One of the biggest fish ever caught from British shores has been banked following an epic two-hour battle.
The estimated 192lb-plus skate, which would smash the current British shore-caught record for the species by over 20lb, was part of a five-fish haul totalling over 760lb captured by Accrington-based Damian Greenwood, while fishing with his business partner, Morgan Rothwell off the west coast of Scotland. It was the culmination of several years’ hard work for the duo, who have spent countless hours trying to work out the exact location of the skate.
Damian’s skate would have easily broken the current shore record, but to comply with the British Record Fish Committee’s criteria it would have needed to be killed to be weighed properly.
“There’s absolutely no way I would have killed this superb creature just so I could have my name on a sheet of paper,” he said.
“I’m more interested in the conservation of the species than claiming records. The skate was probably 60 years old. Killing it would go against everything I believe in.
Every fish we caught was returned safely.
“We worked out the weight based on the fish’s length, but the scale used only goes to 7ft and my biggest fish measured 7ft 2ins. It could have weighed over 200lb, but I took the lowest possible estimation of 192lb.” To avoid being plagued by dogfish, the pair used whole mackerel baits on size 8/0 hooks with 100lb wire traces and 50lb Daiwa Tournament mainline. This was offered at 40yds’ range in 150ft of water.
“We could’ve got away with using even bigger baits, because the first fish I caught that weighed 167lb coughed up a whole dogfish,” Damian continued.
“The hardest part of skate fishing is playing them. When they spread their fins, it’s like trying to drag a sheet of wood up from the depths. I enjoyed every second of the fight, but I had to have a rest afterwards.
“So little is known about the species and their habits. Morgan and I hope that by catching them we could learn more about their behaviour and why they go where they do.” Sea-fishing expert and TV presenter Henry Gilby was so impressed by the catch that he wrote about it on his blog www.henry-gilby.com/blog saying:
“Has there ever been a more impressive shore catch in UK waters? Anglers land freaky big stuff from the shore over in South Africa and Australia, but we just don’t associate our waters with shore fishing like this.” Amazingly, Damian believes there are still bigger skate to be caught from the venue: “It’s said that where there are skate, there are equal numbers of males and females. We caught four males and the big female, which means there were probably three more females we didn’t catch, and they could be huge.”