We return to Holyhead this coming April, amongst the numerous species to be caught we will also see some large packs of spurdog with a good few pack tope too. The spurdog is a popular specie to catch during early spring, putting up a spirited fight with sizes regularly into the mid teens with a few breaking records at 20lb plus.
Although packs move through most of the year, spurdog fishing generally kicks off around March time for big specimens with the best fishing to be had the following two months. Plenty of spurdogs are still around right through to October and beyond, but numbers start to decline over winter with the packs harder to locate. These are hard fighting little sharks can often be caught two at a time, three if you’re brave enough.
It is fairly easy to identify a spurdog; the upper body is dark grey with white spots usually present. The under-side is white, the most noticeable feature being a protruding spine at the front of each of the 2 dorsal fins. A shark that can be found in large packs, usually of the same age sex and size, the spurdog is a highly migratory shark moving from one area to another when looking for food.
Early season, the northern edge of Holyhead deep is available to us on all tides, thus delivering an abundance of spurdogs on many trips. Fishing can be tough, 200ft of water, a strong tide and 2lb of lead for the majority of time at anchor is tough, but the rewards make it worthwhile.
This specie is mainly a fish eater, gorging itself on mackerel, herring, whiting and pouting etc. I have also found a good squid bait also to be extremely tempting. They are known to be a mid water to bottom feeders, hence why decades gone by one of the most fruitful methods of catching spurdogs was simply jigging with white feathers. More normally acquainted to cod fishing, white feathers were often the rig of choice for many anglers wanting to target the spurdogs in great numbers.
There are only a couple rigs that you need to be looking at when in the Deeps, a basic 2 hook paternoster or a single hook ledger. The 2 hook rig made from 150lb mono body, and 2/0 to 5/0 hooks with snoods being 80lb wire, – ideal when looking to target spurdogs with razor sharp teeth. I’m not sold on the need for attractors on these rigs when generally targeting big fish as I think a well presented bait oozing scent does just the job. However for spurdogs, large luminous Muppets positioned just above the hook can be deadly in Holyhead Deep.
We’re often joined early season by Laura from Wobby Shark Savers with a plan to tag and release all the sharks caught to assist in various scientific studies. The exercise involves measuring and weighing of the spurdogs in the hope of recapture and then new information on their travels and growth.
Advice is given out on the correct handling of sharks if landed, with the supporting of the tail and stomach for weighing and photographs etc.