Bull Huss – Fishing and ID Guide

This post represents the first in a series of elasmobranch identification and fishing guides that will be posted by the SSTP. These guides aim to give anglers information about the biology of particular shark species that can be caught around the coast of Scotland and some pointers on targeting sharks from both the boat and shore.

This feature will also allow you to show off your best catch as we invite anglers to submit pictures for each article! This week we will kick off the feature with the Bull Huss, see below to find out how you can get your angling pictures incorporated into the article. Remember to keep checking www.tagsharks.com to make sure you don’t miss your chance to show off your PB shark, skate or ray!

#1 Bull Huss

Huss

Huss LSD

Biology

Other Names: Scyliorhinus stellaris, Nursehound, Greater Spotted Catshark

Description: Huss are a large catshark with a sandy brown dorsal surface and varying degrees of dark brown banding and white ventral surface. Bull Huss have many large dark spots across the body (Huss spots are generally larger and often less numerous than the spots of a Lesser Spotted Dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula)). The nasal flaps of Bull Huss are small and do not reach the mouth as shown in the illustration above. Bull Huss Map

Maximum Size: 170cm

Habitat: Bull Huss are found over a range of sea beds though tend to prefer rough rocky and weedy coastal areas.

Depth: Surface to 125m

Distribution: Most common around the south west coast of Scotland.

Feeding: Bull Huss are opportunistic predators and scavengers and will feed on crustaceans, molluscs, fish and squid.

Biology: Both male and female fish mature at 4-5 years old at around at 77-79cm long. Bull Huss are oviparous (egg-laying); females lay 9-41 eggs each year. Bull Huss eggs (commonly referred to as “mermaid’s purses”) are rectangular and around 10-13cm long by 3.5cm wide. Egg cases are dark brown and have filaments known as tendrils at each corner, this allows eggs to become entangled and attached to fixed features on the sea bed such as seaweed fronds. Eggs are laid along the coast between March and October, after 10-12 months fully formed 10-16cm long Bull Huss pups hatch and begin to feed actively. Bull Huss may live for up to 20 years.

Caution: Bull Huss have extremely abrasive skin and a tendency to wrap around hands or arms during unhooking causing grazing. Bull Huss also have strong jaws with many small sharp teeth. More information on safely handling sharks is available in our code of best practice.

Current Fishery: Few targeted fisheries exist though they are often taken in mixed trawls as by-catch. Bull Huss are vulnerable to overfishing due to their fragmented distribution.

Conservation Status: Near threatened (listed by the IUCN).

GFAC Size: 80cm

Tagging: The minimum SSTP tagging size for Bull Huss is 100cm (7.0lb). Further information on safely tagging sharks is available here. If you are interested in tagging the fish you catch please send an email to contact@ssacn.org.

Targeting Bull Huss in Scotland

[flagallery gid=9 name=”Bull Huss”]

 

Tackle: From the boat a 12-20lb class rod and suitable reel loaded with 30lb braid is sufficient and will usually cope with Tope that may pick up baits intended for Bull Huss. From the shore a sturdy 6-8oz shore rod paired with a strong multiplier or fixed spool reel loaded with 30-40lb monofilament is often chosen to cope with the rough ground Bull Huss inhabit. An alternative to using monofilament mainline from the shore is to use a reel loaded with 50-80lb braid for added power when pulling through snags and dense kelp, this will give more sensitive bite detection and often reduces tackle loses over rough ground.

End Tackle: Bull Huss have sharp teeth and very abrasive skin and so require a heavy monofilament hook length: a 80-150lb monofilament hook length attached a single size 5/0 or 6/0 bronze barbless hook is recommended. In some cases it is advisable to use a 100-150lb wire biting trace if Tope are likely to pick up the bait. From the boat, simple flowing traces and running ledgers are sufficient; from the shore simple pulley rigs are very popular as they are strong and less likely to be lost to snags in rough ground.

Bait: Fish and squid baits are most popular when targeting Huss. Large cocktails of mackerel, sandeel, whiting and squid are extremely effective. Other popular baits include herring, cuttlefish, bluey and lamprey.

Tactics: Bull Huss are often found over extremely rough ground and as such tackle losses may be high, this can be minimised by using rotten bottom links to attach leads and by ensuring terminal tackle is strong and in good condition. Many Bull Huss marks also hold large numbers of Lesser Spotted Dogfish, in some cases Dogfish can be avoided by using large durable baits such as squid or cuttlefish though at times you may have to fish through the Dogfish to find the Bull Huss!

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