Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by msteudel, Dec 26, 2003.
got my hopes up too...
About those Dog Sharks.
I recently caught some, for the first time, and unfortunately can't claim to have caught them on the fly, but I have every intention of going back out to fly fish for them.
I had friends in town, people from Texas who like to fish when I'll take them, but don't fish for the year or so in between. Flyfishing then, was out for them. So we headed out with circle hooks and shrimp, and found dog sharks in about 30 feet of water in the south sound. They had a blast. We landed only two, three others bit through the line.
The next week, it happened that my folks were visiting from Iowa. For their visit, I rigged up some heavy leaders and brought some other baits. Over the course of the afternoon, we caught and realeased 15-20 fish. I'm completely convinced I can take one on the fly now, and seek to do so.
Here's some stuff I learned through internet research:
- Most telling: Dogfish populations in puget sound are PLUMMETING. They are now only 1/6 what they were 10 years ago! This is a major concern to me, particularly because I saw no proposed change in WDFW rules for this year, and they must know about the collapse of the species. The main reasons cited in the study - overfishing. As someone mentioned before, dogfish is the primary fish now used in "fish n chips" in England, which is one source of pressure. The second is the APPALLING practice of mutilating the fish before releasing them. This unsportsmanlike behavior is akin to being a salmon snagger in my book. Those two things combined are creating a collapse in the population, and of course, it is being ignored.
- They are a schooling shark, and are called "dog fish" because they hunt in packs. Several times when we caught one, others came up with it! Once, we got a second line down there and got to sight fish that second shark. It was rad.
- I did keep one. (I didn't learn about the challenges that they are facing until after I got home, and did some research on them.) It had taken the circle hook very deeply, and was bleeding badly from the gills. I knew it had little chance of survival, so I quickly bonked it, bled it, and cleaned it immediately, on the spot, and put it in our cooler. I actually just ate some of it last night. I cooked it in a thick, spicy tomato sauce made from scratch, and it was tasty. However, I doubt I'll target them with bait again, because I don't want to risk killing one, and when I get these others on the fly, a safe release shouldn't be a problem.
- They are a long-lived fish. They don't even spawn until they are 15-20 years old, and they can live to be 80-100 years old!
Here are some photos of me with some of the fish we caught and released, please forgive me as I have mentioned that they were not fly-caught, but it bears relevant to this discussion.
(There are a couple more in my gallery if you're interested.)
When I was a kid(which was a very long time ago) they used to fish them out for their livers. Another thing that escapes me is why as I forgot about it over the years. But I have also heard that they are good eating. And most older fishers just thought about them as scrap fish.
A lot of practices have changed over 50 years. What was though a junk fish are not. You young people will have to take it easy on us older fishers as what is known now wasn't known then.
Sorry about the confusion, Roper et al, by renewing this old post, but it was a top quality sighting yesterday, and after reading about their declining numbers in the area, followed by a previous thread here, I thought (as it did) that it might produce some interesting feedback. I know I plan to look upon those dogs in the same light as leprichauns from now on, yesterday at least they seemed to be great indicators for the species I was after. I imagine the next time I see the bay full of cutting fins Ill start drooling on the kitchen floor and grab my silver's gear!
You should truy to get ahold of MauiJim to see if he knows anything about Dogfish in Puget Sound, he might have something to add...
In my opinion, dogfish (and I hate to call them that) are just one of many animals that people have chosen to value less than others. Like carp, it is possible for any of this prejudice to change. People think they're ugly, but as those photos show they are not. They say they are bottom trash eaters, but from my experience they are very efficient pack hunters of baitfish, often right at the surface. They assume they must taste bad, because their anatomy has some differences in how they get rid of uric acid. I caught one in a crab trap, cleaned it properly, soaked the meat in a very weak water/lemon juice solution and it honestly tasted a lot like halibut. As they (and most all sharks, billfish, tuna) have higher mercury levels, eating them often, especially for children is maybe not a good idea.
So to me they're not close to trash. Neither are bonefish, tarpon, chum salmon, carp etc. even though all of them at one time were disparaged for various reasons. I have caught them on flies in sight fishing conditions. It was good. Dogfish, like all less respected animals, should be appreciated for what they are, not what they're not.
Kudos James, everything out there has value whether we understand it or not. Zen and Teeg, look forward to viewing your galleries when I get back in from the fish in a couple hours, beautiful carp and dogfish, respectively!
yeh, dogfish get no respect.... but comparing them with species such as tarpon, bonefish, and chum salmon is comparing apples and oranges. dogfish fight like wet sponges even on the fly.
back on track, most of the surface sightings involving dogfish i have seen are a result of krill on the surface... might explain the good fishing for other species and the lazy feeding behavior.
By the way what is the largest dogfish (shark) caught.....I know they can get towards 4 feet or more...? curious.
According to WDFW the record is 20 1/4 lbs. These sharks are listed as several different kinds ands this is the weight of the Spiny Dogfish. It also listed where it was caught,but with MY LIMITED computer skills I don't have the foggiest how to get it from there to here.
Hey.....that's a shot at me. (MY LIMITED)
I have seen dogsharks very actively and non-lazily pursuing schools of herring in open water, leaving a mass of suspended scales where was once a mass of fish. As for their fighting ability, to each there own. I usually get a pretty good initial run, followed by a lot of line retrieval, kind of like--- bonefish (just not as fast or as long or as strong).
I'll say that those dog sharks we caught didn't fight as well as salmon do, and while the fight wasn't as vigorous as, say, a SRC, they were so much bigger than a SRC, that accounts for a lot - and I love catching big fish!
I'll try for them again, and release them.
I really appreciate all of cascade kid and HotinTotten (and everyone's) good sentiments. One distinction I'd draw between these Dog Sharks and carp (which I also fish for) is that these are indiginous fish. Carp are an invasive species. There is a difference, and while I give carp the respect they deserve as a sportfish, in my mind, all native fish rank even a big higher (that goes for critters like sculpins, too).