Sea Fishing Article
Article: Mark Sheldon
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Smooth-hound are a very popular fish to target through the summer months giving tremendous sport on 12-20lb boat gear or uptide rods. There are two species of hound found around our coast, both are members of the shark family, these being the starry smooth-hound which is easily identified as it has a smattering of white dots or "stars" down it's back hence the name. The other is the common smooth-hound which has no markings on it's back and despite it's name is actually the least common of the two.
Both can be found over the same inshore and offshore habitats, often over tidal flats, off estuary mouths and in shallow bays with sandy, muddy or mixed bottoms .Offshore they are typically found around submerged banks and similar features where these sharks may rally in large numbers feeding on hermit crab, shore crab and other crustaceans with the bigger fish also taking squid and small fish.
These fish can both grow up to around 30lb in weight but fish between the 7-15lb mark are more common with a fish over 20lb being a good specimen but they are still caught fairly often. Smooth-hound travel in packs so it's not unusual to have three or four hooked up and fighting at the same time which often leads to the "am I over or under " dance as you move around the boat to stay in touch with the fish and can provide hectic sport while the pack stays in the area.
As mentioned light 12-20lb boat rods or uptide rods coupled with 7000 or 7500 size reels loaded with 20-25lb mono provide the best sport to catch smooth-hound with hermit or peeler crab being the best baits to use but they can also be caught on whole squid but not in as many numbers. Again the running ledger rig is all that is required, smooth-hound seem to prefer a longer hook length of around 60" made from 40-60lb mono and ending in a pair of 4/0 pennel mounted hooks, stepping up to 6/0 if using squid. Bites are easy to spot as they usually involve the rod bending in half and the angler wondering if he's hooked a passing submarine, so if your not actually holding the rod make sure it's tied to the rail as it'll be pulled in before you can grab it.
The boat and shore records are beaten most years but never claimed, the anglers instead preferring to return the fish rather than kill it to claim a record. But as the WFSA now accept claims from photo's, witness statements, certified scales and measurements these record weights will soon increase.
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