(Raja Batis)

The common skate belongs to the skate family, three of whose members are of importance to the UK sea angler: the white skate, the long-nosed skate and the common skate. The common skate is sometimes referred to as the blue or grey skate, due to its greyish-blue colouration when first taken from the sea. They are usually a dark, greenish-brown colour across the top side, with a whitish-grey underside littered with dark-rimmed pores, and will often have golden-coloured spots and pinkish stripes on the back. The body is shaped like a diamond, while the front end resembles the head of a shovel. Like other skates and rays they have two large holes, spiracles, just behind the eyes. Skates breathe through these for if, like other species, they had to take water in through their mouths, they would not survive, as each breath would mean a mouthful of mud.

Where To Find Them

These days mainly the waters of western Scotland the Scottish Islands and also off the coast of South-West Ireland. Once common around the whole coast of Britain, these giants of the sea are now mainly sought after off the Western Isles of Scotland. They grow to a huge size, up to 8 ft (2.44 m) in length, live in waters of up to 600 ft deep and have been caught weighing 150 lb or more. Many anglers who fish for the skate return their quarry to the sea after capture in a bid to preserve this wonderful creatures. The larger common skate can be found over sand and mud bottoms and spends much of its time half buried in the sea bed. This gives it the cover to seize its prey. Smaller common skate are often found in shallower water.

When To Find Them

May through to October, with September offering the best fishing.

Natural Food and Best Baits

Dogfish and small rays are a major part of the diet, but they also eat small flatfish, edible crab and starfish.

Tips and Tactics

Use a very large bait such as three whole mackerel or a pollack of 3-4lb.

UK Records

Shore: 169lb 6oz

Boat: 227lb