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spurdog picture - note how the handhold is well ahead of the spur under the dorsal fin!

Spurdog, Squalus acanthias

Irish Record Fish: 21 lbs 9.53 kgs
Caught: Kenmare Bay 1998
Boat Specimen: 12 lbs  5.44 kgs
Shore Specimen: 10 lbs  4.54 kgs
Photo Credit:

Introduction: The Spurdog is so called for the sharp and dangerous spurs to be found at the base of the main dorsal fins.  Note how the fish in the picture is being carefully handled.  The new Irish record stands just 21 lbs (9.5 kgs) and was caught off a boat in Kenmare Bay, a piece of water that has produced several new species records in recent years.  The Spurdog is commercially fished and the population in the North Atlantic has been recently documented as having collapsed on more than one occassion due to its slow breeding cycle and excessive commercial fishing so catch & release is recommended as essential to this species survival.

Boat tactics: In terms of tackle and tactics, you can seek Spurdogs as you would Bull Huss. Given their relatively small size, you can readily drop down to 12 lbs tackle and rod when fishing for them 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. This is not to say that they can not be caught over sand or mud - several large specimens have been reported from boating operating in Cork Harbour, albeit it is a massive harbour! The normal bait is a mackerel cone, even a full mackerel, attached to a 6/0 hook. More recently, in 2003 and especially in the summer of 2004, we have seen excellent reports of specimen Spur Dogs from the charter boats operating out of northern Ireland and into the north Irish sea.

Shore tactics: Spurdogs could be caught from shore but you need deep water.  They will move inshore at night, but they are not as common as previously... one possible spurdog mark is White Bay in Cork Harbour.