Okay, it’s early on a Saturday morning, the weather outlook is not so promising and I’m sitting in the car at Croab Haven watching the rain bounce off the windscreen.
Enter Willie and Stuart who kindly agreed to take me out for a days fishing in the Sound of Jura to try and get me my first skate! After having donned all my waterproofs with full expectations of spending the day exposed to the elements they show me aboard their boat ‘Reel Deal’ – excellent – the waterproofs can come off and the bacon butties can begin as I settle down into their very comfortable cabin as we begin transit to the Sound.
Once there, we set out the rods and settled back to wait for the first bite. We were not alone, Ian’s two boats ‘On yer Marks’ and ‘On yer Marks 2’ were also in the area hunting for the large Common Skate. However, despite being within a similar area, only one boat (sadly not ours) was having any luck! Matthew, skipper of On yer Marks 2 was having a great day with 6 fish brought on board while ourselves and Ian had to make do with a few kelp monsters! Not the greatest day in terms of fishing, but certainly a good day out.
Now, its even earlier on Sunday morning (really…do we need British Summer Time???????) and I’m back at Croab Haven, in the car, watching the rain….again! It’s at times like this that terms such as ‘glutton for punishment’ spring to mind, but I was determined to get that elusive first skate and to be honest, the weather really doesn’t effect you when you have a great cabin to hide in with a cup of tea!
We stayed in the Sound of Jura and once again put or angling gear over the side and sat back to wait….for a few painful hours it looked like the day was going to be a repeat of yesterday, Ian was again close by not having much luck either (Mathew had decided that his 6 fish from Saturday gave him the chance to have a day off on land on the Sunday!).
Then the tide turned (literally) and we thought we had best do another bait check, I picked a rod, began reeling in the line…then it stopped!! Now, in most of my previous experience with angling this would signify “congratulations, you have caught a boulder fish!” however, one look at the rod by Willie and Stuart and I got a big pat on the back along with a “Now your gonna have to work….that’s a fish!”.
Suitably harnessed up I spent the next thirty or so minutes with my back bent trying to persuade the skate it really wanted to come to the surface to be tagged and measured after all (I wasn’t sure Stuart was being 100% helpful!! See picture) – I was secretly hoping for anything over 60lb (I think I felt that all this work had to be bringing something fairly weighty up, I would have been very disappointed in myself sweating so much over a 10lb fish!).
Eventually, Stuart called out “I can see it and it’s not half bad!”. Eventually we had her on board…a fantastic female specimen estimated at 196lb…not bad for a first skate! I was chuffed to bits! We got her tagged, measured and of course a few quick photos before returning her to the sea to fight another day! I could have gone home there and then being very happy with the catch, but just as we settled down, a reel started to run…..another fish! We had a good day with both Stuart and Wille landing two very impressive females (188lb and 177lb).
Ian…after resorting to every anglers last resort also had some success later in the day.
All in all – a great weekend and my first skate but definitely not the last!!!