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Nurse Hound, Scyliorhinus stellaris

Irish Record Fish: 23.75 lbs 10.77 kgs
Caught: Kenmare Bay 1998
Boat Specimen: 16 lbs  7.25 kgs
Shore Specimen: 10 lbs  4.54 kgs

Photo Credit:

Colin Brett with his first Bull Huss, around 7 lbs, taken on sandeel from Rossanrubble in Co Mayo in brilliant sunshine at mid water....  July 2004

Introduction: If the East coast is the mecca for Smooth Hounds, the west coast is where you go to look for big Bull Huss aka Greater Spotted Dogfish.  Curiously its proper name is the Nurse Hound.  This small shark is found hunting over rough ground.  Another native  shark, although more likely to be encountered during the summer, and whilst smaller than the Tope, it can grow to well > 20 lbs (8kgs).  As the name implies, it grows far larger than the Lesser Spotted Dogfish. With Bull Huss you can fish for them and Conger Eel with the same rig, same baits, over the same marks.  Conger normally take in slack water whereas Huss prefer a flooding tide.

Boat tactics:  Given their relatively small size, you can readily drop down to 12 lbs when fishing for Bull Huss off a boat.  You can not however dispense with the wire trace for whilst their skin is abrasive, and their teeth strong, it is the rough or foul ground over which they are caught that is likely to do you line the most damage. The normal bait is a mackerel fillet or strip attached to a 4/0 hook.  This give you a shot at any Conger Eels lying in the area, and has the added benefit of tempting any large Cod, Ling, Coalies or Pollack... or Thornback Rays which often inhabit the same mixed ground / channels, moving in with the tides.

Shore tactics: Bull Huss are typically caught from shore in deeper waters.  They will come in close to any harbours and piers, especially at night, but typically prefer the open sea and rough ground, arriving off our shores in late spring.  They don't fight as well as a Tope, but Bull Huss and Conger Eels can offer you big species fishing in seemingly small species water, often close to shore.  Take care when fishing off sea rocks.