it starts to swallow. If you find your rod tip shake a little, don’t rush to pick up the rod. Wait for your rod to bend, then pick up n strike hard. Once the fish is hooked, it will make a run outward to the deeper sea at a very high speed, pulling along the line from your reel.
Don’t panic. Let the hooked fish run until it stops. Any attempt to stop the run by pressing your thumb on the spool will get your thumb burnt, or if you try to lock your drag tighter it will result in a break line.
Start to gain back your line by pumping your rod up n down. Wind in whatever line you can gain. Give a few hard pumps so that your catch is away from the rugged seabed. This will avoid line cut during the fight. Sometimes you may find that the fish rests with its wings n body stuck to the seabed. Don’t worry; just continue to put pressure on it by bending your rod tip n wait. Or you may walk sideways a few steps. This action will move your rig line n it may tickle the fish to move. Once you feel it moving, quickly give it a few good hard pumps so that you can get the fish up away from the seabed. After that, just play with the fish until it surrenders. Once the fish is near the surface, don’t pull with your line; wait for the next wave to carry your catch to the shore. Get your buddy to gaff it on the wing n drag ashore. All the while you must maintain a tight line from your rod to the fish.
Things to take note:
1) If your hook up is too big n you are too tired to tame it, pass your rod to your buddy to fight. Don’t try to carry on as it can cause injury to your back.
2)Don’t go fishing alone when you are targeting monster ray.
3) Pull out the poisonous sting immediately after landing your catch.
4) Stay away from the tail of a live stingray as a whip on your leg can cause injury.
5) If the ray stings you, squeeze out some of the blood from the wound to reduce the pain n seek medical help.
6) Remember that if the stingray does sting you, you will find that only your hair doesn’t feel the pain.