Alternate Names: Cow shark and broadnose sevengill shark.
Identification: Easily recognized by its seven pairs of gill slits. Their coloring is reported to typically be olive-brown to muddy gray in San Francisco Bay although pale silvery gray to reddish brown in Humboldt Bay. Whatever the color, they have dark spotting on the back and fins.
Size: Length to 10 feet; most caught off of piers are under five feet.
Range: From the Gulf of California to southeastern Alaska; most common from San Francisco north.
Habitat: Common in San Francisco and Humboldt bays although typically in the deeper parts of the bays. Also found offshore but again in deeper waters, especially those in southern California.
Piers: Occasionally caught at San Francisco Bay piers which adjoin deep water although some of the younger (smaller) fish come into shallower water. Best bets: Candlestick Point Pier, Oyster Point Pier, San Mateo Pier, Berkeley Pier, Angel Island Pier and Elephant Rock Pier.
Bait and Tackle: Will hit almost any bait although live fish seem to be the best! Fish with medium to heavy tackle, size 1/0 to 6/0 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: Cow sharks are a primitive type of shark. Whenever a sevengill shark is caught at a pier it is usually the topic of conversation. They are fairly uncommon at piers and are about the largest shark most pier anglers will encounter. A 7-foot-long sevengill shark, estimated to weigh 180-185 pounds, was landed at the Cayucos Pier in November of 1998. Although far more common to bays, I have heard of a few sevengill sharks caught at southern California piers -- Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and Newport Beach.