Monday, July 18, 2005

Fish: Electric rays in Block Island Sound

Mario Tirone, maker of Mario’s Squid Strips and fluke rigs, held on while Bob Sampson snapped this photo of the electric ray Bob hooked into off Misquamicut Beach, RI. Photo by Bob Sampson.

by Bob Sampson

Here’s a photo of a torpedo ray, or electric ray that I caught off Misquamicut Beach three weeks ago. This fish was about 40 inches long and weighed around 30 pounds. They can grow to over 100 pounds, but if you catch one, DO NOT TOUCH!

Torpedo rays are identified by their fish-like tail (not spikey like a southern ray or skate), round body that is very soft and blubbery looking, and their color, which is like chocolate pudding.

These fish pack an electric shock that one reference described as “benumbing” after a small one was handled by biologists. Larger fish had been measured producing 170 to 220 volts, quite a shock to an unsuspecting angler who may catch and grab one thinking it to be an big oddball skate.

We think of rays as being a southern migrant, and most are. However, this fish is a cold water species that travels south from the Gulf of Maine. They are seldom caught south of the hook on Cape Cod, but due to the cold water temps we’ve had for the past three seasons a few are making their way to the waters of Block Island Sound, so be aware!

Editor's note: Bob Sampson is renowned as the outdoors columnist for the Norwich Bulletin as well as his local radio and television programs. Regarded by many as the state's top angler, he is also famous as perhaps our top multi-species fishersman. "In Connecticut, there is a different fishing experience to be had everyday," he likes to say.

Bob's guidebook, Best Fishing Trips in Connecticut makes it easy for families and weekend anglers to experience the best fishing Connecticut has to offer, fresh water and salt, month by month, practically all year long. These are the trips Bob began taking with his kids years ago and that they enjoy sharing together even more today.


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