I managed to meet up with Alan at the Glasgow Angling Centre, I'm parked outside trying to figure out how to get through to his mobile as the code wouldn't work.. while Alan is trying to phone me and getting the engaged tone. I finally got through via Holland to find he was only 50yrds away.
As we were having to wait for Mark to finish school and for Linda to finish work I had planned on giving Alan a tour of Glasgow .. my work had other plans. We managed to do a couple of tackle shops, a Chinese cash n carry and time in the Glasgow Kelvingrove museum, home to the tagging programme. Time flew by and despite another hiccup with work we managed to get away for 5.30. A nice leisurely drive to let Alan see the sights, seen us arriving at LochAline about 8.30pm.. After a brief guide of the caravan and the Village, I took Alan along to the pier to let him see the local charter fleet (all two boats of it). We soon found out that the "Brendan" was going to be out of a skate charter on the Saturday, so I ended up giving John a hand to get the gear ready while Alan helped Bodie, the part owner of the boats, to fit a grab rail on the "Peregrine"
The plan was to head out around 9.00 on the Saturday morning, as it would be nearly high tide I decided we should have a few casts for Pollack at the entrance to the Loch before heading out. unusually the Pollack decided not to play with Alan managing only a small red cod while I blanked. We decide just to go and anchor up right away as we had plenty frozen bait, The "Brendan" decided to go and get some fresh Mackerel first. We motored down to a mark that had produced the goods a couple of weeks before and dropped the anchor. While we were getting the gear ready and letting the boat settle in I informed Alan that we normally see Golden Eagles on a near by cliff, as I pointed the area out there right on cue was a Golden eagle.
Unfortunately the eagle was the highlight, the forecast drop in wind speed had not happened, if anything it had built up so I decided on a move to another mark that would give us better conditions to fish. In hindsight we should have stayed where we were as the skate started to feed not long after we left, the anglers aboard the "Brendan" landed one fish of 102lb and lost two. That made my mind up we were back to the same mark on the Sunday.
Arriving back at LochAline we decide to give the Pollack another shot at high tide, this time Alan had one Pollack of about 4lb and some clonking Coalies some reaching 2lb,. the biggest Coalies I had seen up there. I targeted the smaller Coalies (ok that's all I could catch) and we soon had some fine fresh baits.
On Sunday Morning we headed back out and after a quick stop off to get some fresh Mackerel, we anchored up close to where I had anchored the day before. The baits were dropped over on the 4 skate rods and we sat back and waited. Just before 12.00 we had a take on one of the rods, but the hook didn't connect and I was pretty certain it was a small fish. It happened again about 15 minutes later, not wanting to miss a chance I brought out a 30lb class outfit and set it up with a smaller hook and a double squid bait and dropped it down. At 12.20 another take on the skate rods, this time the fish was on and it was a good one, after getting Alan into the harness and thighpad, I stood back to give him moral (slag him rotten) support, only to see the 30lb class rod fold over with another fish. The problem was, it wasn't a wee fish so I opted to put the rod back in the holder with the drag on full and concentrate on Alan's fish. It only took Alan 35 minutes to get her to the boat and history was made. We dealt with her as quickly as possible and got her back into the water sporting a nice new tag, No 02470.
While Alan recovered I took on the fish on the 30lb class rod, it took ages to get the fish moving up the way and at one point it had went round the anchor rope, then for no apparent reason after about 1 hr, when the fish was only about 50' below the boat the braid parted.. Bummer.
On the Monday morning we headed out to try for Pollack before going and anchoring up again for a few last hours. The first mark produced a blank so we headed off to another mark and had a quick stop off along the way to get some more fresh Mackerel. The next mark was the Grey Isles at the entrance to the Sound and on the way out to them we passed through the largest pod of harbour Porpoises that I have ever seen. There must have been around 20 to 30 of them all around us; it was quite a sight as we plodded on our way. We arrived at the Isle and had a few drifts but again the Pollack were being very elusive, we did however have the pleasure of a couple of Otters hunting in the kelp along with a couple of Common seals that were sunning themselves on the rocks.
Time was now pushing on so we opted to go and anchor up again at the same mark in the hope of some more skate. This time we only had fresh mackerel and one lone Coalie that was left over from Sunday, it was a wee bit ripe to say the least. It went down on one rod and we mixed the baits on the other rods between flappers, whole and double mackerel, just for variety.
As expected the rod with the coalie bait was nailed first right on cue and Alan was getting well in to the swing of things and soon had another male skate of 112lb on the boat. As Alan had wanted to get a photo of a skate being weighed we did the deed with this fish, incidentally when checked on the charts the fish came in at 107lb.. 5lb of a difference isn't bad on a moving boat.
I was up next and produced a small female of 73lb, the smallest skate to come into the boat this year but still a nice wee fish. Alan had the next run, which produced a hard fighting male of 88lb and I followed it up 2 hrs later with the last fish of the day another male of 87lb.
By now Alan was trying to figure out how to avoid having to head back home and I must admit I felt the same way, but we had a cracking weekend and one that won't be forgotten in a hurray. It had turned out to be my most productive trip for nearly 5 years and to be honest more than I expected in my wildest dreams. Alan had a baptism of fire in the art of skate fishing he also learned a few facts of life when skate fishing, the main one being skate know when you turn your back to make a cuppa or a bite to eat .
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