Thursday, December 18, 2014

Most Wanted : Starry Smoothhound.

I did intend to head down the South West coast of Scotland and have a go at catching this species of shark from the shore this year with my mate Martin but we just never got round to it unfortunately.

Starry smoothhounds come inshore to feed mainly on crabs which is normally the bait anglers targeting them opt to use.

The starry smoothhound is virtually identical to its cousin the common smoothhound except the common smoothhound lacks the "starry" markings on its back. These are variable however and some starry smoothhounds lack these which poses an identification problem because there is no reliable method of distinguishing between the two species in live specimens apart from these white spots.

Spots the difference? Starry top and common bottom (or is it?).

The distribution of both however means that virtually all of the smoothhounds caught in UK waters are almost certainly the starry variety. A good illustration of the very low probability of coming into contact with common smoothhounds is the findings of a recent study into smoothhounds in the North East Atlantic. Over four hundred smoothhounds from around the UK were examined by survey scientists. Initially the sharks were all identified visually with the majority thought to be starry smoothhounds and only ten percent thought to be common smoothhounds. When their DNA was tested however it turned out that every single one of them was in fact a starry smouthhound. Presumably the misidentifications were due to a lack of dorsal spots and if marine biologists can get it wrong what chance has your average angler got?!

Interesting identification issues, species distributions and scientific studies aside, next year I will definitely be heading down to the South West coast of Scotland to have a go for them. I'm not sure if I'll try from the shore or go out in local skipper Spike's boat. Targeting them from afloat offers an opportunity to use lighter tackle and as they are renowned as one of the hardest fighting shark species perhaps this would be a more enjoyable approach to take. Hopefully Martin or some of my other fishing mates will be able to join me.

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. In writing, at least a tide if you don’t have one off the boat by July.

    1. Ok mate. Not tempted in joining me in said boat?