Sea anglers know that the Irish Sea around the Rhins of Galloway (an ever popular sea angling destination) is always capable of throwing up the odd surprise, but we think it’s safe to say that nobody could have predicted the events of the past weekend.
The action started on Friday when a break in the wind allowed anglers from the Ayr SAC on board a local charter boat to venture offshore to a popular mark for tope. After an hours fishing a tope bait was picked up and a screaming run followed, however when the angler struck he found nothing but the sea bed. At least this is what he thought until the sea bed started to move away from the boat! After a long battle a 100lb male skate was landed, the first fish we are aware of inshore for over two decades.
This was only the beginning. Over the course of the weekend a further six skate were caught in the area with the largest a female fish of 150lb and one other fish (assumed to be a skate) was lost after a two hour battle.
All fish were caught on gear intended for tope on popular tope marks that are already fished regularly by charter and private boats alike. Considering the level of fishing effort in the region (and the methods used by anglers) it certainly seems that the skate are a new addition to the inshore area. We are unsure whether these fish are simply passing through the area of if they may become more permanent features in the south-west. It will certainly be interesting to see if any more skate turn up inshore over the next few seasons!
The image below shows what happens to a 6-12lb class boat rod intended for tope is pushed to the limit by a 116lb male common skate!