Brown Smoothhound Shark

Species: Mustelus henlei; from the Latin word mustelus (weasel colored) and henlei referring to Professor J. Henle, a 19th Century biologist.

Alternate Names: Sand shark, mud shark, paloma, or dogfish.

Identification: Similar to the leopard shark and gray smoothhound except that the first dorsal is further ahead on top of body, equidistant between origin of pelvic and pectoral fins. Their coloring is red-brown or bronze above, silvery below.

Size: Length to 3.1 feet; most caught off piers are under two feet.

Range: From the Gulf of California to Humboldt Bay.

Habitat: Found in bays and sandy-beach areas.

Piers: Extremely common at San Francisco Bay piers; one of the most numerous fish at some piers. Best bets: Fort Baker Pier, Angel Island Pier, San Mateo Bridge Pier, Port View Park Pier -- Oakland, Candlestick Point Pier, and all piers along the San Francisco waterfront.

Bait and Tackle: Will hit almost any bait although squid is the best! Fish with medium tackle, size 4 to 2/0 hooks. If possible, fish at night.

Food Value: A mild flavored flesh suited to several methods of cooking. The best method is probably grilled. It does need to be cleaned properly and kept cool before cooking.

Comments: Although most smoothhound sharks are thrown back, they are a fine meal when prepared properly.