Heavenly Hogs

Hogfish – it’s an ugly name for a pretty fish. It’s also one of the most delicious species in the world. I know some seafood shops that store hogfish fillets behind the counter and bring it out only for special customers. I’ve had chefs beg me for hogfish once they found out I was into spearfishing. One chef wrote, “Not even for fresh broiled flounder could you pry my cold, dead hands off a hogfish fillet.”


Some describe it as the perfect combination of flavor and texture because they are “sweeter than grouper, flakier than mahi, and as rich as scallops.” Their unique flavor is due to their diet of small crabs, shrimp and seashells, which translates into moist, white, tasty meat.

Hogfish use their elongated snouts to root around in the sand for food, like a hog. Due to this tendency of searching with nose in the sand, it is very uncommon to catch them by hook and line, although it is possible to bait them with shrimp. Hogfish are sometimes thought of as nature’s gift to spearfishers, especially for beginners, because they are relatively abundant, relatively easy to spear, and such a prized catch.

hogfish spearfishing

Hogfish can live up to 11 years, and they all start out as females. Upon reaching about 3 years and 14 inches, they transform into males with harem groups of females dominated by a larger male. Juveniles are pale pink and attain a deep dark band spanning from the snout to the first dorsal spine as they mature and turn into males. Maximum size is about 24 pounds.You can find them on rocky bottoms, ledges and reefs throughout the western Atlantic, from North Carolina and Bermuda, south to the Gulf of Mexico and the northern coast of South America. They are very common in Florida and the Bahamas and can be found in shallow waters, ranging from 10-100 feet.

Hogfish Spearfishing Tips

Assuming you are in the right place to find them, here are some hogfish spearfishing tips:

1) Bag/size limits ensure a healthy stock and protect it from overfishing, so respect the local laws.

2) Look on reefs and especially on sand edges for bigger hogfish.

3) They are not difficult to spear, so take your time, be selective, and don’t take long shots.

4) They are abundant in the Bahamas. This is a good fish to practice your slinging/polespearing skills. Only take the shot if you are sure you can land it.

5) If you are not seeing any, try stirring up the bottom and make a sand cloud. If there are any in the vicinity, they will come to investigate.

6) Do not take advantage of their nature. Take one for dinner, and respect them for the beautiful experience and the delicious meal.

By Sheri Daye

Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram for more tips on hogfish spearfishing.


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