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    Gray Smooth hound Shark

    The grey smooth-hound shark (Mustelus californicus) is an excellent food and sport fish of local people along the California coast. It is also referred to as dogfish, paloma, sand shark or gray shark. This common shark is distributed from Cape Mendocino, northern California to Mazatlan in the southeastern Gulf of California, Eastern Central Pacific. It is found in waters over the continental shelves and is very common in bays and rocky shores within 6-150 feet depths. It is solitary but often found among schools of leopard sharks.

    It has an elongate and slender body with triangular mouth. The snout is comparatively long and flattened. The body color is brown to dark gray above and whitish below. Sometimes sporadic darker brown spots are seen on dorsal side. It has two tall and broadly triangular dorsal fins, of which, first dorsal fin originates over the pectoral free tip. Pectoral fins broad with anterior margins while caudal fin is strongly asymmetrical and falcate. Ventral lobe of caudal fin is moderately developed while the terminal lobe is well developed.

    The male grows up to 46 inches in length while female can grow up to 64 inches in length. Its life span ranges between 6 and 9 years. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 2.5 years while females at 2-3 years.

    The gray Smooth hound Shark prefers water temperature, specific gravity and pH which ranges from 59 to 720F, 1.020 to 1.025 and 8.0 to 8.4 respectively. It is a bottom dwelling predators and its diet consists of worms, clams, crabs, ghost shrimp, octopus and small fish such as herring, midshipmen and porichthys. It is preyed upon by larger sharks including dusky shark, blacktip shark and great hammerhead shark.

    The gray Smooth hound Shark makes seasonal migrations in northeastern Gulf of California during the autumn and winter months. Elkhorn Slough and Anaheim Bay, California play an important nursery area for this species. In Elkhorn Slough spawning occurs from January to May while in Anaheim Bay, spawning takes place from March to June. In the Upper Gulf of California, spawning occurs from March to June.

    The gray smoothhound shark is viviparous and it gives birth to 2-5 pups per litter with 10-12 months of gestation period. At birth the young measures 8-12 inches in length.

    Summer season is the best season for catching this fish. At this time it is common in north-central California and southern California. The grey smooth-hound shark is very common in bays or sandy beach areas in south of point Conception. It is mostly caught from Imperial Beach Pier, Ocean Beach, Crystal Pier, Oceanside Pier, Belmont Pier, Santa Monica Pier and Ventura Pier.

    It is caught using medium tackle with a size 2 to 4/0 hook. Best baits for grey smooth-hound shark are live or frozen anchovies, squid, mackerel or clams. Late afternoon to early evening hours are the best time to catch this fish. They are most active at night and at this time it moves to and fro for searching foods.

    This is a fun shark to catch especially when you hook up over 3 feet. Light tackle makes it more challenging but if you are a shark hunter like myself then you have ad this attitude shark to your bucket list. Hope to see you on the sand!
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