Smooth Hound

Smooth-Hound (Mustelas asterias)

Irish Record   12.02 kilo taken on 25.07.2020 by John Hughes at Wicklow.

Specimen 9.92lb, or 4.5 kilo, or 103cm total length for length based specimen


Smooth Hound are a small shark species. The under-belly is cream or white leading to grey flanks and grey back. Many have white spots along the grey; some do not, although all it has been proven and documented that all Irish Smooth Hound are the “Starry” species. There are two large dorsal fins; the second fin is further back near the tail and slightly smaller than the first. They have prominent eyes, a pointed snout and crushing plates rather than teeth. These have evolved to deal with crustaceans such as crab, lobster and shrimp. There are five gill slits on either side.

This example has no spots along the flanks

Whereas the white spots or "stars" are plain to see here, both examples are Starry Smooth hound

Where to catch

It was thought that we had both “Starry” and “Common” Smooth hound in Irish waters, but recent genetic studies have proven that our Irish specie is entirely the “Starry” variety, despite some specimens being completely devoid of the white, “starry” spots and markings. They prefer the fast flowing, relatively shallow waters of the south-east inshore venues, feeding over sand-shingle and broken ground, searching the sea bed and seeking out crustaceans. Their range is from the further-most south-eastern tip of Ireland and finishes just south of Dundalk, where the geography of the sea bed alters and seems to be un-suitable for “Smoothies”.

Fish over specimen weight can be taken from boat or shore, with many notable catch reports from Wicklow and Arklow, Cahore, Greystones, Rosslare and Kilmore Quay.

Irish Specimen Smooth-hound taken at Wicklow

When to catch

In general, Smooth hound arrive along our south-eastern shoreline towards the end of May, and the season will be in full swing through June and July, tapering off towards the autumn months.



Although fish baits and calamari squid will account for some fish taken through the season, the prime bait has got to be peeler crab, fresh or frozen. They will even take “softies” and “crispies” without any problem, so if bait supplies are low, you can usually get away with second grade crabs if needs be.

Fresh Peeler Crab...Unbeatable

Standard crab bait, in this case, whipped and secured onto a circle hook


Or hard-backs can sort out the larger specimens


Simple down-tiding at anchor using a short flowing trace will pick up any feeding Smooth hound in the area. 50lb b/s snood will deal with the rasping, bony mouthparts that easily crush crab shells and use a very sharp hook, size 3/0 Aberdeen style are fine. Up-tiding also works very well, casting up-tide and away from the boat, with a grip-lead to hold position. Fish will usually hook themselves with this method, pulling against the grip-lead to set the hook. Use half a large crab, or a whole small crab, whipped onto the hook with fine elastic thread. At times, Smooth hound have an amazing ability to remove bait without hooking up!

Simple uptide rigs work well for Smooth Hound

Smooth Hound article click here

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