What of the most unique-looking offshore bottom fish is the hogfish. However, they are not frequently caught by traditional fishing methods, which makes for a challenge for anglers. The combination of the appearance and eating quality makes them a prized catch. Just what is a hogfish?
Are Hogfish Good To Eat?
The fillets of a hogfish are phenomenal. Seafood lovers describe the meat as sweet, tender, and fine-grained.
When the fish is filleted, the flesh is white in color and can be cooked in various ways, including frying, grilling, baking, or broiling. Simply add your favorite seasonings because the meat will take on flavor well.
Is Hogfish A Type Of Snapper?
The hogfish is not part of the snapper family despite anglers referring to them as hog snapper. Hogs belong to the wrasse family, which includes tautog, cunner, and puddingwife.
Another reason for the familial misrepresentation is that this type of fish lives amongst snapper populations on reefs and rocky ledges. As a result, hogs and snappers can be caught on a single offshore outing.
Why Is Hogfish So Expensive?
The primary reason the fillets of hogs are so expensive is the method by which fishers commercially harvest them.
Unfortunately, hogfish rarely strike baits presented on a hook. Therefore, commercial and recreational fishermen utilize other tactics to catch hogs.
The most widely used method to acquiring hogs is spearfishing. Anglers swim from the boat to reefs well below the surface and shoot the fish with a spear gun.
As a result of the labor-intensive fishing method, the cost to purchase fillets is considerably higher than other bottom fish.
How Do You Identify A Hogfish?
The appearance of a hog is nothing short of amazing between the coloration and long streaming fins.
Each side of the is pink in color with a brown patch from the top of the mouth extending up to the beginning of the dorsal fin.
A key characteristic is the first three spines of the dorsal fin. The spines extend out much farther than the remainder of the dorsal fin.
Look for the yellow pectoral fins in addition to a tail that flairs out at the top and the bottom.
How Big Do Hogs Grow?
The hogfish grows large in size. Fishers generally catch them in the five-pound range, but they do exceed fifteen pounds.
In regards to length, the hog will grow 36 inches long. The combination of size and weight results in a tussle between the fish and the angler when connecting to them with a rod and reel or spearfishing.
What States Have Populations of Hogfish?
Hogs have a small range along the Atlantic coastline. On the southern end, hog’s extend from the Florida Keys up to the state line and up into North Carolina.
Anglers can target hogfish off the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Keep in mind, the reefs and wrecks are well offshore, so you must be equipped with a boat capable of rough seas and long runs.
The best option may be to consider a fishing charter out of major vacation destinations like Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Considerations When Hog Fishing
Rember to remain compliant with the laws of the state in which you are fishing. Before heading offshore, obtain a fishing license and regulations book to become educated on size requirements and limits.
Spearfishing presents dangers from multiple aspects. First, become scuba certified before taking the deep plunge down to a reef.
Secondly, spearguns are dangerous, and accidental misfires result in injury or death when you are far from help.
Lastly, sharks become attracted to the smell of a speared fish in addition to the vibration. Expect to see sharks in your vicinity and sacrifice the caught fish if need be.
Head Out Hog Fishing Or Visit The Seafood Market
Depending on how adventurous you are, either head offshore to the reefs and wrecks or visit a local seafood market to purchase freshly caught hogs. No matter which you choose, the taste will draw you back for more. Fishermen should consider wall mounting a large hogfish because of the beauty. Lastly, ask local restaurants if these tasty fillets ever make the menu to avoid preparing it yourself.