Extreme shore fishing, UK style......
At heart I am a UK shore angler, but the word "extreme" is not one that I would usually apply to it - we have got some great fishing from time to time, but what we generally do not have is shore-based access to seriously big fish that are actually going to physically test you to the limit. So how about this then ?
Photo courtesy Damian Greenwood
I was recently emailed by a Lancashire based shore angler called Damian Greenwood, telling me about some plans to head up to the west coast of Scotland and have a proper go at landing some big skate off the shore. Pretty awesome I thought, but I was not sure whether I would hear any more about their exploits................until this photo above came through the other day. From the standard measurements, that is Damian with a 192lb+ skate that he landed from the shore. Pretty awesome ? Sod that. Off the scale stuff. I am just massively impressed by what Damian and his mate Morgan have achieved - Damian reckons this massive fish would be some kind of UK record, but I am pleased to say that all the skate that the guys caught were safely released.
Damian and Morgan fished the west coast of Scotland from 23rd - 30th July, with their sole aim being to try and land some big skate. They had both been smashed to pieces up there the year before when targeting thornies, and had come to the conclusion that the culprits had to have been skate. A return trip was planned. I take my hat off to these guys in a big way for taking the time and making the effort to really go and see what could be done. And Damian is utterly convinced that he has lost bigger skate than that biggest one that he landed..........
The guys landed five skate from their rock mark - obviously they are keeping the exact location a secret. They told me they were fishing on the west coast of Scotland, and I asked no more. If I was landing fish like these and successfully returning them, the last thing I would want would be to see somebody else coming in and potentially killing a fish just to claim some kind of record. The sizes of the skate they landed were 144lbs (Morgan), 167lbs (Damian), 131lbs (Morgan), 135lbs (Morgan) and then that monster female 192lbs fish of Damian's. One hell of a week if you ask me. I am guessing that the sheer body depth of Damian's skate in the photo above was incredible, something that a photo is never going to show. Has there ever been a more impressive shore catch in UK waters ?
The biggest skate was hooked no more than 40 yards out in around 150' of water, and it took around two hours to land. I am guessing that Damian was a wreck when that fish eventually came in !! This is seriously hard fishing, especially when you are having to pump these huge fish up from depth - very different to the big sharks I have fished for in Namibia, for they run out and out in shallow water.
The bait they used was whole mackerel, which also helped to prevent dogfish from picking up their baits all the time. The 167lb skate actually coughed up a whole dogfish Damian told me.They hooked into skate within half an hour of starting their monster hunting trip on their first Friday evening. How much of a buzz must that have been ? I am just so impressed at what these guys have done - a fair number of anglers talk about doing this and doing that, but Damian and Morgan actually went and did it. And they did it in style. Nice one guys, and thanks for telling me all about it.
Landing fish like these is not done with your "regular" shore fishing gear you might use from say Chesil Beach - Damian was using a Century WR300 for sheer lifting power (it's a tournament casting rod), with an ABU 7500i CT HS multiplier reel, loaded with 50lb Daiwa Tournament mono main line straight through. I used to use that Daiwa Tournament mono years ago now for a lot of my shore fishing and I always remembered it being seriously good stuff. You can't argue with what these guys have put it through !! Morgan uses the same kind of reel, but his rod of choice is a Zziplex VMax F1. I guess you could say that they are using the right gear !! Rigs were 100lb pennels with 8/0 O'Shaugnessy hooks and those whole mackerel baits.
So there you go. Some of the most incredible shore fishing I have ever heard about, and I am so pleased that I can report about it from UK waters. Anglers land freaky big stuff from the shore over in say South Africa and Australia, but we just don't associate "our" waters with shore fishing like this. A huge thanks to Damian for corresponding with me about it, and thanks for letting me put this blog post up about it. If you want to contact Damian or Morgan and ask them about this fishing, then Damian has kindly said that I can put his email address here as a point of contact. Damian and Morgan own and run an advertising, graphic design and marketing agency called D&M Creative - check it out here.
Please take a moment to check out this amazing story right here - over in the US they are about to start work on removing a couple of major dams from the Elwha river that lies in Washington State over on the east coast of the USA. Yes, you read that right. Removing dams. Apparently the Elwha river used to have an incredible (Pacific) salmon run, and hopes are that over time this waterway will be restored back to its original state. How cool is that ? Makes one think......