Large hogfish are increasingly rare to find although an occasional specimen of 10 pounds can be caught.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A HOGFISH
Although this species is a member of the wrasse family and not actually a snapper, they more closely resemble a member of the snapper family in looks. Hog snapper have a laterally compressed body with a high back arch and a large, slightly lunate tail. The first three spines in the dorsal fin are much longer than the rest of the dorsal spines and trail behind the dorsal fin. The name ‘hogfish’ is derived from the species’ elongated, hog-like snout that is used to dig around the bottom substrate for food and prey. The jaws of the hogfish are very strong for the species’ size and contain protruding canine teeth that are used for crushing hard shell prey such as mollusks and crabs.The color patterns of the hogfish vary considerably depending on the specimen’s sex, age and habitat. Most often, the fish will be a combination of white and red and a purple or maroon band will run from the snout of the fish back along the top ridge to the dorsal fin. Males will often have a brighter color pattern than the females and young fish may be pale gray or reddish brown. The caudal and pectoral fins may have a bright yellow outer edge while the inner margins are colored with a dark red pattern.
WHERE TO CATCH HOGFISH
The hogfish can be found primarily in Florida and Bermuda but ranges as far north as South Carolina and as far west as the Gulf of Mexico. It is commonly found over open bottoms and corals reefs at depths ranging from 10-100 feet. This species prefers rocky and reef bottoms with hard sand such as patch reefs. Hogfish are widely distributed along the edges of reefs and will form small groups, particularly in areas where gorgonian corals are found. The larger specimens can be found in the middle reef sections while smaller fish tend to patrol the outside portion of the patch reefs. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish:
BAYS AND ESTUARIES JETTIES AND BREAKWATERS
NIGHT FISHING ROCKY SEA FLOOR
COASTAL WATERS MAN-MADE STRUCTURES
REEFS, WRECKS, AND SHOALS
HOW TO CATCH HOGFISH
Most anglers targeting hog snapper utilize light bottom tackle and will anchor over hard bottom. The only baits that will entice hog snapper are shellfish such as crab, shrimp, squid or pieces of spiny lobster. An excellent eating fish, many anglers consider the hogfish to be the best eating fish on the reef. The following are fishing methods used to catch this fish:
DRIFT FISHING STILL FISHING
HOGFISH LURES, TACKLE & BAIT
The following are lures, tackle or bait that can be used to catch this fish:
CUT BAIT SHRIMP
SALTWATER LIVE BAIT SQUID