Stephen Colgan reports on his capture of a record breaking 21lb 3oz smooth hound – the current record with the ISFC is just under 17lb…

People: Paulie, Myself
Duration: 10pm to 4am
Tide: On the Rise
Weather: Perfect!
Bait: Crab, Mackerel
Rigs: Pennel Pulley Rigs
Location: South East Wexford
Results: Dogs, Flounder, Tope, and of course Hounds

Well I had a competition on during the week and to be honest I wasn’t satisfied with scratching in close for flounders etc. I decided I wanted something that packs a little more punch and gave Paul a ring to see if he was up for a Tope and Hound session. We arrived at the venue and fished it from low water to high. It was clear to see from the very first cast we were in for a good night’s angling as the fish were attacking baits with in minutes of landing in the water. First we said we would try for hounds, but when trying for hounds we hit Bass.  This is inevitable when hound fishing this time of year because both species have the same taste for big juicy peeler crabs. All the Bass went back due to the ban being on, only fair at this time of year. When darkness fell and the tide started pushing heavy, we knew we would have a good chance of a smoothhound or a decent tope due to the flat calm seas and mild weather. It was perfect in fairness…

About an hour into the dark I set up my second rod for tope (Which always makes me slightly nervous as you just never know what is swimming out in front of you and what monster could be attached to your rod in the coming hours). My other rod continued fishing for the hounds. It wasn’t long before the hounds came on the feed and we had numerous small ones along with the Bass. It was feeding frenzy between the hounds and Bass – it was whoever got to the bait first out there. This always makes for good fishing as you are never idle. I decided to try my luck out far. What happened next I think will keep me smiling for a long long time. The rod took a thump and I quickly picked it up and waited for the fish to bite again. Eventually it did so and I struck into the fish, only to realise that what was on the other end wasn’t small as it did an instant run which took a decent amount line. I was nervous as hell as I thought it was a tope after picking up my hound rig which was mono, and not the steel trace which was being fished on my other rod in close. As it got closer it kept making numerous runs from left to right and the longer it took to land, the more I was shaking.

Stephen Colgan and his 21lb 3oz smoothhound. A record breaking fish, unofficial but by no means unworthy
Stephen Colgan and his 21lb 3oz smoothhound. A record breaking fish, unofficial but by no means unworthy

After about 10 minutes or so, the fish was in sight and I really thought it as a tope from the size of it. But when my good friend Paul tailed the fish and brought it to shore the marks were noticeable along its back. It was a monster hound and I was lost for words. I previously got tags from Inland Fisheries Ireland, along with a measure etc, so we worked quickly to get all the measurements, sex, weight of the fish before releasing it back. But when we went to weigh it, I nearly fell down, it came in at a staggering 21lb 3oz.    My PB smashed, hammered etc etc. A quick photo was taken and the fish swam off healthy and strong into the darkness to fight again another day. I hope its caught sometime in the near future to give another angler the same smile that has been on my face all day. This fish is our Catch of the Week

I had a quick look on the list for the heaviest hound that has been landed from the shore in Irish waters, and its 16.58lbs, which also made me smile. It’s always nice to beat an Irish Record, but as my scales was not Certified, I doubt that it will count, which is a shame, but I’m still thrilled to have caught that amazing fish. And I was even curious enough that I got a lend of a certified scales, added weights to a bag until it read 21lb 3oz on the Certified scales, then swapped the scales over to my own, and it read the same…

Also Paul hit a nice tope a few hours later, was also tagged and released, weighing in @ 15lb 5oz. All in all, a serious session and one I will remember for a long long time!!
Stephen Colgan

Paul and his tope
Paul and his tope

Another photo of Stephen and his incredible smoothhound
Another photo of Stephen and his incredible smoothhound