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Smooth Hound, Mustelus mustelus

Irish Record Fish:
Boat Specimen:
Shore Specimen:
Photo Credit:

 Luke Scully with a smoothhound taken on ragworm from somewhere in the Irish Sea in a summers' day aboard the "Durty Fecker I"

Introduction: The Smooth Hound, another sleek predator and miniature shark, is common in Irish waters.  Though smaller than the Tope, it can grow > 10 kilos (25 lbs) and is usually found over sand.  It offers great sport and lives up to its name with exhilirating and sustained runs...  Another species of Smooth Hound, the Starry Smooth Hound, is caught occasionally but these are rare fish in Irish waters, with your bets bet being the southern Irish sea.  If you want to catch a Smooth Hound (known as a "smut" for short) the beaches of south Wicklow and east Wexford are a key mark for fishing from the shore.  Smaller pack fish are also caught on flooding tides, especially at night, off the southern shore of the Shannon Estuary, especially around Glin.  Smooth Hounds hunt in packs and as a consequence of this, you can go for hours without a bite and then have an hour of frantic activity, that stops in an instant. Smooth Hounds are often marketed - like so many of our smaller shark species - as "rock salmon" and whilst they do taste nice, it seems a shame to kill such a magnificent fish.  Catch & release.

Boat tactics: Given their relatively small size, you can drop down to 8 lbs when fishing for Smooth Hounds off a boat.  You can dispense with the wire trace for whilst their skin is abrasive, their teeth are not up to much! The  normal bait is mackerel strip, a cocktail with ragworm, or best of all crab presented on something like twinned 2/0 hooks in a pennel rig.  This will give you a shot at species including flatfish and even Turbot.

Shore tactics: Smooth Hounds have achieved cult status with some shore anglers, a bit like Bass only a lot faster!  They make a dramatic change from flatfish and herald far better weather, arriving off our shores in mid to late spring, and staying on as long as November (depending on the weather and water termperatures).  They offer the same excitement a Tope, but as the rod heels over and line screams off the reel, you know that a 'smut' will not pop the rings off your beachcaster.  The bigger fish hunt alone.  Since fish over 12 kilos (25 lbs) are not unknown in the UK, including the Bristol Channel, we reckon there is definitely a bigger Irish record fish out there, probably to be found on the beaches and sandbanks around Wicklow, Wexford and the Saltee Islands.  The standard size of fish around Wicklow is in the region of 2-3 kilos (5-7 lbs) and peeler crab is the preferred bait.