Skate hunters out in force as anglers reel in massive catches

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The freshwater close season seems to have flown in and we are on the brink of another new season.

With just a few weeks to go freshwater fishermen are chomping at the bit.

The reels are greased and the trusty old fly rod is currently being polished while the fly box is in the bin with all those rusty hooks we left soaking in loch water over the winter.

But the strange thing is that for some the salmon season is already underway with Garynahine open and some fishermen and women already casting a line in the ice flowing down the Blackwater river in the hope of catching a spring salmon.

But there are an even hardier bunch of fishermen and women who have been bearing the cold wind and rain on the beaches of Lewis and Harris in pursuit of mainly flatties - as we used to call them - but the more cultured beach fisherman may describe them in terms of turbot, plaice, flounder and dabs.

However there is another fish that has been hunted with great stealth in the dark winter nights and that is the common skate although there is nothing common about catching them. A highly skilled band of late night skate hunters have managed to home in on the hot spots around the island where these prize fish can be caught. By all accounts people are turning up from all parts of the UK and beyond to try and hook one of these 200lb plus monsters.

Like all fishermen the skate brigade do not want to give too much away about how and where these fish are most likely to be caught but two of the most dedicated skate fishermen.

But Harris skate Hunters Geoff Peterson and Steven Morrison have given us a glimpse of what it is all about with some photographs of their amazing catches to drool over....and I don’t mean at the thought of a skate wing and some new potatoes but the thought of a 13 ft beach caster bent double with hundreds of yards of line being stripped of your multiplier as the stealthy winged torpedo’s head for deep sea after being hooked. It sounds like great fun to me but I’m not sure the old bones could cope with the cold.....Second thought’s …. where’s that body warmer and duffel coat , I’m off to have a go.

We take this opportunity to say well done to Angus “Mopp” Macdonald who despite having two hip operations in the past year has become the Stornoway Sea Angling Club Champion again out fishing some stiff competition from some excellent younger anglers.