When Robert Dickson headed out for his second skate session of the day on Sunday 26th November, little did he think that he would join an elite group of European sea anglers.
Robert climbed down onto a rocky Caithness shore mark with his buddy Marc Gilfillan with the intention of targeting his favourite species, the massive common or flapper skate.
Setting up his usual skate tackle, a Ron Thomson Axellerator paired with his tried and tested Daiwa Saltist 40 reel loaded with 100lb breaking strain Agepoch braided line, Robert rigged his normal terminal tackle. This comprised a 250lb SeaTech nylon pulley rig with a pennel rig formed from two Koike circle hooks.
With Marc fishing a similar setup both anglers launched their big baits and settled down to wait for some action. Things proved quiet until after a bait change, Robert’s rod plunged over and almost left the rod rest. The powerful take was followed by a most un-skate like run which stripped the lone against the pre-set drag.
The line went slack and Robert cursed as he presumed the fish had dropped the bait. However, as he rapidly wound the loose line contact was resumed with the large dynamic fish. The give and take battle carried on for approximately thirty minutes before the silver and grey shape of a porbeagle shark was visible in the beam of the lad’s headlamps. A tangle with Marc’s line was swiftly sorted out by the judicious application of a sharp knife and it wasn’t long before Marc was able to grab the shark by the tail despite the ongoing swell and waves.
Robert was able to secure the sharp end of the porgie and the two lifted the magnificent fish onto a flat, rocky platform.
A call had been made to Jerry Guy as the fight progressed and he was able to capture Robert’s amazing catch on camera before the fish was safely returned to the sea where it swam strongly away.
The fish measured 70 inches from nose to tail which, using the tables produced by DAFFS gives a weight of between 120lb and 140lb. This would have been a Scottish record, but to claim the record the fish would have had to be killed.
Since the 1960’s fewer than five anglers have managed to land a porbeagle shark from European shores so Robert’s catch is truly a fish of a lifetime. At least until he hooks up with next one.