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Hoots Mon - Get 'yer Skates on!

Discussion in 'Sea Fishing Forum - Shore, Boat & Kayak Fishing' started by rupert, May 2, 2012.

  1. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    I’ve just returned from a foray north of the Border chasing the big dabs and thought you guys might like to read a report on our trip and seeing some snaps/vids.


    Skate fishing isn’t for everyone. It’s pretty hard work on all fronts. For us Yorkshiremen, it’s a long 7 hour + drive to reach the fishing base at Crinan, on the west coast of Scotland. It also takes quite a bit of preparation in terms of gear and bait. The weather can at times be completely against you. Our quarry, the massive skate, are horse work to pull up. But of all these obstacles, one of the hardest things to deal on trips like ours is the language barrier!

    Al Snorey and I met up with up with a thoroughly enthusiastic group of Scottish guys, Fin, Rab, and Dusty at out base at the B&B / cottage at Bridgend. A few of their mates had joined the gathering with their boats too, Davie and Stevie, Ron and Davie. We all shared a common passion when it came to sea fishing, and these guys couldn’t do more to make us feel welcome. (Mind, getting everyone to smile at once for the camera was challenging!)


    Having met in the morning and fished that day, our first evening together, on the Friday night, was a classic. Some had caught some enormous fish, whilst others hadn’t had a touch on the skate front. The beers were flowing as fast as the advice, fishing talk and banter was at full burst. A long day at sea at sea had made for some hearty appetites, so Dusty rustled up some fried sausage butties. Therein lay the problem.

    Fin, who up to now had been without grub all day, ate his sausage butty like a greedy Labrador. In the meantime, he also wanted to discuss his views on the days fishing with big Rab. It had the makings of a really educational discussion and I was keen to learn more from these experts. However, those two, speaking with the strongest of Scottish accents, at a minimum of 1,000 words per minute (without drawing breath), whilst spitting butty breadcrumbs, made translation nigh on impossible.

    I had to interject.

    “Fin man - whoa, whoa, whoa! We have enough trouble understanding you with an empty gob, let alone one filled with a triple sausage butty!”

    I think he appreciated the difficulty Al and I had in understanding and slowed his chat down a bit, without taking offence.

    Skate wise, the first day on Friday, had been a bit of a struggle. Al and I had one skate aboard at 167lbs according to the chart, but that was at final knockings, after some of the others had pulled their anchor and called it a day. 50% of the boats had blanked, with the others catching maybe half a dozen skate between them.


    The second day, Al and I ventured further south down the Sound of Jura. The area that interested us was the submarine exercise area where the chart plotter showed depths of 600’ plus. (I for one had never fished for subs before). We lowered the anchor down and with much anticipation dropped our baits into Davy Jones’ locker. The baits we were using being rainbow trout, octopus and dogfish.

    Disappointingly, the baits sat out all morning without any indication of interest. Winding the 4lbs of lead back up in 600’ of water was hard work and nesecitated dropping our two speed reels into ‘low box’. The baits had been unmolested – even the doggies hadn’t found them, so a change of mark was agreed.



    Using the Alderney ring method to retrieve the anchor worked well. I had set a ‘lazy line’ up from the bow, which makes pulling all the anchor warp in, so much easier. This way, you are working over the gunnels of the boat with plenty of space, rather than leaning out in the confines of the cuddy hatch. Al pulled the rope in and I had my head down coiling the rope neatly in the big black tub. Once our work was concluded, I sparked the engine up and off we set.

    You can just see the buoy in the background on this picture with a lot of rope to be pulled in!


    The sea conditions were nearly smooth, so I could open my Warrior 175 out a bit. She cruises really nicely at 26-28 knots and we were soon covering some ground. After 5 minutes Al enquired whether we were going back to Crinan, to which I replied in the affirmative. Actually, I thought it was a bit of a daft question really, but didn’t say anything at the time..............

    The weather was bright blue sky, which really enhanced the stunning Scottish scenery, with the Isle of Jura lying to the West. Then it hit me. The back drop of mountains looking towards Oban had gone! Also, Jura was on the wrong side! Having had my head in the bucket coiling the rope had completely disoriented me, and I was merrily motoring out towards County Antrim! Doh! What a tit! I turned the boat 180° and this time headed north!

    We caught up with Fin on the VHF to hear big Rab had just had a massive 225lber. That’s some sized skate for sure. Well done Rab! We decided to put our hook down close to where we fished the previous day. It gave us around 430’ of water, which seems to be a good depth to target skate.
    The second afternoon was almost a re-run of the day before. A long, long wait, then action at the end of the afternoon on double trout bait. This time Al got stuck in.





    We gave it to 7.30pm before calling it a day and heard that Dusty was into a fish on Fin’s boat. Once we’d retrieved our anchor, we motored over to watch. The fish surfaced well downtide of the boat and Dusty had to work hard to pump it in range of the gaffs. These big skate are very impressive beasties that within the confines of a small boat, I tend to think the camera doesn’t always do justice to. However, being able to take some snaps at range shows the scale of these fish so much better. The photo below, of the skate being gaffed onto Fin’s boat, puts their dimensions in true perspective.




    On the third and final day, Fin, Rab and Dusty had to be away at midday, so they were out on the water before us, leaving Al and I to load my boat up with the gear. One of the other boats had taken me across to my boat, which was tethered to one of Crinan Boatyards permanent moorings. I climbed aboard and sparked up the engine. Lazy line unclipped, the boat was put in gear to head to the floating pontoon. Suddenly the engine died. Whilst I had seen and avoided the rope to the mooring buoy, I hadn’t seen the rope from the small marker buoy and I wrapped the prop! Luckily it all happened on tick over and came out easily. By this time, I had been joined by Al who had been dropped off on my boat to help out with my schoolboy error.

    Panic over, we motored back to the pontoon to collect our gear. Al took up station with the boat hook, ready for when I came alongside. Al reckons I approached too fast, I’m not so sure, but what happened next was priceless!!

    Al was standing at the stern and clicked the boat hook around the stainless ladder on the pontoon to halt the boat. My warrior 175 is quite a heavy boat and despite being out of gear, she drifted on alongside the pontoon. Al looked determined to stop her with the boat hook, but failed. The next thing I hear is a colossal splash as Al had been dragged over the stern of the boat. I turned around to find he had completely disappeared underwater! A few seconds went past without him resurfacing, and I thought for a moment, I was going to have to go in after him.

    It was a relief to see him surface and I remember thinking he’d done very well to keep his spectacles on through his impromptu immersion. The hardest thing though was keeping a straight face whilst he clung onto the boarding ladder cursing that ‘effing boat hook’. Apparently, he hadn’t wanted to let go of the aluminium boat hook in case it sank. As it was, it floated anyway, and there it was bobbing faithfully at his side, whilst both of us took stock of how to get Al out of the water!

    The boarding ladder is designed for boats, and has few rungs unlike a long swimming bath ladder, but the low temperature of the sea must have spurned Al on to pull himself out quick time. Once standing on the pontoon with water running out of his pockets, waders and everywhere else, I’m pleased to report that Al saw the funny side too, as I’m not sure how much longer I could have lasted without cracking up with laughter in front of him. Poor Al was soaked to the skin, but at least his fly away white hair looked to be under control for the first time ever on this trip.

    Once we’d gathered ourselves up we loaded the boat and anchored up a short distance from Fin. Unfortunately, Al didn’t have a change of clothes, so he had to make do with a change into my Greys smock.


    We put our baits down and Al took shelter in the cuddy in an attempt to keep warm. I still had visions of seeing the soles of Al’s waders submerging as he went in head first, which throughout the day, kept me laughing out loud.

    This just had to be shared, so I gave Fin a shout on the VHF.

    “ Fin – do you have any shampoo?”

    “ ??? Rupert, can you repeat, over ??? ”

    “ Fin – I was wondering, do you have any shampoo aboard?”

    “SHAMPOO! – what on earth do’ya want wi’shampoo!”

    I then told the story and for the next 10 minutes all the other boats chipped in with a barrage of abuse for Al. It really was very funny, but he took it well.

    The wind started to get up during the late morning, and producing quite a chop. We had anchored 100 yards or so downwind of Fin’s boat, but as the morning progressed, Fin’s boat appeared to be getting closer and then drifted past us, before coming to a halt 50 yards downwind of us. I had a nasty feeling that Fins anchor had snagged my anchor warp. This is exactly what had happened and sorting out the situation was, shall we say, a bit interesting. However, the use of a buoy/Alderney ring on each warp got both to the surface in the end.

    We said our farewells to Fin and his crew, repositioned the boat and set our anchor again. Fin had given us some octopus baits and these were great to use, as being quite rubbery, they were resilient and long lasting. Not half an hour later, the check one of my Shimano Tiagra reels chirped out. I failed to get to the rod quick enough and the skate dropped the double octopus bait. Often with skate fishing, providing the bait hasn’t been torn off the hook, the skate will come back and under 5 minutes, I made contact again.

    I had pumped the skate clear of the bottom, when I noticed one of Al’s rod had a take. We had a double hook up on our hands!



    Once I had my skate to the surface, I tethered the 400lb wind on leader round a cleat and the skate sat patiently waiting it’s turn until it could be dealt with by both of us. Al’s was safely gaffed and unhooked in the water, and then we dealt with my first fish. The third day at sea turned out to be our best, and we finished the day with 5 skate in total, all between 150 and 180lbs.


    The tide didn’t allow for retrieving my boat from the water that evening, so we left it on the mooring overnight and returned the following morning. There, we found Ron and Davie on the slip retrieving their boat. Apparently, they had been out to sea and had been hoping to tie on to the anchor and buoy they had left out from the previous evening. Annoyingly for them, there was no sign of their buoy the following morning, so whether someone had made off with it in the early hours, was a strong possibility.

    So that’s skate fishing ticked off for this year – some good fish caught, a nice few beers and some good craic on an evening with the Scottish lads.
    And Al – just to end this post……you know you reckon you don’t snore – Well Fin and I beg to differ. Turn your sound up and listen to this for a cider induced tune :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

  2. pro angler

    pro angler Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Nice report and some good craic was had. mint
  3. Sambo

    Sambo To the MAX!

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    Love the video of Al's snoring! Remember when we all camped over for the Filey kayak match a few years ago we could hear Al snoring from his tent. Said then he sounded like he was shagging a Bison, looks like nothing has changed :laugh:

    Looks like it's been a productive and very entertaining trip lads, some cracking Skate you've had. Only wish I could of joined you, if only to see al fall in :laugh:

    Now that is hell of a fish!

  4. willybendit

    willybendit Rockling

    Hi Rupert Fantastic report & pictures same again next year ? im well up for it hears a few more pictures
    Bimini twist giving it warp 9 down the sound of jura
    and the next time i take a pictures of you SNORRING ill make sure how to work the bloody camera
    [​IMG] id just like to thank you and the rest of the Lads for a great few day away Cheers and tight-lines Alain
  5. skaterboy

    skaterboy New Member

    Great report and photos lads.Glad you were rewarded for all your efforts.
  6. mystic girl

    mystic girl Blenny

    Well done Rup, glad to see you got a few, and you had your drinking head on
    Looks like you had much better weather than us


  7. david blake

    david blake Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    nice report sounds a bit too mutch hard work for me
  8. Howard

    Howard Blenny

    Brilliant stuff R. So refreshing to see some fish been caught. Still grim weather for as far as can be seen on the charts never known anything like it at this time of year. Im climbing up the walls. Thanks for the write-up n pics. H.
  9. Davo

    Davo Rockling

    Smashing report Rupert. Well done on the fish and glad you got dried out Al. Looks cracking scenery.
  10. fazbats

    fazbats Blenny

    Fantastic report and great pictures,
    I'm still chuckling away to myself over Alain's decision to go for a swim while poor old Rupert was trying to moor up :laugh: :laugh:
    It could only happen to you Alain...........................

    Well done to you both for making the long trip up there and catching some nice quality Skate


    P.S Nice boat you have there Rupert.
  11. filey bouy

    filey bouy www.fileylifeboat.co.uk

    Great report as usual, glad you christened the boat, I see you assumed the skippers snoozing position Rupert.
    Know what you mean about the anchor bouy in the distance when we weighed ours up there a yacht tried to get between us and the bouy while we were pulling it back after a few yorkshire slang words he realised and altered course.

    Bring on the Tope.....
  12. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Cheers Carl. I'm still sniggering about Al's swim too.

    Last year, he came so close to having another swim on exactly the same part of the pontoon. He was standing up to get out of small inflatable dingy whilst holding onto the boarding ladder. The inflatable moved away from the pontoon just at the crucial time of getting out! Arms and legs flailing everywhere, how he didn't end up in the drink, I just don't know. I had tears running down my face with laughing last year.

    Watching him swimming this year topped it though!! His head first dive in was pretty tidy too. I think it would be judged close on a 10 anyway!
  13. bucko

    bucko New Member

    Astounding fish- especially on such a small bait :scared:
  14. blackmouth

    blackmouth Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    1st class report and pics mate ,
    it was a fantastic weekend fri was very slow with few fish playing,saturday was great for us with 6 skate boated from 3.5lbs [smallest i,ve seen] upto 225lb-the official record is 229lbs but bigger have been caught .sun was slow in the morning as we all expected and after we left it good action for the boats still out-well done on your 5.
    great company,laughs ,weather etc -need to do it again soon.-no idea of total caught over weekend-need to take my socks off to count i think lol.good quality with a few 160-180 mark.al seems to making a habit of this swimming fully clothed nonsense personally i wouldn,t recommend it as it is rather chilling in there.lol. cheers fin

    ps i could understand the scottish lads no problem even with full mouths. :laugh:
  15. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Ian - Big bait, big fish!

    Some of you might notice something odd about the photo where you can see two rainbow trout on the hook. That fish must have spat the barbless hook, but got foul hooked and was pulled in arse first!

    The other picture worth a closer look is one of Als that he posted. He caught a skate with two other anglers hooks in it where the mainline parted. I don't know how long those 10/0 hooks had been in the fish's scissors, but I'm thinking that they would have taken an age to rust away.

    We're told hooks rust away in no time, and I dare say when ingested into stomach acids that's maybe correct, but I couldn't see these hooks (both of which had crushed barbs) coming out any time soon without our intervention.
  16. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    That's very true Fin.

    Being a porridge gobbler, you're still a pi$$ poor translater into Yorkshire though! :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  17. captain chaos 2

    captain chaos 2 Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    rubert i have to say that is the best and funniest (sorry alain) crinan report i have ever read it actually made me laugh out loud superb
    great pics it was an awesome weekend even with all the hic cups that a few of us had, the vid with alan snoring is so funny i actually thought it was fin the first night how can his other half sleep must wear ear defenders i presume.
    anyway a great weekend which we will have do do again sometime glad you & alain had a great final day after we left to top it off....cheers rab.
    ps had a few pics here to but cant fathom out how to upload on this forum
  18. rupert

    rupert Blenny


    It would be great to see the pictures you took at the weekend.

    Upload them in photobucket. Then you copy and paste the code of the picture into your reply here.

    Hope that makes sense.

  19. Ramsrod

    Ramsrod Rockling

    Great report again Rupert, you always seem to get results no matter what you target!
    Shame about Alain falling in though.. :whistle: :laugh:

    I reckon the water depth is about 10 times deeper there than what it would be, at a similar distance from the shore, around here. Is it really snaggy or relatively clean?

    Thanks for another informative and funny post backed up with top pics.
  20. Redron

    Redron Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Fantastic Report and Superb Pictures. Obviously not Al's underwater Camera. lol Don't recall it being so calm/flat conditions. We must have been getting caught in the Wake from your boat. Would also like to thank you Big Time for the use of the NET as we got ourselves into a wee bit of trouble when my FIRST Skate slipped it's way into the boat (Unintentionally I have to say) What we will do to get a Picture of a Fish. Can't really take a picture of a beast lying in the bottom of a Boat. 182lbs No bad for a First Skate. We will have to get back up again for a re-run. Great Weekend and Company and laugh (Sorry Al)

    Thank again!

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