(Squalus Acanthiai)

Squalus is a genus of dogfish, commonly known as spurdogs, There are two main features which determine the species, one of which is the two extremely sharp spines present on the back, at the front of each of the two dorsal fins. To the unwary angler these spines can inflict a nasty cut that may require medical attention. When handling, the spurdog should be held by the neck of the tail with one hand and supported by the underside of the throat with the other. This will stop the spurdog from twisting its tail around the arm or wrist of the angler. The other aid to identification is the absence of the anal fin present on other members of the dogfish group. Looking very much like a small shark, it lacks the third eyelid or membrane, used to cover or clean the eyeball, present in the shark family group. Spurdogs are also sometimes mistaken for tope. The spurdog has a dreary, pale, greyish back and sides, with a pale-white underside. The long and slender body is built for speed and it travels in packs when hunting prey, usually at a mid-water depth. The mouth contains a set of sharp teeth built for ripping and shredding its prey.

Where To Find Them

Present throughout the British Isles, spurdogs are caught in larger numbers from the western coastline. Generally it is more likely to be caught from the boat by anglers fishing for other species. The spurdog prefers the deeper water marks with clean sandy bottoms. However, a few are caught from the shore, and the majority of these have been females, probably because the female of the species moves into shallower waters to expel its young during the months of August and October.

When To Find Them

May through to November, sometimes even as late December. Boats out of Swansea and Rhyl catch a lot of spurdogs, while Scottish sea lochs are also renowned for their sport.

Natural Food and Best Baits

Any small fish, including soles, sprats, sardines, squids and sandeels. Herring are one of the top spurdog baits. A large chunk of garfish flesh can also work well.

UK Records

Shore: 16lb 12oz

Boat: 21lb 3oz