Wrangling a ray without getting stung

If you fish with live bait during the summer in Mississippi’s coastal waters, chances are you’ll eventually hook up with a stingray.

At that point, the challenge becomes unhooking the creature without winding up on the business end of its barbed stinger.

Capt. Ross Montet with Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, La., uses his landing net to keep rays under control, so they’re never dangling from the end of fishing line or flopping around the deck of his boat — perfect opportunities to jab someone.

“I net them, and then step on the metal ring of the net to pinch down on their tail so you don’t have to worry about it flopping everywhere,” Montet said. “At that point, you have him out of the game so you don’t have to worry about that tail swinging around and popping you.

“It’s controlled, and then you can get a pair of pliers in there to unhook him.”

To unhook a ray without getting barbed, leave it in the net, step on the ring of the net with the tail under it, then unhook the ray.
To unhook a ray without getting barbed, leave it in the net, step on the ring of the net with the tail under it, then unhook the ray.

With Montet’s method, the stingray never leaves the landing net.

“So you never have to pick him up with your hands or even touch him,” he said. “After you’re done, just grab the net, flip him out and he’s off going about his business.”

Montet’s never personally experienced stingray venom — but understands it can definitely put a damper on what was an otherwise great day out on the water.

“I’ve been fortunate to say I haven’t been stung by one yet. But from what I’ve heard from people who have been, they say they hurt like fire,” he said. “I don’t want any part of that.”

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