Author: Terra Firma Tackle
Pacific Angel Sharks
Pacific Angel Sharks (Squatina Californica) are an unusual shaped shark that is uncommon is most of its range. Easily distinguished from any other shark species in California by its flattened body and wide “wings”. These fish can be found from Central California to Baja and are actually numerous throughout their range despite being rarely caught on hook and line. They feed on or near the bottom and bear live young like other members of the family. Quite large and heavy, approaching 6’ in length and nearly 100lbs, they are usually seen as a welcome bonus for the landbased angler due to their excellent table fare.
Angel, Carpet Shark, Angel Ray, Angle Shark
Angel Shark are hard to target specifically, but tactics that work for larger bottom dwelling game fish like halibut and rays are good starting points. Finbait is preferred, with herring, smelt, perch and even croakers all being good options, especially when fished alive. Sardines however are hard to beat when it comes to angel shark bait. Stomach contents of harvested fish seem to indicate that they feed a lot on mackerel, smelts and other nearshore baitfish.
Angel Sharkks are usually not hard fighters, but occasionally one will be hooked that has a bad attitude and is capable of testing the anglers tackle. The fight is usually slow, dogging runs and bottom hugging mostly. 40lb tackle is more than adequate for angel shark fishing and 20lb line is more sporting.
From the surf, casting rigs like the Loop Rig, Pulley Rig, or even the basic Carolina/Fishfinder rig will all work. While Angel sharks do have quite formidable dental equipment, their teeth are more designed for holding and puncturing prey than for slicing. This, coupled with their penchant for live baits, means that they are best targeted with monofilament leaders, such as Bullbuster Mono! From the pier slidebaiting is a viable option and using weighted non-return sliders is a good idea to get the bait down as fast as possible. A favorite bait from the pier is a live herring on a light fluorocarbon leader (60-80lb). These fish do tend to be a little line shy and more fish will definitely be caught on lighter leaders than on heavy or stiff terminal gear.
Angel Sharks are uncommon all along the Southern California coast, but Orange County and LA County tend to hold more fish than other places. Look for areas of sand beaches, preferably adjacent to jetties or submerged structure as these areas provide the soft substrate the angel sharks like as well as bait holding areas.
Summer is the best bet for these fish. Fish around the grunion runs and on big tide swings and be prepared. There seems to be a week or two every year when a bunch of these fish will be hooked at once, probably coinciding with a spawning event.
Thanks for reading! For more information and rigs for targeting these fish please check out our own website at TerraFirmaTackle.com!
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