Posts Tagged ‘Smooth hound’

Sea Fishing Wexford: Dogfish Central

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Ballymoney strand is a beach that I have never fished. Ironically, most of the beaches south of Arklow I rarely set foot on until the race to catch smooth hound picked up in the early 1980′s. In those days venues such as Morriscastle, Tinnebearna and Blackwater produced amazing catches of ray, spurdog, smooth hound, bass and the odd tope to those anglers who commenced fishing at dusk. Today, while the area can still produce quality bass catches most bites, if they do materialise will come from dogfish.

Evening sea fishing off Ballymoney strand, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Digging juicy fat black lugworm the day before I placed them wrapped in newspaper in the fridge to toughen up. The secret with lug when gathering is to separate whole ones from split by utilising two buckets. For some reason also two day old lugworm appears better at attracting fish, with dabs especially partial to sticky black gutless wraps.


Anyhow, back to the fishing. Meeting up as planned with the two David’s and coarse fisher extraordinaire Robbie on Ballymoney strand we set up to the left and commenced fishing round 20.00 pm. Armed with lug, rag and crab, smooth hound were the prime target with bass our secondary option. A light south easterly breeze created a bit of movement in the water which raised our hopes for bass. From the get go rod tops nodded that slow dogfish lean and so it transpired. Doggies homed in on whatever bait adorned the hooks. By half ten although both rods were kept busy I called it a night, catching and releasing dogfish not my ideal cup of tea. On the plus side, I’ve got my seasonal shore fishing hand in………..

Ennereilly, August 2013

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

As the sun dipped down behind the low mud cliffs we cast our rag and mackerel baited twin hook paternosters to points ranging from 30 out to 100 meters. Instantly my Daiwa surf pole dipped the line dropping slack, rod in hand running backwards while reeling to connect, tap, tap, slack, a flattie for certain. Half a minute later a fat flounder knocking a pound flaps up the sand and shingle bank, nice start.

Evening fishing off Ennereilly, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Lip hooked and returned within jig time my second rod registers interest, leaning to disengage the gripper a dull weight heralds a possible doggie double. Out of the surf pops a juvenile tope about the size of an average dogfish plus a pup hound. Now that’s a first, I’ve caught pup tope the length of your palm but not this size weighing between 1.5 – 2.0 lb, strange.

David Murphy Senior with an average smooth hound.

Next in was fishing companion David Murphy with an average hound for the area giving the usual heave ho bite and customary run around. After that fishing settled down to a slow dogfish with occasional pup hound or tope double until between 11.00pm and midnight everything went quite. Casting out a mackerel bait produced nothing, time to go home. Yes the evening was nice, a warm southerly breeze creating a fishy roll on the sea, good company and a few fish beached. Smooth hound, flounder, dogfish, TOPE? Sounds good but you have to read between the lines………and I’m a glass half full person, believe me.

See also: Fishing marks, Ennereilly.


An Educational Evening at Cullenstown

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Spent a lazy but informative Saturday evening on Cullenstown strand, Co. Wexford. Earlier while digging black lug at Duncannon I was regularly approached by interested observers eager to see what “that bloke is doing” burrowing away on the beach with his fork and bucket on a hot and sunny afternoon when every other sane person is paddling, playing with the kids, or just sunning themselves. Happy to give the spontaneous marine biology lesson, to a man, woman, and child the people were genuinely fascinated at the size of the worms, their life cycle, and how they engage within their sandy, tidal environment.

Digging black lugworm on Duncannon strand, Co. Wexford.

After a post getting the breath back meal and pint in the Strand Bar plan A was put into operation and the car was pointed towards Cullenstown, if plan B had been followed a 9.5 lb bass could have been mine, well done to a certain Frank Flanagan. As it transpired the primary decision paid off in spades due to the people I met, the varied conversations, shared information, and of particular interest a third party perspective on the current state of Irish sea angling both locally and nationally.

Paddy Barnwell of the Kilmore SAC with a typical South Wexford smooth hound.

On a practical level the main entrance to Cullenstown estuary has moved a few hundred yards east of the parking area creating an open ended lagoon off the main flow which still utilises the old entrance, an evening rising tide pushing in quite strongly. Ground fishing the entrance was hard work due to floating weed, however moving onto the beach west of the bar resulted in a few hounds being caught to crab and lug baits as night drew in. To bass lure fisherman Anthony and match angler Paddy Barnwell, nice to meet and spend time with you the discussions across a range of sea angling and marine issues were interesting and informative. Until we meet again tight lines………..


Sea Fishing in Ireland, Hound Dogs and Shifting Baselines

Friday, July 6th, 2012

They’re taking shy tonight, dogfish tend to do that in very calm conditions, just playing with the bait, signaled by a trembling of the rod top with an occasional slight nod. For the umpteenth time I pick up the rod, immediately as this bite ain’t going to develop, no more struggling with a deep hooked LSD wrapping its sandpaper hide around my hand. Leaning into the fish all hell breaks loose, zzzzz goes the drag, rod butt into the groin, rod tip in a hoop, instant transformation, smooth hound and a good one.

Surprise smooth hound from a Co. Wicklow strand, tempted by lugworm.

This lad really had a go, trademark lateral runs supplemented with head shaking and a last ditch run for the hills. Yes, the hound actually took off back out to sea which is very unusual, mostly they fight in a zig zag fashion parallel with the shore. Giving line eventually the fish was beached whence the hook promptly fell out, quick photo and away, excitement over, re cast and it’s back to dogfish central with a few small dab thrown in for good measure.

Waiting for that hound to bite, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

I remember catching my first hound off Tinnebearna back in 1985, in those days we targeted them through May and early June along the east Wexford beaches. Smooth hound were the new kids on the block and everybody wanted to catch one, now they appear to be ten a penny as most definitely they’re range has extended, probably filling the void created by over fishing of other key species, unfortunately a sad fact of modern marine life. Not to put a damper on it but the beach that I fished last night reflects the theory of shifting marine baselines very clearly. It’s not a question of glass half full, the trajectory is downwards. In 2007 the mark would produce mixed bags of flounder, dab, codling, gurnard, bass, dogfish, and smooth hound. Today the clean fish have markedly reduced in size and numbers or just plain disappeared. Sad but true……..

Sea Fishing off County Wicklow, A Tope Day

Monday, May 21st, 2012

The inshore grounds off Wicklow Head are renowned for their ability to deliver consistent animal fishing. Tope, bull huss, thornback ray, and smooth hound start to appear in May and inhabit the shallow banks and deeper channels well into October. One such person well capable of putting anglers on to these fish is International angler/skipper Kit Dunne who runs the charter vessel Lisin 1, a 35′ offshore 105, out of Wicklow Harbour, which is located 25 miles south of Dublin.

A thornback ray caught off Wicklow Head aboard skipper Kit Dunnes charter boat Lisin 1.

With the seemingly interminable north east winds finally easing and shifting south so producing a mild day allied to the strengthening tides heading towards 4 meters, Lisin 1 anchored and squid/mackerel baited rigs were dropped into the flooding tide where very quickly dogfish began to show along with an odd smooth hound and ray. Over slack water at the top of the tide fishing slowed only to really pick up as the ebb commenced.

A fine bull huss from the inshore grounds off Wicklow Head, Ireland.

Myles Howell was first in with a nice tope followed by a couple of cracking huss, these pug nosed doggies mightn’t put up much of a resistance but their size and tenacity always makes for a welcome sight when they break surface. Down tiding using single hook flowing traces was the main method employed although Kit Dunne up tided at the peak of the flow landing a nice smooth hound. In fact given the relatively shallow depths fished ranging from 5 – 10 fathoms allied to the strong tides encountered in these parts fishing up tide is a useful skill to learn and employ.

A nice Wicklow Bay, Ireland, tope.

In the last hour and a half the doggies eased off, a sure sign of bigger fish in the vicinity and a number of tope were caught supplemented by a huss or two. At days end the party had landed 7 tope, 6 bull huss, 3 hounds, 2 ray, and over 100 dogs, and it only mid May, on this form the summer season looks very promising.

For a day out on Lisin 1 contact skipper Kit Dunne through his website or phone mobile +353 (0)87 6832179, a full days charter costs €400.00.

Surf Casting in Co. Wexford, Southern Comfort

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Finally after weeks of north easterlies the wind shifted and blew southerly, air temperatures rose, creamy white capped waves rolled up the strand, and the air so filled with ozone that you could taste it. A low four meter tide had me on the beach at 13.00pm, my task to dig six dozen large, fleshy, black lug, before meeting up with Joe Carley of South East Bait Supplies to purchase a dozen peelers, when targeting surf bass you need top grade fresh bait. As it turned out Joe kindly drove my order to me, his traps being placed nearby, now that is service and much appreciated, thanks Joe. As is the form we talked fishing and again thumbs up to Joe re little nuggets offered which helped in deciding my final choice of venue.

Stormy evening, surf casting for bass in south Wexford, Ireland.

Having time to spare after digging bait, it not high water until 20.00pm, I drove around and sussed out a number of venues. Low tide is a great time to carry out this exercise as numerous tell tale features are exposed which help in deducing how a particular mark may fish. Today one thing was clear, a big tide combined with a strong southerly breeze has the potential to push weed close in, this factor ultimately deciding my fishing destination. On arrival, with a good rolling sea pushing a single wave up the incline and terns and gannets dipping and diving about 60 meters out my casting distance was decided. A low grey, menacing sky promised rain as I made my first cast, sea fishing season 2012 had begun.

A lone Co. Wexford, Ireland smooth hound, the first of 2012.

Tightening up against the gripper I stood up to prepare my second rig when bang the rod tip thumped forward hard just once. A characteristic schoolie bite and so it transpired, other than an hour long period over high water shoals of juvenile bass averaging a kilo marauded up and down the surf line, I lost count of how many that I caught but it was easily a dozen, all scissor hooked and returned. At least I was busy and in any other circumstances a two pound fish would be well appreciated, so lets get real “the session was fun and productive“. As light closed in my rod hooped to a smoothie which tore off parallel with the strand, allied to a large plump flounder beached earlier my first sea outing of the year most definitely set a bench mark for the season ahead, a double figure haul with some quality fish and it’s not even mid May, bring it on…..

New Angling Charter Vessel for Wicklow

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Co. Wicklow now caters for deep sea anglers thanks to a new service operated by experienced Irish international angler/skipper Kit Dunne. Based in Wicklow harbour approximately 25 miles south of Dublin, Wicklow Boat Charters enables access to fishing grounds north and south of Wicklow Head to include the Arklow, Horse shoe, and Codling banks, with key seasonal species to include tope, bull huss, ray, smooth hound, and spurdog.

Clients aboard the Wicklow Boat Charters vessel LISIN 1.

Bass, pollack, wrasse, dab, gurnard, whiting, and mackerel also feature in summer and autumn catches with best natural baits being crab, fresh mackerel, lugworm, and mussel, along with frozen squid. Depths can range from 30 feet (five fathoms) to upwards of 80 feet (13 fathoms plus). Tides in the vicinity of Wicklow head are strong requiring at least a pound of lead if fishing down tide, up tiding being a serious optional method.

LISIN 1 skipper Kit Dunne.

LISIN 1 is a very clean and well maintained 10.5 meter (35′) Offshore 105, with spacious deck and cabin space. Fast modern, fully licenced, insured, and equipped with all the relevant navigation, fish finding, and safety equipment, LISIN 1 is perfect for a club, school, or college charter.

Stern view of Wicklow Boat Charters deep sea angling vessel LISIN 1, moored at Wicklow harbour, Ireland.

Having taken a spin out with Kit over last week end and being familiar with the inshore grounds north of Wicklow head, I am really looking forward to fishing the various banks mentioned above this coming summer. To date they have been inaccessible to me due to tidal conditions and distance, now with Kits’ new service there will be no obstacle.

To arrange a booking contact skipper Kit Dunne:


Autumn Night Fishing in Wicklow.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Armed with fresh lugworm and frozen peeler crab I picked up Diego as arranged and headed towards a favourite local mark. The strong south easterly winds had backed around to the south and weakened, however the evening was damp and remained that way with a permanent mist in the air. Muggy, the air temperature being 17 degrees, if it was not for the rain you could have fished in your shirt sleeves. Hitting the beach as light was fading, our first baits entered the water around 19.30pm about two hours into the flood.

Diego Leccardi holds a fit Co. Wicklow smooth hound.

Having cast about sixty meters my rig had barely settled on the bottom when I received a serious slack line bite. Running up the beach I did not make contact for at least fifteen meters, then the rod buckled over. Could it be a bass? No, immediately the fish started swimming hard parallel with the shoreline, every so often turning on a sixpence and doubling back, a hound and no mistake. So it proved thrashing in the surf before Diego did the honours.

Baiting up, night fishing off a County Wicklow strand.

“That’s it for the night” said I to Diego, a good fish on the first cast always spells a lean session, and so it proved. Yes we caught fish practically every cast including many double headers, but they were all undersize. Whiting, rockling, flounder, and dab took the baits with abandon, plenty of them but all under 30 cms. We fished on till 11.00pm then called it a night. An enjoyable evening, here’s to a good session after bass on the south Wexford beaches next weekend.

Running with the Hounds.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Beach fishing for smooth hounds on a particular mark that I frequent is all or nothing, long periods of inactivity punctuated by moments of magical mayhem. Not having visited the location in over a month and with bait left over from the night before, the decision was a no brainer. Six bells saw me setting up as the evening sun started to cast long shadows over the shingle from the low cliffs behind. Armed with big yellow tail lug and peeler crab, I cast twin two hook paternosters sixty meters out into the falling neap tide and waited.

Popping out a bait for smooth hounds, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

An hour went by and not a touch. Up to last year rods would be kept nodding at this venue, with species like flounder and codling filling in the gaps between the hounds and occasional bass. This season they have been noticeable by their absence, although bass do show when there is a roll on the sea from the south. The quietness though enhances the moment when a hound makes its presence felt, and how. I’m looking at the motionless rod tip, momentarily it quivers then bam over it goes, no need to strike just lean in the opposite direction, fish on. Running hard swimming left then right, quick silver turns a smoothie for sure. Eventually beached, in the four to five pound range, boy do these fish fight, defying their size, real athletes.

An average Wicklow smoothie tempted by lugworm.

Fishing two rods and varying the distance, what the hell this time they’re both going out to the same place. Ten minutes later bang over goes the right, a better fish running hard towards the shallow reef. A crash behind me, tripod in a heap and my second rod heading towards the tide. Rod in hand hooped over I pick up number two and wedge the reel behind  a now collapsed tripod leg, the reel line taught and zig zagging, my gear is going nowhere get this fish in quick. Hound number one hits the beach, now for number two. Still on and pulling, this is some craic, everything now under control. Number two hits the surf line, both are bigger 5/6 lbs, quick double snap then away, out go new baits, the pack has moved on.

A brace of Wicklow smooth hounds, one to lug and the other on crab.

That was it, another fifteen minutes passed with only the waves lapping on the beach breaking the silence. Time to go, the mark has delivered. Stopping to take photos, even for that minute loses a fish or two for sure, but hey it’s not a competition, it’s about capturing the moment. Three fish of that calibre, magical mayhem, quality fishing.

Sea Fishing in Wicklow, Hound Fest.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Entries in my fishing diary place July as the month when smooth hound hit the local beaches in earnest. A smash and grab raider fond of crustaceans and worm baits, they average 4 – 5 lb weight off the north Wicklow coastline, however many are landed above the Irish specimen weight of seven pounds every season. A tip off from David Murphy that they were in had me picking up some rag and lug from Joe Byrne in the Courtown Angling Centre, before meeting up with David and heading for a favourite mark.

A specimen Wicklow smooth hound for David Murphy.

We commenced fishing at eight pm to coincide with high water. A warm evening under a low grey sky was punctuated by an occasional light north east breeze, which ruffled the calm sea creating a single small wave on the beach. Conditions were ideal for smooth hound and dogfish too as we were to find out. An hour in with light fading the first tentative knocks to our rag and lug baited hooks resulted in small dogfish being hauled ashore, more often than not two at a time. Painful fishing in my book, “I hate dogfish“, but you have to put up with it.

An average Wicklow smooth hound.

Then everything went quite, it was now dark and our rods were silhouetted against the night sky. Boom, my rod arched over as the hound grabbed the bait and ran stage right. It’s always the case, when dogfish stop biting there is something worthwhile in the vicinity. After the usual left/right running battle the fish thrashed in the surf where David grabbed the leader and hauled it ashore. A quick photo and away. Not a moment too soon as David’s rod nearly bounced out of the stand.

Greyhounds of the sea, a male smooth hound from a north Wicklow strand.

Quite obviously a good fish which when eventually subdued easily broke the seven pound barrier, a Wicklow specimen. The excitement lasted ten minutes then they were gone, typical of smooth hounds who tend to travel in packs. Fishing on for an hour the dogfish returned which was our call to leave. A nice evening on the beach with a successful outcome.