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Species Profile: Shovelnose Guitarfish (Rhinobatos Productus)

Author: Terra Firma Tackle

Species Profile: Shovelnose Guitarfish (Rhinobatos productus)

Species Info:

The Shovelnose Guitarfish (Rhinobatos productus) is of only three members of the guitarfishes found in California and is easily the largest of the three species. Easily distinguished from its relatives by its lack of patterned skin and larger size in addition to its more elongated and triangular body. These fish can be found from Central California to Baja and are numerous throughout their range. They feed on or near the bottom and bear live young like other members of the family. Spirited fighters and reaching up to 7 feet in length these fish are sought after not only for their sport qualities, but also their excellent table fare.


 Shovelnose, Shovelhead, Shovel, Taco Shark, Mexican Halibut


 Shovelnose can be targeting with equal effectiveness from both the pier and the surf. If looking for the bigger grade fish over a few feet in length, the sides of the pier just behind the breakers are the best choice. Finbait is a good starting point, herring, smelt, perch and even croakers are good options, especially when fished alive.  Sardines however are hard to beat when it comes to shovelnose bait. Stomach contents of harvested fish seem to indicate that they feed a lot on swimmer crabs as well, but a lack of steady supply renders these difficult to utilize as a hookbait.

 Shovelnose are not drag burning fish, but they are indeed strong fighters capable of testing the anglers tackle. The fight is usually slow, dogging runs and bottom hugging with occasional bursts of speed. 40lb tackle is more than adequate for shovelnose fishing and 20lb line is more sporting.

 From the surf rigs like the Loop Rig, Pulley Rig, or even the basic Carolina/Fishfinder rig are all good options. There is no need for wire when shovelnose fishing, but in the event that another shark takes the bait be prepared for a cut off. 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.


 Shovelnose are common 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 shovelnose 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. Usually when one is found several others are fast behind!

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