I have had only one go at the hounds this year and that was from a charter, a far cry from a kayak! That fact had to be rectified and what better time to do it than on a bank holiday?
My first try at them this year was with the aid of Kit Dunne from Wicklow Boat Charters and, although conditions on the day suggested staying at home may be the better option, Kit performed a wonderful job and managed to put us over fish where I believe many other skippers may not have been able. This day whetted the appetite for more but with work, weather and other commitments getting in the way, a return to the east was an unlikely prospect.
With a break in work and a family birthday I headed home and with the forecast giving a slight lull in winds I naturally packed a couple of kayaks and some fishing gear with the hopes of hitting some smoothhounds. Craig Murphy was to be joining me on the water and after a Dublin launch point was scuppered we headed south into Wicklow. A pleasant day and mild enough, we planned to anchor up a short distance out and fish crab baits on the bottom.
We had a selection of frozen and live crab. I was using size 3/0 Cox&Rawle Power Fast Bait Holder Hooks and whipping the bait with the Bait Weaver from Ullcatch. I bought the Bait Weaver in Southside Angling and was really impressed with its ease of use and simple design. Great idea lads. Using the Bait Weaver and the hooks which feature bait holding barbs on the shank ensured excellent bait presentation on the day. When mounted on the hook the crab baits stayed in place without slipping down the bend of the hook leaving the point free for excellent hook ups.
Using the echo sounder we found an open area of sea bed not far from some rough ground and anchored up. Dropping in we managed to hit fish fairly quickly, me drawing first with a lesser spotted dogfish. Craig followed suit followed by me catching the first smoothhound of the session. A lively fish of a few pounds it was a welcome arrival and after a short fight with quick powerful runs I was extracting the hook and releasing the fish. Not to be outdone Craig started pumping a hound towards the surface for a photograph and release.
The hounds went quiet and the dogfish moved back in. A couple of them came to the kayak before we started getting smoothhounds again. And that was how the session progressed. Smoothhounds interrupted by dogfish. As the tide started picking up and running we headed in for shore. The paddle back was a bit of work but perseverance pays off and before long we were back at the slip we had launched from.
Many thanks to Craig for the help in the hunt and for some of the images above. There may be another kayak angler in our midst! The short clip below shows the stamp of the fish we were hitting.