Henry Gilbey
Cape Cod - 1010.jpg


Henry Gilbey blog

Extreme shore fishing, UK style - a guest blog post

I have been corresponding back and forth with Damian Greenwood for a few years now after he kindly emailed me to tell me all about what has to be some of the most awesome, extreme and just plain mad shore fishing around - and what stuns me the most is that it's happening in Scotland. Shore fishing for huge common skate !! Damian and his mates work together in a design and advertising agency called D&M Creative Limited and it seems that each year they head up to Scotland for this mad shore fishing adventure that is resulting in the landing of some truly massive skate. I can't thank Damian enough for supplying all these words and photos that enables me to make up this guest blog post (perhaps I should do more guest blog posts ?). You can contact Damian on this email address here by the way. Read on and be utterly amazed that fishing like this really does exist in our waters.............

All photos courtesy Damian Greenwood

The right venue, the right tides, the right everything - our homework paid off. Calm weather, full moon phases, big tides and our prediction of serious activity forced us to drop everything and get ourselves back up to Scotland earlier in the year that we'd ever been before. We decided to progress our fishing in 2012 to a new venue (with even deeper water ~ anything around 180' under our feet) in order to give ourselves the best chance of landing a monster. The shot above is me feathering for fresh bait at our first rock mark. Mackerel were everywhere, big mackerel as well. Morgan managed 28 in five casts (the majority went back, gloves on so as not to harm them) and we kept hold of the biggest for our new preferred baits (chunks).

So we had some massive fresh bait, we had 50lb main line straight through to 150lb wire traces, we had single size 8 bronzed O'Shaughnessy's (barbs removed) on the end of those and then we had a debate over who fancied going first!!! We just knew they would be there waiting in the depths.

Not fifteen minutes from dropping the bait down, we get our first skate run. 30 to 40 yards of line come screaming off the reel and then dead. The skate stops running and grips the bottom ~ Nothing to do but sit, apply pressure and wait for it to go.... here's Morgan playing the waiting game (above).

First success at 11.20pm! Just short of an hour later Morgan manages to get this specimen male up through the water. It roughly measures 77" long with a 67" wingspan, that puts this one at around 140lb's to 150lb's. The water is on its way in but for the moment, this a perfect landing platform right in front of us. Morgan's hand on top of the fish gives you some idea on the scale of these incredible creatures!

This fish swallowed my pliers as I was trying to unhook. No joke! It's hard to describe how the action on their mouths actually works. It almost jolts forward as you get near... that top jaw is serious. t shoots forward lightning fast and grabs anything in its way, just so happened to be my pliers. In the next big lung full of breath it spat them right back at me! Funny and frightening at the same time. Had it got my hand the outcome would have been, well, let's not go there. You don't want to get anywhere near these gnashers, they are simply lethal and designed for crunching anything edible that happens to stumble across its path.

Second take at 1.30am! Another insane Skate run on the Century this time only it's me at the helm. With a bit more oomph in this rod, we manage to get this one moving up through water quickly. Then the battle hits stalemate as the Skate holds in the water and fights to move outwards. More and more line simply running off the reel, you've just got to get your back into it!!

Eventually after an hour long battle another enormous male. Hard to get the right measurements on this one as I'm holding on to rocks with water that goes straight down in front of me. Difficult to get the tape measure accurately to the bottom of his tail... Another specimen,150lb's+, who knows, maybe more... (Females grow bigger than males, this really is a monster male).

Days 2 to 4. Loading the gear up and heading back out to the same mark for another session. I destroyed two tyres on the road leading up to Morgan's house as the terrain is rough so it was time to bring on the Landrover...

Good old Scottish weather comes along and lets us know that it's not all plain sailing. After bucketing down for a good couple of hours with a bit of thunder thrown in, the sky clears, the breeze disappears and conditions just get better and better...

Dusk approaches and the water becomes a mill pond once again. In front of the rods you can see the strange Scotch Mist that drifts around at dusk sometimes. After loads of activity in the water in front of us, silence fell as darkness rolled over. Then what can only be described as double decker buses falling out the sky and landing in the water in front of us, the single most eerie event of my life took place sending shivers up my spine! We had absolutely no idea what was going on, one big crash sent waves crashing into the rocks in front of us, then another and then a third enormous crash! We ushered ourselves back up the rocks in misbelief and tried to convince ourselves the Loch Ness Monster was actually a myth! Not real, honest! The morning after we heard in the circles from a local Creel boat that minke Whales had been seen close by! At last, we had our explanation and can only assume that their behaviour was either breeding or simply letting us know that we were on their patch! Incredible stuff to witness...

12.20 am and BANG goes the spool. I had half a dogfish (head and tail removed) on the hook and Morgan hooked into another Skate using his favoured Mackerel 'Chunk' bait. I mentioned this earlier and it seems to be a killer bait. Simple and somewhat crude, we remove the head and tail from the Mackerel, leave everything in there, guts, the lot and feed the hook down through it's body, then up through its backbone. Stays on perfectly and actually looks like a really well presented, albeit enormous ba it.

1.30 am Result!!!!! The one we'd been after and we finally had our reward after years of research, trial and error, knowing our fishing and venues inside out, but most of all persistence. This shot shows the skate slightly curled backwards down a vertical rock face. Between 7 and 8 feet long! Awesome! Hard to accurately measure this female again but it had to be our biggest ever. Wingspan mid-seventies and length mid-eighties puts this female anywhere from 220lb to 240lb. Is this the biggest fish ever caught from the shore in UK waters? It's worth mentioning that NONE of the skate that we have ever caught over the last 8 years have been tagged. We are most definitely the first human beings to have seen them.

Had to show you this photo, it's on the long trek to our new mark and just thought this was stunning. We've seen the Aurora from here also in previous years. I wished I'd had my big Nikon DSLR but this isn't bad considering it's shot on small Canon compact! It's hard lugging all the camera gear around up in Scotland along with the tackle as I know you appreciate...

Henry Gilbey18 Comments