There are three species of dogfish of interest to anglers fishing British waters —the lesser spotted, greater spotted (also called bull huss) and the spurdog.
As the dogfish is so widely distributed, every angler is bound to catch one sooner or later. The easiest way of extracting the hook without coming to harm is to either subdue the dogfish with a blow on the head or to hold the tail and fold it towards the fish’s head, and so immobilizing the fish while the hook is extracted.
The greater spotted dogfish, also known as the nursehound or bull huss. Differs from the lesser spotted kind in that, as the name suggests, it has bigger, but fewer, black spots on the reddishbrown upper half of the body.
Shore anglers often make large catches of the lesser spotted dogfish as it hunts in packs and can be caught in numbers. If three hooks are used, three fish at one time can sometimes be taken. The bait should not be too large for this fish as it has a smallish mouth. On a strong tide a running trace of about 7ft is recommended, while on a slack tide the paternoster rig pays off.
The bite is slow and bouncy, and very distinctive. Do not strike until the Fourth or fifth pull in order to ensure that bait and hook have been swallowed. The dogfish is slowmoving and sluggish, and indeed seems incapable of achieving any real speed. Once hooked, this fish’s fight is unmistakable. There is a backward pull, followed by a move towards the boat, and this sequence is repeated all the way to the surface. Remember that very often the angler is convinced that he has hooked the fish only to find that it has merely been holding the bait, which it releases on being hauled up.
The greater spotted dogfish, by virtue of its greater size, puts up a much better fight than the smaller variety, although the bite is very similar. Once the strike is made, however, the similarity ends. On a strong tide this fish is capable of a short run, and takes full advantage of the flow for this. The jaws are lined with sharp teeth, which the fish often uses to chafe through the nylon hook length and so gain its freedom.
Reliable baits include whole small squid and large fish baits. A whole mackerel, intended for tope, presents no problem to the huss. The strike should be delayed to give ample time for the bait to be swallowed, for, as with the smaller dogfish, the great spotted kind has the nasty habit of just hanging on and then letting go at the surface before it is within reach of the gaff.
If this happens, lower the bait once more to the seabed for it is not uncommon for the same fish to attack the bait a second time.