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Species Profile: Smooth Hound Shark (Mustelus Californicus)

Author: Terra Firma Tackle

Species Profile: Smooth Hound Shark (Mustelus Californicus)

Species Info:

  The Gray Smooth-Hound (Mustelus californicus) is a relatively small member of the dogfish family and is common along the shoreline and in the bays in most of its range. These fish can be found from Northern 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. While they are a smaller shark, only reaching about 4-5 feet in length, they are quite spunky and give a nice fight on lighter tackle.


 Smoothy, Dogfish, Hound Shark, Sand Shark


   Smooth Hounds can be targeted from both the pier and the surf, but the majority of these small sharks will be caught incidentally inside the harbors and bays. 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 smoothhound bait. They have been known to take ghost shrimp, sand crabs, and even worms as well.

  These small sharks are not drag burning fish, but they are indeed strong fighters capable of quite the scrap on light tackle. 10 to 20lb line is plenty to catch these miniature game fish, and quite a few are caught by the surf perch brigade each summer on line much lighter than that.

 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 smoothie fishing, but in the event that another shark takes the bait be prepared for a cut off. 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. Remember that they have small mouths and expect to miss many bites when fishing bigger hooks or baits.


  Smoothhounds 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 these little dogfish 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!

Thanks for reading! For more information and rigs for targeting these fish please check out our own website at!


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