Mustelus Californicus



Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore

18 - 30 pounds

46" - 64"

Gray Smooth-hound

Gray Smooth-hound (Mustelus californicus) Fish Description

The Gray Smooth-hound is a shark that is relatively small and slender in stature. It has a pointed snout and big oval eyes with quite notable spiracle behind each. Its second dorsal fin is quite large as well, and its caudal fin distinctly asymmetrical.

The coloring on the Gray Smooth-hound ranges from gray to brown, fading lighter ventrally. It is not spotted or striped in any way. Some albino Gray Smooth-hound often sighted as well. Its teeth are asymmetrical and blunt.


Size & Diet

The female Gray Smooth-hound grows larger compared to the males. It can reach up 5 feet and 4 inches, while the male matures at a maximum of 4 feet and 1 inch. The biggest one caught on record weighed almost 2 pounds. A typical Gray Smooth-hound can live up to 9 years old. The Gray Smooth-hound normally feeds on ghost shrimp, innkeeper worms, as well as small fish such as midshipmen and herring. It is also known to consume crabs such as cancridae and grapsidae, squids, and isopods.


Interesting Facts about Gray Smooth-hound

  • The Gray Smooth-hound is known to swim solitarily or in schools with related species, most often Leopard Sharks.
  • The Gray Smooth-hound is a prey to large bony fish species including the Blacktip Shark, the Dusky Shark and the Great Hammerhead Shark.
  • The Gray Smooth-hound is a viviparous species, its embryos are nourished by yolk-sac placenta, and their litters, ranging from two to five live pups, normally measure 8 to 12 inches at birth.
  • With its relatively low birth rate, the Gray Smooth-hound population may be declining, though this fish species has not been thoroughly studied or monitored yet.
  • The Gray Smooth-hound is not considered an important commercial fish species. It is sold fresh, frozen, and smoked, but only on a limited basis.
  • As human food source, the Gray Smooth-hound’s flesh is considered mild in flavor and suited to many types of cooking. It is particularly tasty when grilled.
  • In Mexico, fishing for the Gray Smooth-hound and other sharks is regulated, the retention of caught sharks in Mexican waters having been banned.
  • According to the International Shark Attack File, the Gray Smooth-hound has not been reported to harm any humans.


Fishing Technique: How to Catch Gray Smooth-hound

Fishing for the Gray Smooth-hound is best during summers. Anglers usually target fishing for them from late after to early evening, around areas of sandy beaches, with jetties or submerged structures that have soft substrate that this fish species prefers. As soon as you see one, especially in big tides, normally you’ll find a few more close behind as it is a schooling fish.

For gear, a medium tackle with a size 2 to 4 hook will do. This fish species has a small mouth, so a smaller hook and bait will be more successful. Sardines are a good choice for smooth-hound bait, but you can’t go wrong with sand crabs, worms, and ghost shrimp.

The Gray Smooth-hound is a fighter, so a 10-20lb line will be good for this game fish. Anglers can even go for lighter lines for better sport.

Rigs like the basic Carolina/Fishfinder rig, Loop Rig, or Pulley Rig will work fine on this game fish.


Habitat and Distribution

The Gray Smooth-hound inhabits both the inshore and offshore on the continental shelves of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, preferring subtropical waters. It is commonly sighted on bays and rocky shores at depths of 6 to 150 feet.

It ranges from northern California to the Gulf of California.  As a pier catch it is often found south of Dana Point, particularly Crystal Pier, Oceanside Pier, Imperial Beach Pier, Ocean Beach, Belmont Pier, Ventura Pier and Santa Monica Pier. This fish species is also found in the waters of Mazatlan, Mexico to Cape Mendocino, and commonly sighted in the south of Point Conception.