| Shovelnose Guitarfish
Species: Rhinobatos productus from the Latin rhin (meaning shark with a rough skin), Greek batis (meaning a ray or skate), and the Latin product (meaning a lengthened form) in reference to its long shape and form.
Alternate Names: Shovelnose shark.
Identification: The nose is long and pointed and the disk is longer than it is wide. The tail is long and thin. Color is sandy brown above, white below. (They also have the "most soulful, woebegone eyes you have ever seen." This last reference is from the book Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast by the eminent marine biologist Dr. Robin Milton Love, a book that every angler who fishes California's coast should read.)
Size: Reported to 5 1/2 feet in length and over 40 pounds. Typical size at piers is from two to four feet.
Range: From the Gulf of California to San Francisco but rare north of Monterey Bay.
Habitat: Found on sandy beaches and in bays.
Piers: One of the most common rays at all piers south of Pismo Beach -- and one of the favorites due to their size and the delicious meat which can be cut from the tail. Best bets: Ocean Beach Pier, Crystal Pier, Oceanside Pier, San Clemente Pier, Redondo Beach Pier and the Goleta Pier.
Bait and Tackle: Since this is one of the larger fish most pier anglers will encounter, you should use at least medium saltwater tackle, twenty pound test line, and size 2 to 4/0 hooks. Guitarfish will hit almost any bait, but live bait -- anchovies, smelt or small shinerperch -- seems to work best. Ghost shrimp and squid are also excellent baits. Bait should be fished as close to the bottom as possible and in shallow water, just past the breakers. Most common in summer and fall.
Comments: Remember to bring a net or pier gaff! Unfortunately, some anglers simply discard these rays even though, in taste and texture, the meat is very much like that of scallops which sell for several dollars a pound. However, more and more people are learning how to prepare this fish properly.