The bat ray is a cartilaginous fish which is also known as California bat ray, Californian eagle ray, Stingray, stingaree, sea ray, eagle ray, batfish, big black, sea bird, flapper, mud marlin and monkey face ray. It has flat body with light brown to black above and white underside. This fish has whip-like tail which is longer than the width of the body.
One to three venomous barbed spines are present near the base of the tail behind the dorsal fin. It has small dorsal fin which is located just behind the posterior edge of the pelvic fin. Tips of pectoral fin are rounded while sub rostral lobe is short and rounded.
It is an opportunistic carnivorous fish and its diet consists of clams, crabs, shrimps, echiuran worms and small fishes. It also eats the eggs of some fish species such as herring, topsmelt, jacksmelt and midshipman. It is preyed upon by larger sharks such as broadnose sevengill white shark and sea lion.
This fish grows up to 6 feet in length and 200 pds in weight. It can live up to 23 years. The female reaches sexual maturity at the age between 5 and 6 years while the male at the age between 2 and 3 years. It is native to the eastern Pacific Ocean that ranges from Oregon, USA to the Gulf of California and the Galápagos Islands.
It is a euryhaline fish which is able to tolerate wide range of salinities. It is commonly found along the open coast and around islands where kelp beds and sandy bottoms near rocky reefs and sandy beaches are available within depths between 9 ft 150 ft.
Bat rays form large schools with spotted eagle rays and smooth hound Sharks. Sometimes it also moves alone along the sandy beach area. Bat rays are very common in the month of October to December with peak in January in Estero de Punta Banda along the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula but it becomes uncommon in the spring and summer months. In Bahía Almejas, Mexico along the southern portion of the Pacific Baja California peninsula peak abundance of bat rays occurs in March. These two areas play an important pupping and reproductive grounds for bat rays.
The breeding season of bat rays occur during spring or summer. In early summer especially in April and May it congregates to spawn usually at high tide along shoreline in San Francisco Bay and Elkhorn Slough in Monterey County, California. It also congregates to spawn at approximately the same time in Humboldt, Tomales, Morro, Santa Monica and San Pedro Bay in California. At this time a female produces 2-10 pups following a gestation period of one year. In northern California sloughs, newly born pups are found in April and May while in late May and June; they are also seen in the shallow surf zone areas such as Santa Monica Bay of Southern California.
Usually bat rays fishing take place in protected or sheltered bays and estuaries. Bat rays are commonly caught at almost all piers in California using live baits such as anchovies, ghost shrimp, mud shrimp and grass shrimp. Frozen squid is also used as baits by many anglers. Central California anglers like to catch bat ray at night using a whole cut fish such as small croakers or mackerel as baits. They are caught it by using heavy tackle with 7/0 - 9/0 circle hooks.
Early march until late September is the best fishing period because at this time bat rays come near shore to spawn. Many anglers prefer to catch bat rays due to their large size and good fighting ability.
Good luck fishing for these guys. I personally caught one at 165 and it was a great tug of war! Loved it! Here is a picture of my buddy after a battle with a big guy.