Donegal Kayak angler Graham Smith  reports on a day of monsters at the end of a fantastic year.

Back again,
More grey hair and slightly worse for ware.
Another excellent day appeared on the forecast and where else would you find me on a day like it.
This day Mike Sherwood was up for a monster hunt to, so rods, reels and hooks where gathered that would look out of place on a small boat never mind a couple of kayaks.
It was a belter of a day and all was calm.
There was a light easterly forecast so we where gear for a cool if not cold day out there.
The 2 of us headed out 1hr before high water which was ideal for some bait hunting before we headed out.

Bait fishing can be great fun.
Lines where dropped as we went dipping here and there looking for bait. When a nice shape appeared on the sounder, I was thinking mackerel or herring. So line down with white euro champs and the rod buckled over.
It could only be Pollock or coalie and to our delight it was coalie. An excellent skate bait, plus the best of craic catching them.
Every drop the rod buckled and the line was peeling off the reels with three to four 2lb+ coalie.
It was that much fun we nearly didn’t head out, but come the turn of the tide they would settle down and be very hard to tempt.

Graham Smith - Nov 2015 1So enough for the day fishing were kept and away we went trolling the rigs looking for mackerel but we only got one. As always I had the porgie rod with me and since there was really only squid out there I am assuming that any porgies that are left out here must be after squid. So I stuck a big squid on and bound it in place with the heavy bioglow elastic thread. It was good, and held the hook in position very well, as we all know hook position is half the battle. You don’t want the hook lost inside the bait when you are trying to hook a fish.
Out that went on a balloon and I wanted it very deep as that’s where the squid are. So I let out about 80ft of line and set the balloon 2.5oz of lead and away down tide it went.
Then the skate rod got a whopper coalie on and it also got lowered to the bottom.
Then the light rod got the usual rig when there’s a chance of spurdogs, a mickey fish rig with a squid jig on top.
The wait was on and we had some doggies and small ling.
As I sat there my balloon came free of my line, no runs or tugs. The small swell just pulled the line free as it takes a lot to hold them at depth.
By now the tide had eased and my line was slowly sinking to the bottom.
I was quiet happy to let it go to the bottom as I had been toying with the idea of trying this to drop a bait down tide for skate so I could use 2 rods for skate. Plus I had that monster hit me in the dark on the bottom a couple of weeks ago.
More doggies and small stuff for the both of us, the banter was good and the slagging is never far away,
As it was quiet I decided to give the porgie bait that was now on the bottom a lift and reeled in about 20 yards, as Mike was telling me the sharks lads where getting hits with moving baits.
Rood back in the holder, clutch set for a take, but I forgot to put the ratchet on.


The silent zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
I was sitting there and I started to feel a rattle trough the kayak and turned to look at the porgie rod to see the rod top bouncing. I was thinking a skate had just jumped on the bait so I reeled the light rod in quick.
Then lifted the porgie rod and struck hard. The line went for another few yards and then came to a solid stop.
The porgie rod is a penn 30lb to 50lb class rod. Its a bit soft yanking skate off the sea floor but that’s what he hit and it was about to be tested to the full.
The line had come to a solid stop and no amount of pulling would shift it.
So I let the anchor go and worked the rod until I was directly over the spot it stopped at. It was this point I realised the bugger had peel of near 100yards of line very quickly.
He had wrapped the line around several rocks so a bit of paddling and heavy had the line poping off each rock as I paddled and each time I got a bit of slack line for a second thinking each time I lost it.

Eventually I could feel my lead bouncing off the bottom so my hook was now I was either hooked to a lump of Donegal or a dam big skate as she was not shifting with out a scrap.
I heaved like hell and mike was heckling me from a far YOUR STUCK ARE YE LOL.

170lb skate...
Tip of the Iceberg… Graham Smith wins ‘Catch of the Week’ with this 170lb skate

Oh I heaved like a mad thing either that was coming up or I was going down lol. Either way something was going to give and then movement. I got it up about 10ft off the bottom and shouted over its up and then back down again it went. It done that about 3 times. But I could clearly see it on the fish finder and you can just see it on the fish finder screen the blue line, its about 25ft off the bottom here. the screen is zoomed here.
Up she comes.
Ye she was coming up and the seriously damaged line was coming to. The rod was holding up well to the abuse but myself and Mike where wondering if the line would as there where slivers of line coming off as it came trough the rigs. The skate gave it a terrible doing on the boulders. So no braid for me any more. The other rod is getting mono soon.
At last the bright yellow lead end of Alain Storey’s was coming up and I was delighted to see it come into the top eye of the rod as the piece of line near the leader was in a shocking state.
I grabbed the leader and the skate came along side slapping splashing along side. She was immense. The big ones are an unbelievable site when they come along side
She looked a similar size to my last big one but was 5ft4″ across and 78″ long working out at 170lb.
A massive thanks to Mike for helping me get her measured.
Here is what my bait looked like after that beast devoured it. And it was still held in place with the heavy elastic thread.

Graham Smith - October fishingThe excitement wasn’t over yet.
We had been towed and drifted about a mile at this stage so a brisk paddle back with an aching arm lol. We where soon at anchor. Mike and I whacked large squid baits on down they went.
Not 30mins later I could hear mikes rachet going at a good rate.
Mike grabbed it and struck hard and hoofed up the drag and it kept going it was going mad and trying to get away but it was coming up not to bad and after a minute or so it was looking like Mike was going to get his first kayak skate and all of a sudden BUMP, off it came. F#####KKK echoed around the area as Mikes disappointment was very clear.
The hard fighting beauty was gone.
We fished on with more doggies and squid some of which where huge.
So Mikes skate didn’t come back but he did get a brute of a spurdog when I had the skate on so no pic of that fish unfortunately.
But he got the dinner no bother to him, with a good few huge squid.
As the year is nearing the end on the big salt stuff, I thought a pic of how the typhoon suit was getting would be appropriate. Here it is not even washed yet after a day fighting with Skate, Squid and lots of baits. It is still in perfect condition despite many lads prediction that it would never survive my kind of fishing. Thank you Typhoon with Wet and Wild in Belfast you make an excellent suit.

Graham Smith- still dry

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