The word was out. Big smoothhounds to 18lb were being caught from Hampshire’s Sandy Point at Hayling Island, so Southsea angler Steve Cullen wanted one.
He never dreamt he would break the record with a 28lb 10oz beauty, especially as the fishing session didn’t start too well.
“There were about 10 anglers fishing the mark and they were all getting some fish except me. I was getting annoyed as I just couldn’t seem to connect with any fish,’ explained Steve.
“I had a couple of good bites and missed them, but did land several bass just over 2lb so I was still chuffed, although I wasn’t expecting my last bite just as the tide started ripping back in.”
His rod top slammed down, then as he lifted into the fish the line went slack.
“I had to reel like a madman in order to catch up with it. I finally picked up the weight of the fish and hit it hard to set the hook, and all went solid,” he said.
“I thought I’d got snagged, then the fish started little runs and banging its head. There was a huge weight, but it wasn’t running like I’d expect it to. After about 10 minutes of pumping and winding the fish was about 15 yards out and hugging the bottom, not running like smuts do, just making lunges and peeling off five yards or so.”
Steve thought he had hooked a huge ray, but as it got closer it proved to be a smoothhound – but he couldn’t judge the size.
“I had weed around the leader knot, so had to walk back and get my mates to tail it in for me. When I saw it on the beach I couldn’t believe it because it was an absolute monster,” said Steve.
Grabbing his Salter Electro Samson scales, he weighed the female fish at 28lb 10oz.
“I was shocked and could hardly believe my eyes. We took pictures, let it recover in the water, took some more photos, and then let her swim away strongly,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of double-figure smuts, but this dwarfs all of them. This was a brilliantly conditioned female, with a huge girth and an enormous head.”
The record stands at 19lb 8oz 6dr, a fish caught in 1997.
Steve tackled the fish with a Zziplex HSM rod, Daiwa 7HT Mag with 25lb line, long pulley rig and an 80lb low diameter Grauvell Teklon Gold leader. Bait was half a crab on a size 3/0 Sakuma hook.