Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fish

Bat Ray

Bat Ray

Species

Myliobatis californica; from the Greekwords myl (a tooth or molar), io (an arrow or poison), batis (a skate or ray) and the Latin word Californica (referring to location).

Alternate Names

Stingray, stingaree, sea ray, eagleray, batfish, big black, sea bird, flapper, mud marlin, and monkey face ray.

Identification

Bat rays have a very heavy raised headand a dorsal fin at the base of a long whiplike tail with a stinger just behind it. Their coloring is blackish or blackish brown above and white below. Beware of the stinger.

Size

To six feet across and over 200 pounds; a 240 pound bat ray was taken from Newport Bay in 1957. Most bat rays caught off piers are under 50 pounds, but many in excess of a hundred pounds are caught every year.(I’ve seen pictures of a 176-pound bat ray from the Newport Pier and a 175-pound bat ray from the Aliso Beach Pier.)

Range

From the Gulf of California to Oregon.

Habitat

Prefers a flat, rocky bottom or sand amongrocks. Most commonly caught in bays and the deeper water areas around piers.

Piers

Bat rays are caught at almost all piers in California, both oceanfront and those in bays. Best bets: Shelter Island Pier, San Clemente Pier, Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, Redondo Beach Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier, Strearns Wharf– Santa Barbara, Cayucos Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Berkeley Pier, Candlestick Point Pier, San Mateo Pier, Elephant Rock Pier, Angel Island Pier, Tides Wharf – Bodega Bay, Eureka Municipal Wharf and Del Norte Street Pier.

Bait and Tackle

Bat rays have a history of being destructive.Protection had to be devised to keep bat ray out of oyster beds. In areas like Tomales Bay where oysters are still raised, they are still considered a pest. Oysters, clams, crabs, and shrimp are their main food, but bat rays will take almost any bait. However, live bait such as anchovies, ghost shrimp, mud shrimp and grass shrimp work best.Frozen squid also works well and is probably the least expensive and easiest bait to use. Central California anglers like to fish at night with a whole cut fish (smallcroakers or mackerel). Because of the potential large size, anglers wishing to fish specifically for bat ray should use heavy tackle and have available a gaff or netto bring the fish onto the pier.

Food Value

Excellent.

Comments

Many anglers concentrate on bat ray because of their large size and good fighting ability, hence their nickname of mud marlin. Not only do the bat rays put up a strong fight but they are delicious to eat once the fight is over. Of interest are the bat ray pools found at several aquariums (includingthe Monterey Aquarium and the Chula Vista Nature Center). The bat rays can be petted and in fact are rather pet-like, some even seem to like to have their backs stroked.Yes, their stingers have been removed. They are cut off about once a month before the stingers reach a length long enough to hurt anyone. The bat rays evidently suffer no harm from this minor surgery. However, bat rays in the wild still have their spines and can do a lot of damage, so be very careful if you catch one. For some reason Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara sees a lot of small, immature bat rays and there they are usually called monkey face rays.