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Species Profile: Horn Shark (Heterodontus Fancisci)

Author: Terra Firma Tackle

The Horn Shark

Species Info:

                Horn Sharks (Heterodontus francisci) is a member of the bullhead shark family, and the only member that occurs in California. These fish can be found from Northern California to Baja and are numerous throughout their range. They feed on or near the bottom and unlike requiem sharks, these sharks lay eggs. The eggs are corkscrew shaped and contain a single developing embryo. These fish are easily identifiable by their wide and tall heads, unique body shape and prominent horns at the base of each dorsal fin. These are a smaller shark, only reaching about 4 feet in length, and for the most part they remain close to the bottom and are slow moving.


                Hillbilly Shark, Pignose Shark, Olympic Shark, Porn Shark


                Horn Sharks can be caught from both the pier and the surf, but the majority of these small sharks will be caught incidentally on piers near rocky bottom and deep water. This is one species of shark that responds well to invertebrate baits such as shrimp, squid, or crab.  Sardines however are hard to beat when it comes to bottom bait and these sharks will not turn down a finbait offering if they are in the mood.

                These slow, lazy sharks are fighters at all, but they often wedge themselves in rocks or kelp and make it difficult to pull them out. 10 to 20lb lineis plenty to catch these miniature bottom dwellers, but as mentioned before, many will be caught on baits intended for larger game.

                From the surf rigs like the Loop Rig, Pulley Rig, or even the basic Carolina/Fishfinder rig are all good options. On the pier most of these fish will be caught on slid baits intended for other species, no need to target them directly, if they are in the area they will find the bait. There is no need for wire with horn sharks, but in the event that another shark takes the bait be prepared for a cut off. These fish can and do eat very large baits intended for other species and don’t see to by shy when it comes to heavy or stiff terminal gear. It is nothing short of amazing the size of baits these fish will swallow down given enough time


                Horn Sharks are common all along the Southern California coast, and anywhere with a rocky bottom or kelp line can hold these odd sharks. South Orange County and SD County both hold enormous amounts of these fish, sometimes bordering on plague proportions.


                Horn Sharks bite all year, unfortunately. No luck escaping their bait stealing behavior there….

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