Both the Greater Weever and the Lesser Weever are capable of inflicting a sharp and painful sting from the spiny rays of the first dorsal fin. What the books often don't tell you is that there are another set of spikes on the side of the gill plates, which can also inflict a painful sting. The spiny rays of the Greater Weevers black coloured dorsal fin have canals containing the powerful venom to which this small fish owes its awesome reputation.

This spiky fin can cause a nasty wound accompanied by extremely painful inflammation because the poison attacks the blood corpuscles. The "rough guide" advice is to let the wound bleed freely, and if as is usual, you have been stung in the hand, to put your hand in fresh sea water for a few minutes. The salt water seems to dissipate the poison easing the pain and inflammation.

The usual advice is to put your hand or foot in saline water, as hot as you can possibly stand, without it scalding and allow to soak for a few minutes. If after such treatment it still remains inflamed and painful, then you should seek medical advice. Which is not a bad idea anyway.

Anglers sometimes catch weavers by accident or trap them in the hook of a sandeel scrape(a good reason for wearing a thick rubber glove!). Then there are anglers who fish for weavers deliberately, because the specimen weight in competitions is very favourable and believe it or not, the taste of the flesh is said to be very palatable, resembling that of mackerel, but drier.

If you do catch one, handle it with great care, a towel folded over several times to provide a thick cushioning will suffice to grip the weever to remove your hook, then if you have any sense, a shake of the towel over the side will return the fish to the sea.

Should you be unfortunate enough to be stung, the pain will usually wear off after a few hours, but it could well be bad enough to spoil your day out.

Folklore in the West country where Weevers are often prolific, is that the pain and inflammation will last the ebb and flow of a tide.

In shallow water, weevers have a nasty habit of burying themselves up to their eyes in loose sand and the angler or holidaymaker who stands on one with bare feet will get the full load of venom and often a nasty wound to go with it. Fortunately, popular beaches have a lot of noise and water disturbance, so any low lying weevers will usually be scared off. It is the more remote and desolate beaches frequented by energetic anglers and the more adventurous beach people where weevers will be most numerous. If you do enjoy the sun, wearing shorts and fishing the surf. Wear an old pair of trainers with the toes cut out like the locals do, shuffle your way through the sand. This will make the Weevers move before your foot comes anywhere near them.

Statistics. Greater Weever. Scientific name: Trachinus draco. Maximum length 16 inches. Average length 8 -9 inches. Specimen weight 1lb 4oz.