The Thornback Ray or roker is the member of the skate family most likely to be met in shallow British Waters.
During its spawning period it can be found in less than a foot of water.
Vital Statistics: Scientific Name: Raja clavata
Maximum Weight: 40lb
Average Weight: 10lb Maximum Length: 38inches
Life Span: 15 years
Thornback Ray characteristics:
Thornbacks are rays, as opposed to skate. The main difference is in their appearance - rays have much shorter 'noses' than skates.
Though both skates and rays look very like flatfish such as plaice, sale or halibut,
there is no relationship between their two families.
The resemblance is due to the similarity of their bottom dwelling lifestyle. In face, rays are very closely related to sharks.
The backs of rays are coloured to suit the type of ground they inhabit, as a means of camouflage.
The dorsal surface of the thornback is mottled and blotchy and varies from brown to grey with many dark and yellow patches. The
underside is off white with darker edges.
Where to find Thornback Ray:
During the summer months they move inshore usually off beaches (3-6m) to breed and they often remain here throughout the summer. Winter they will move into slightly deeper water (20 - 60m).
Thornbacks mainly feed on the sea bed and are not particularly fussy about what they eat. Small flatfish and other bottom dwellers will be eaten, but the preferred
diet consists of crabs, shrimps and shellfish. They tend not to pursue prey over long distances, instead they lie in wait, camouflaged against the bottom.
Thornback Ray baits:
Anglers tend to prefer fish baits such as mackerel. Other good proven baits include peeler crab, ragworm, cuttlerfish.
How to catch Thornback Ray - Techniques at a glance:
They feed tight on the bottom. So heavy ledgers and big hooks are needed. They can be caught from the shore,
but most large specimens come from the deep sea boats.