Scyliorhinus canicula - Lesser Spotted Dogfish

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Elasmobranchii - Order: Carcharhiniformes - Family: Scyliorhinidae

Dogfish - head on view

The lesser spotted dogfish, more usually referred to simply as the dogfish, is a member of the shark family. (The greater spotted dogfish, a much larger but otherwise very similar fish, is more commonly known as the nursehound.) The skin of a dogfish is very rough and can cause abrasions if you do not use a soft rag when handling them while removing the hook.

Dogfish can be encountered in very shallow water, such as when beach fishing; however, it is most common to find them at depths of around 40 to 60m. They are bottom feeders and eat a lot of molluscs, crustaceans and slow-moving bottom-dwelling fish (such as small flatfish). They feed mainly by scent rather than sight, and so anglers exploit this scavenging characteristic by using fresh, oily fish baits or cocktails of fish strips and worms.

Lesser spotted dogfish - side view

Most lesser spotted dogfish weight less than 1kg (2lb), although the Welsh rod-caught record, caught off Mumbles (South Wales) in 1987 weighed nearly 4 lb (approx. 1.8kg).

When you encounter these fish the difficult thing is to catch anything but dogfish; they are not noted for their fighting qualities... on the other hand, a dogfish or two is better than a blank day.

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