Description: Skates are flattened, oval-shaped fish that have eyes on the top of their heads. Their tails are moderately slender and are usually covered in thorns or denticles. Unlike stingrays, skates do not have a venomous spine on their tails. Seven species of skates are found in North Carolina waters, with the Clearnose Skate being the most frequently encountered. 

Size: skates can reach a length of around 30 inches, although they typically are much smaller than that when caught.

Sometimes confused with: stingrays

Habitat: Most skates are bottom-dwelling fish that typically stay in shallow coastal waters, although some species do live in the deeper waters offshore. Occasionally, some skates will enter high-salinity estuaries. 

Eating habits: Molluscs, shrimp, crabs, and small fish make of the bulk of the skate's diet.

Fishing tips: Skates are commonly caught while bottom fishing for other species using natural bait. 

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

No award given for these species.


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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