Just because it’s winter and cold on the Outer Banks, doesn’t mean fishing has stopped in our region. There several species of fish that do winter here.
Tactics to catch them is similar to other species but you need to add a little patience. Cold water slows everything down.
One of those winter visitors is the Spiny Dogfish and is also known as smooth Dogfish. These fish are a species of sharks. This species usually begins to show up when the water temperatures get colder – somewhere around fifty degrees. Although, they can be found during all seasons. They can mostly be found in deep sloughs along the beach but I have had some of my best luck catching them on the end of one of the ocean piers.
Seven or eight foot rods – light medium to medium set up will work best. Twenty pound or greater line strength is the size of choice. Bottom two hook rigs or a standard Carolina rig work best. Hooks should be “J” type with the size being medium #2 or #1. I prefer to use circle hooks in the same size to aid in their release. Use a pyramid sinker with just enough weight to hold the bottom. On Carolina rigs, I use barrel type sinkers. On these rigs, the current will move your rig frequently, so careful monitoring is needed to keep the rig in place.
Any type of fresh cut bait should work well. Just enough to cover the hook is all you need. Wave action and cold water will help deteriorate and soften the bait quickly, so it’s important to keep the bait fresh.
Spiny dogfish can usually be found close in the sloughs and in deeper water near the end of the fishing piers. We usually do not find them in the sounds. So you should stay with the Atlantic Ocean waters.
Many anglers look to spiny dogfish as a trash fish or waste of time. Don’t believe this for a minute. If you can get out on the surf or pier and hook up with one of these bruisers, they will give you everything you can handle.
Photos are fine but the quicker you return them back into the water the better chance for survival.
One key point to remember when fishing for this species or many others is that exhausting any fish during a catch can reduce the chance of a successful survival. So my advice is to bring them in quickly. And release them carefully to be caught again.
Our saltwater fishery does not have an unlimited number of fish. Take only what you can use today. Careful release will improve the chance that the fish will survive and be there to be caught again.
Until next time- Tightlines. Capt. Tony