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Species Profile: Spiny Dogfish (Squalus Acanthias)

Author: Terra Firma Tackle

The Spiny Dogfish

Species Info:

                The Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is a relatively small member of the dogfish family and is common along the shoreline in most of its rather cosmopolitan range. These fish can be found in nearly every ocean and can be particularly abundant in California when conditions align. 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 feet in length, they are quite spunky and give a nice fight on lighter tackle.

Spiny Dogfish Caught For Us To Eat


                Spurr Dog, Pinback, Rock Salmon, Dogshark, Dogfish


                Pinbacks can be targeted from both the pier and the surf, but the majority of these small sharks will be caught incidentally on the piers. 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 dogfish bait. They have been known to take ghost shrimp, sand crabs, and even worms as well. They often arrive in schools and consume nearly everything offered!

                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 gamefish, however like most of the smaller sharks, they are more often than not caught on heavier tackle intended for other sharks.

Spiny Dogfish On The Pier

                From the surf rigs like the Loop Rig, Pulley Rig, or even the basic Carolina/Fishfinder rig are all good options. On piers most Pinbacks will be caught while slidebaiting. Pinbacks definitely have sharp teeth, but not so sharp that wire becomes a requirement. Occasionally one may get bit off, but for the most part this is a rare occurrence. Remember that they have small mouths and expect to miss many bites when fishing bigger hooks or baits. A telltale sign that a pinback bit and missed is small bite marks in the bait, indicating a toothy critter took a taste but no other signs of the strike were apparent.

Pier Fishing (Spiny Dogfish)


                Pinbacks can be common all along the Southern California coast, but LA County and Ventura County tend to hold more fish than other places. They show up at both structure filled beaches as well as sand flats, with no apparent rhyme or reason as to their schooling behavior.


                Pinbacks can be completely absent the entire year, or can show up in droves at any time. They seem to swim through more often in the winter, but there have been splendid runs of them as well in the summer time. Usually when one is found several others are fast behind!

Pier Spiny Dogfish

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