South Shields angler reels in plaudits after catching rare shark

Richard Oliver shows off the smooth-hound he caught from South Shields Pier.
Richard Oliver shows off the smooth-hound he caught from South Shields Pier.

An angler reeled in the plaudits after catching a rare breed of shark rarely found in North-East waters.

Richard Oliver caught a smooth-hound while fishing from South Shields Pier, and thinks it is just the second time the fish has been caught in the region.

Richard Oliver shows off the sea bass he caught from South Shields Pier.

Richard Oliver shows off the sea bass he caught from South Shields Pier.

Smooth-hounds are more common in southern England, with the small shark species also known by the alternative name of gummy shark.

Richard, a member of South Shields Angling Club, was unable to weigh the fish after catching it, but estimates it weighed between 6lb and 7lb.

The 27-year-old, from South Shields, said: “Smooth-hounds don’t tend to get caught in the North East, so I think it will be some kind of record.

“It’s a member of the shark family, and it’s almost unheard of for them to be caught here. They don’t get caught in these waters at all.

Everyone was in shock, and I was over the moon with it

Richard Oliver

“To the best of my knowledge, I think there has only ever been one recorded in the North East, and that was at Seaham.”

Richard was fishing with friends from the angling club at South Shields Pier when he made the unusual catch.

He capped off a fine day by catching a sea bass, which is also rarely found in North-East waters, particularly from South Shields Pier.

Richard added: “Everybody on the pier was surprised I had caught the smooth-hound, because it’s so rare.

“I’m in South Shields Angling Club, and most of the other members are older than me, but none of them had ever seen it here. It was a nice one to have.

“We normally have to go down to Hull, Skegness and places like that to catch them, as they’re just not here.

“Lots of people came over to see it and congratulate me.

“Everyone was in shock, and I was over the moon with it.

“On the same day, I also caught a sea bass, which is also quite rare, from the pier. You don’t see them very often.”

Smooth-hounds are found in the east Atlantic Ocean, and can grow to as much as 4ft and 25lbs.

In the UK, they are mostly found in the south and west, but their range is increasing.

They are usually in shallow water, rarely more than 100ft deep, and have recently been found more often in Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Most anglers, including Richard Oliver, release smooth-hounds back into the water after catching them.

Unlike most members of the shark family, smooth-hounds do not mainly feed on fish, instead searching the sea-bed for crabs, lobsters and shellfish.

Their lack of teeth leads to them often being called gummy sharks.