Common Skate (Raja batis)
Big rod-caught common skate can weigh 68 Kg (150 lbs) or more. Common skate are known to exceed 180 Kg (400 lbs) in weight! The average common skate weighs around 20.41 Kg (45 lbs).
CR – Critically Endangered
The common skate has a flattened body with broad pectoral fins which resemble wings and can grow up to 2.8 M (9.4 ft) in length, meaning it is the largest skate in the world. It has a long and pointed snout and has a long tail. Its back is grey-brown and “patchworked” with light-coloured blotches and a blue-grey underbelly. Many horn-like spines run down its tail and older common skates can have these thorns on their bodies too. The common skate has a IUCN status of CR – Critically Endangered – and should therefore be put back if caught.
So how do we catch one?
Common skate can be caught using a wide range of baits, whole fresh fish, half a whole fish or fish strips of mackerel, herring, coalfish, pouting, pollack, whiting and squid are ideal. Sandeels, crabs, shellfish and ragworms can also all be used.
The common skate can be caught throughout the year.
Favourite Feeding Places
The common skate likes to feed at both deep and shallow waters over sand, mud and mixed “rough” sand/rock seabed. Common skate are most easily caught close inshore where they often feed.
The common skate can be caught in all British waters, with Scotland and Northern Ireland providing the biggest sport.
Best rigs for common skate fishing
A basic leger rig with a wire trace attaching hook to swivel on line is the best option for common skate fishing.
Basic Leger Rig
This rig is used to lay hookbait on the seabed. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft). This rig works so well because your line is able to pass through the weight’s “eye”, meaning that shy or suspicious fish can tug the bait without instantly sensing the resistance.
A boat leger rig with a wire trace attaching hook to swivel on line is recommended when fishing for common skate from a boat.
Boat Leger Rig
This is one of the simplest and most effective rigs for boat anglers. The space between the hook and swivel can vary, but should generally be about 1 m (3 ft). The bait is presented on the seabed and the line is able to move through the boom without hitting the weight which would otherwise scare off a bait-biting fish.
- Common skate are known to toy with bait before swallowing, don’t tighten your line as soon as you feel a little tug, wait for a strong pull on your line, then tighten and reel-in.
- Common skate stick to the seabed with tremendous force; once you’ve pulled it off the seabed, steadily pump them to the surface. Don’t allow them to glide back down towards the bottom.