How To Catch Hogfish Using These Easy-To-Do Fishing Methods

January 8, 2017

Hog snapper, or commonly known as hogfish, belongs to the member of the wrasse family. You can found them in the Gulf and Atlantic waters just around the Florida Keys. You may catch large hogfish 100 feet underneath the surface of the waters. But, what you have to realize is that catching hogfish can be quite challenging.

You may need to prepare with your bait and equipment to sink as these species tend to swim near the sandy rocks and ledges. So, you need to follow these essential techniques on how to catch hogfish.


Overview of the Hogfish

Hogfish, or often known as hog snapper, is not a snapper after all. However, as mentioned, it is a member of the wrasse family. Hogfish has a huge mouth, long snout, and overhanging dorsal fins and front teeth.

It also has extended streamers discerning it from any other types of fishes in the Florida Keys. Its tail is broad and not forked deep. It also boasts its more diffident streamers.

Their colors differ depending on the part of the waters they live. In the sandy parts, the fish tends to adapt the color light pink. For grassy areas, they may seem to be more of the color brown, gray, and salmon pink.

On an average, a hogfish may weigh up to four pounds. Its standard size is 12 inches starting from the end of the snout going into the fork of the tail. You must measure the fish at the center of the tail, not the edge of the streamers.

Common Habitat of the Hogfish

These fishes may live in the Gulf and Atlantic waters, which surround the Florida Keys. They often root around the sandy parts of the shipwrecks, uncovered rocky areas, and coral patches. You can find the largest varieties of hogfish on the deeper tip of the main line of the Atlantic reef. They usually stay in 100 feet of water or 80 feet sandy outcrops.

Typical Food Choices of the Hogfish

Like any other pigs and hogs, hogfish also search around using their noses to look for food. Their differently shaped snout is capable of flowing through the sandy parts of the waters. Plus, it also helps in uncovering the tiny invertebrates. Moreover, hogfish usually chooses to eat worms, shrimp, and small crabs.

Efficient Fishing Techniques for Hogfish

You can accidentally catch hogfish. However, it is possible to use essential ways to target them. Here are some techniques for you to spot these fishes:

Using Light Tackle

In a similar way in fishing snappers on the reef off the Florida Keys, you may also use light tackle to go for the biggest catch of your life. The most effective strategy will need to utilize a 12-pound gear with a 12-pound test as the primary line.

You may also use some fluorocarbon leaders testing depending on the fishing depth and the size of the fish. You can use fluorocarbon leaders beginning from 15 up to 30 pounds.

Utilizing Jig Heads

As you fish for hogfish surrounding the shallow parts of the shipwrecks, patch reefs, and grass heads, you may use jig heads. You can use jig heads with the maximum weight of 5/8 ounce to catch the fish successfully.

Also, some fishers obtain knocker rigs for the deeper parts of the reef. You may also utilize them around rock piles and deep wrecks wherein you will need four ounces of lead to get the bait underneath the water. Hook dimensions of the knocker rigs can range from #2 to #2/0 circle hook or bait hook if possible.

Chumming to Draw the Hogfish Closer

The most favorable chum to attract fishes, especially hogfish, are any parts of thrown away crustaceans. You may use shrimp heads, crabs, small shellfish, and even lobster legs. All you have to do is to crush the crab, lobster, and shrimp parts.

Then, place the mixture into a small container. Allow the mixture to freeze overnight. If you do not own a grinder, do not panic! You may still use a five-gallon of dowel and bucket, as well as a mortar and pestle. Use these items to grind and squash the crustaceans.

It is not like chumming to draw the snapper. Hogfish chumming is more like manipulating the position underneath the water to target the nearest fishes. You need to also anchor using the sand surrounding the tip of the structure.

Then, you may use the weighted container to release the chum. A typical mesh bag for chumming along with the four-pound dive weight will also deploy the chum at the bottom of the waters.

Apart from the bag or the basket, you have to get enough attachment in the line to enable the shaking of the container. Doing so will scatter the scent of the crabs, shrimps, and shells across the bottom of the waters to draw the hogfish closer.

Also, you need to put the container on the boat’s bow. It will make the baits control the back to make a direct line with the chum stick. The up and down movement of the ship will also diffuse the scent of the chum consistently.

Make Use of Some Spear Divers Tricks

If you are still in doubt of the methods listed above, you may borrow some tips and tricks from spear fishers from the Florida Keys that target hogfish.

One is that if you do not have any access to the fish tray, you need to tie a cumbersome and flat object to a line connected to the boat’s bow. Same goes if there are enough quantities of crustacean leftovers to make chum. Also, you may use a small barbell weight or a dive weight for this trick.

Again, let us remind you that the shaking of the boat will rebind the weight off underneath the vessel. It will build up sand puffs that continuously attract some hogfish in the surrounding areas. Moreover, thrusting off the sand is another diver’s trick to draw the hogfish near you. It is an easy procedure that you can also use with a weight to generate a similar effect.

Baits to Use in Catching Hogfish

Fresh dead or live shrimp is the most sought after the bait and the most available at almost all tackle shops. You can use frozen shrimp if you want. However, they are usually too flexible to stay in place on the hook for a very long time.

All you have to do is to chop the blue crab into pieces. It will efficiently work if you will use a sharp pair of scissors. Make the work done as quick as possible.

And since hogfish often search in the sandy parts of food sources, it is vital to keep the bait near the bottom area as you can. The hogfish bite is very delicate. You may use a slightest extra piece of weight on the tip of the rod. It is the most obvious hint to set the hook, especially the circle hook. Then, you may start reeling.

The battle will be over very quickly. However, for the larger hogfish, you may start pulling aggressively before giving in. In that way, you can easily steady the pressure on the rod. The method will also make a fair share of the occasional snapper and grouper. Also, anglers may also catch sheepshead, pompano, and porgies using a similar technique.

Why Fish for Hogfish

If you do not realize it by now, you should remember that hogfish are real treats, especially for lunch and dinner. In fact, locals in Florida often use hogfish for their most delicious seafood dishes. It is hands down the tastiest fish in Florida. It has a very subtle flavor that comes from its white fillet meat.

Thus, it is worthwhile to catch a hogfish even if it will take a whole lot of time and effort. In fact, restaurants all throughout Florida list hogfish on their menu. These restaurants are also willing to cook your hogfish catch.


Locals in Florida and other parts of the U.S. usually go for hogfish fishing. They usually do this on the shallower patches of the reefs and the rest of the water.

Catching hogfish may be a treat for everyone, especially for those people who loves to consume the fish. In fact, hogfish is one of the greatest fishes around the area.

While divers and fishes usually catch hogfish using the spear fishing method, you can also use other techniques to do so.

You may use rod and reel to fish for hogfish. Also, you may utilize jig heads and light rods for a successful fishing adventure. All you need to do is to productively follow the techniques listed above, including using light rods and jig heads. And at the end of the day, you will certainly enjoy your bountiful catch!

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About the Author


Hello, fishing world! My name is Bella. Yes, you got me right, I am a woman! But, I am a woman not only fond of cooking and shopping. I am a woman who shows interest in everything that covers topics regarding fishing. Don’t get me wrong! I believe that the world of fishing is not exclusively for men! In fact, I, myself enjoy fishing. That’s why I created this website.

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