Minehead – where have all the Smoothhounds gone?

Wow! how can two trips just a couple of weeks apart be so different? May / June / July are usually top times for the smooth hounds in the Bristol Channel, when we can happily expect to see them in good numbers. Last month when I started my peeler crab verses hardback crab test was no exception, and we had plenty. This trip, and not only was the weather decidedly un-summerlike but the smoothhounds seemed to have largely moved on – presumably to pastures new.

I had been hoping to continue the peeler / hardback test and had bought peeler crabs and caught a bucket of hardback crabs as well. Sadly it wasn’t to be and I struggled to catch anything except the ever ravenous dogfish. No smoothhounds bothered my crab baits on this occasion and the vast majority of the crabs experienced only a short period of captivity before being released at the end of the day to swim free…

Mike did prove that there were some hounds around by catching 3 and then proceeded (as usual) to show just how good (or lucky) a fisherman he is by pulling in, a nice thornback ray, a spotted ray, a 3-bearded rockling and a couple of doggies for good measure… I only just managed to save myself from a “dogfish only day” by landing a nice spotted-ray. phew…! The surprising thing with both the spotted rays we caught was that they came whilst out deeper – my one took a fillet of herring. Surprising really as usually if fishing for spotted ray we’d be close inshore on some of the near-shore sandbanks and fishing with sandeel.

2016-06-26 Minehead - Spotted Ray

That’s fishing I suppose. Can’t catch loads of fish all the time… even if it would be nice to.

The continuation of my crab comparison will have wait until next trip, when hopefully the hounds will be around in greater numbers. Wouldn’t mind a few more ray next time too…