The smooth hound season starts around the end of May and runs right through the summer months, all depending how warm or cold the seas are. Last year I didn’t get a chance to go beach fishing or chartering for smoothies. That I sorely missed but this year I got a call off my friend Damo to see if Dan and I would like to go on a trip for hounds with Kit Dunne, a well-known skipper in Wicklow. With the day booked off from work all that was left to do was get some crab. With the peeler crab scarce in Cork, I had to ask Glenn and Killian, the other Dublin lads to add another fifty crab onto his order for me. With the weather looking good and a few specimen smoothies being caught, we set off on the three-hour drive from Cork. As Dan and I arrived at the dock, Kit was on his boat, ready and waiting with the engine running as the lads loaded the gear. Within minutes, we were on the way. It was a nice change not to have to launch our own boat!
Lisin 1 and the Castle Maiden are docked in Wicklow harbour
The Lisin 1 and the Castle Maiden are 10.5-metre (35′) offshore 105 boats with spacious deck and cabin space, ideal for fishing or simply relaxing while taking pleasure in the scenic views. They are fast, modern, fully licensed and equipped with all the relevant navigation, fish finding and safety equipment. Insured to comfortably carry 12 passengers plus 2 crew.
Boat charters with a qualified skipper at all times for Angling, Heritage, Scenic and Wildlife Tours, Safety Boat, Dive Charters, Surveys and Passages. All charters have the provision of a safe and secure trip on-board and a comfortable stable boat with inside and outside seating, toilet facilities and complimentary tea & coffee.
Kit Dunne is a highly qualified and experienced skipper/angler with more than 30 years angling and boat-handling experience, numerous Team Ireland caps, coupled with coaching qualifications. As a local Wicklow man with experience in the RNLI, Kit has a wealth of knowledge of the local coastline, maritime history, safety at sea and the angler’s needs.
After a short journey we were at one of Kits renowned hound marks. He quickly dropped the anchor and when the boat settled, we dropped our baits to the bottom along with it. As our baits hit the sea bed Damo shouted “ten euro a man for the biggest smoothie” When fishing for smooth hounds always have a steady number of extra peeler crab peeled and ready to hook on. The reason is that the faster you get scent in the water the greater the chance of hooking larger hounds. The key for success I have found on these charter trips is to get a bait back to the bottom as fast as possible. Dan and I were soon landing numbers of smooth hound and so were the lads from Dublin. However, as they were catching the larger ones there was another bet announced from Damo which was “Cork vs. Dublin” With the deal agreed, Dan and myself had to pick up the pace, as there was now three anglers against two of us. I changed from a single Pennel rig to a double Pennel flowing trace, which I loaded with crab.
Crab peeled and cut, bait elastic ready. All I would do after unhooking a fish is wrap the next bait over the used bait on the hook. This will keep your bait large enough and appetising for the bigger smooth hounds
Keep a steady supply of crab peeled at all time and keep them covered from direct sun light to keep them fresh, juicy and in good condition
To be honest, with both smoothies and dogfish coming on board fast and furious between us all, it was hard to keep up with peeling the bait and, with the tide pulling harder as time passed, we had to put on a pound and a half to two pound of lead just to hold bottom. With my bait nailed to the sea floor Kit kindly made us our first cups of tea and coffee of the day. With that I put my rod in the strap that are on the gunnel rails and I loosened the star drag on the reel to ensure it didn’t get pulled over the side as I enjoyed my lunch. With just one bite taken out of my sandwich, I got a decent bend on the rod and then the reel started to empty. My reaction was to grab the rod and for the thousandth time I spilled my tea and dropped my lunch all over the deck. [Typical – always happens when you are having your lunch]. With the fish hooked and staying deep, I was hoping it was just one big fish on my two-hook rig. As it came up under the boat I could see it was indeed on its own and of a nice size too. With the smoothie landed, we put it on to the measuring mat and it was shy of the new length based specimen size. We knew it was over the weight though so I put it into the live-well so it could be weighed on land a few hours later.
My first specimen smooth hound of 2016 that weighed 8lb
As Dan and I fish as a team whenever we fish together, we like to joke around and tag each other in for the next specimen. Unbelievably, within a few minutes of me doing this on board Kit’s boat Dan was fighting a good fish! When we got it aboard and on the mat we realised that it was like mine; it didn’t have the length to be a length-based specimen but did look the weight so, as there was plenty of space in the live well, in it went too along with my fish.
Dan with his 7lb 10oz smoothie that took three crab on a 4/0 Pennel flowing trace
Whilst Dan was re-baiting, team Dublin took their turn at the back of the boat as there complaining that all the fish were back there and not on their side. With the lads at the back and Dan and I at either side the funny comments started to being whispered, like “we’ll show those Cork lads now” Then my reel screamed into action with a heavy weight thumping the rod, and as it neared the surface I could see it was a nice Thornback ray.
my first Thornback ray off kits boat
As I dropped my bait back down as quickly as I could, Dan and the lads were into more fish. Damo and Killian were first in with their smoothies and then Dan landed his hound, all 12lb 8oz of it – what a cracker, and even better it was caught from the side of the boat where there were apparently no fish! It was the largest hound of the trip so far.
Dan with this 12lb 8oz smooth hound that was the winner of the heaviest hound of the day
With every drop from then on, hounds and dogs were landed but the specimens slowed up until I had a lovely run from a 7lb 4oz fish, my second specimen of the day.
it can be super fishing up the east coast especially when you have a good skipper and landing quality fish like this 7lb 4oz hound
As the tidal pull had nearly stopped at this stage, I was surprised that all our rods were still thumping over with fish. Not that we minded, of course! Then to top off the day myself and Dan got another nice surprise each; Dan landed a bass, a first off Kit’s boat and I landed a good size Bullhuss.
a nice surprise at the end of the day, Dan with a bass and me with a Huss
with kit calling lines up team cork chaired and the competition results were called out. the “largest smoothie of the day” bet as proposed by Damo went to Dan lynch and the best team “Cork vs. Dublin” challenge, went to cork.
Dan winner of heaviest specimen fish and team cork takes most specimens
The McCormack twins Glenn and Killian, Damo, Dan and myself had a grate day fishing and the crack with the lads on the boat was mighty
Damo and Killian with a pair of hard fighting hounds caught on large crab baits at the back of the boat
Tips on How to calm a specimen smooth hound 1]Have a registered weighing scales and a IFI measuring mat
2] After landing the fish weigh it and if it is over specimen weight for that year put it on the mat and put it noes to the up stand of the mat and stretch it out straight along it, then take a photo. If it is over one meter and you have no scailes it can be claimed as a length base specimen
3] Take a clear photo of it mouth
4] Then take a photo of you holding it
5] Down load and print out specimen forms from http://www.irish-trophy-fish.com and fill out and send them to c/o inland fisheries Ireland, 3044lake drive, citywest business campus, Dublin 24
Until next time