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Bullhead, Long Spined, Taurulus bubalis

Irish Record Fish: not recognised
Caught: not reported
Boat Specimen: not recognised
Shore Specimen: not recognised
Photo Credit:

Robert Patzner

Introduction: Another small curiosity with a remarkably large mouth for the size of fish and an appetite to match its mouth, the Long Spined Bullhead (to give the most common species its full name) is a small shallow water fish often found in harbours and rock pools.  It can reach perhaps 6 inches (15 cms) in length but usually it is no bigger than your thumb.  They do possess a truly massive mouth and appetite so don't be surprised if you find one wriggling on a 3/0 or 4/0 hook!  Despite its appearance it is harmless - I have seen someone cut one to pieces before removing the hook on the basis that it was a type of poisonous scorpionfish.  These fish are not venomous.  And even if it were, there is no call for that kind of behaviour...  For the record several other species have been recorded in Irish waters, including the European Bullhead and also the Norway Bullhead.

Boat tactics: These are tiny fish, and hardly sought after by anglers.  This is an accidental bycatch, mostly from shore.  The only requirement is small hooks baited with small organic bait, typically rag and lug worm.

Shore tactics: Commonly encountered off the shore, especially over rough ground and in harbours with decent weed cover, these are small fish, defenceless bar its bit of spiky armour plating around the head.