I (Terry Morris) and my wife Eileen live in Newcastle. Eileen is not a total fishing widow, she fishes too! In fact we spent our honeymoon fishing; an understanding wife helps a lot, given the expense of decent fishing equipment, not to mention persuading her I needed a new boat. I retired early after many years as a Paramedic Station Officer within the Ambulance Service; this has given me the opportunity to fish, fish, fish.
I started fishing as a boy, firstly with my father, in rivers and holidays to the Northumberland coastline which left me well and truly “hooked”. I enjoy all aspects of fishing, Trout and Salmon fishing countrywide, I have visited the Mull of Galloway for over thirty years and enjoy my yearly “Boys” holiday to Northern Norway for Large Cod and Halibut, as the once abundance of cod have seemingly disappeared not just from our coastline but whilst boat fishing too I am now happy to “Catch and Release” to ensure the fish are there next year!
I first started fishing for Skate in the Oban area around ten years ago, but after a fabulous week last year in the sound of Jura, myself and Eileen returned this year. We hired the same cottage on the shore line and had a mooring for the week for my boat, “Jessie-Lou” name after my granddaughter, a Quicksilver Pilothouse, as easy as the boat is to tow and launch, but the mooring made it that little bit easier (it is a holiday after all!). We were blessed again with good weather which resulted in being able to get out to fish for five days albeit mostly six hours at a time as anyone who has Skate fished will know it is not for the faint hearted, sometimes it is more like torture than pleasure!
The trip resulted in 10 fish, our largest an untagged female weighing an estimated 180lb but the majority of fish caught were male, which seem to give a greater fight in being caught. Bait was two whole mackerel, mounted on a 12/0 barbless hook and we kept the 250lb mono trace short to avoid gut hooked fish. As for my fishing gear, no expense spared, from rods, reels, and braid. The unusual thing about the fish, and something that really made me think was the fact that 8 of our 10 fish were recaptures – previously tagged fish including one that I myself re-caught two days apart on this trip! If these fish hadn’t been returned when they were initially caught, my weekends fishing would have been considerably poorer!
I always aim to get the Skate back in the water in less than three minutes. This includes removal of the barbless hook, measuring and cleaning the specimen, retrieval of tag data (or insertion of a new one) and of course a quick pictures before returning the fish safely to the water via a piece of trawling net, an invaluable piece of equipment which fully supports the fish for its return.
The largest skate I have caught was an untagged female in the Sound of Jura last year, at some time, this fish must have been unfortunate enough to be caught in a trawling net and had had her tail cut off to save their nets, with no thoughts for her or indeed her subsequent life. She seemed well and with a well healed stump she was my biggest catch to date but an accurate weight was unavailable as an accurate length could not be gained for the weight charts.
I feel that more credit should be given to organisations such as SSACN and their tireless campaigning , Common Skate along with some other fish require preservation status, these amazing creatures could and so easily will disappear if people are not educated, articles appearing regularly in our press with a obviously dead or distressed fish, headlined “A catch of a lifetime” weighting 180lbs, serve no purpose During my fishing life, I have first hand experience that fishing numbers have diminished, the endless work of conservation societies and tagging schemes are in my opinion the way we must proceed, so as future generations can enjoy the seas and the wondrous creatures’ they behold.
FISH FOR THE FUTURE so very important.