PHIL Browning and Mark Branson had a smooth hound bonanza when they fished the Thames estuary.

Browning took his friend out on his new American sports fishing boat out of Wallasea’s Essex Marina to a mark on the south-east Maplin Sands.

The first cast of the session on the last of the flood tide produced a 20lb-plus hound for Branson, which broke free on the surface, while Browning landed a hound of around 16lb.

There was a lull until the ebb tide produced at least three hours of good sport which saw the pair land a dozen more smooth hounds weighing double figures up to bests around the 18lb to 20lb mark.

They were initially fishing in 20 feet of water using light uptide rods, 4/0 circle hooks and peeler crab bait, but switched tackle and bait to catch four bass, numerous dogfish, a dab and an eel.

A 20-minute stop in the mouth of the River Crouch on the return journey produced a thornback ray in the region of 12lb.

Browning took his boat “Fire Fly” out again the following day with his partner Sarah on board.

They found smooth hounds in number but only had a couple of double-figure fish to a best of just over 14lb. But they did have a couple of bass up to 3.5lbs.