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Hogfish... One Of A Kind

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Hogfish... One Of A Kind
Hogfish is native to the western Atlantic Ocean, with a range from Nova Scotia, Canada, to northern South America, including the Gulf of Mexico.
Hogfish is not a snapper, but a member of the wrasse family.  The brightly colored wrasses family, with over 600 species, is large and diverse. The word wrasse comes from the Cornish word, 'wragh.'
Like many wrasses the Hogfish changes sex during different life stages. Juvenile Hogfish start out as female and then mature to become males. This change usually occurs around three years of age and about 14 inches in length. Females and juveniles will usually start out as pale gray, brown, or reddish brown in color, with a paler underside and no distinct patterns. Males are distinguished by a deep, dark band spanning from the snout to the first dorsal spine, as well as by a lateral black spot behind the pectoral fins:
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Hogfish social groups are organized into harems where one male will mate and protect a group of females in his territory.
Hogfish reach a maximum of around 36 inches, and weight of 24 pounds.
Many Hogfish are harvested by spear-fishermen:
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Their hog-like snout allows them to feed on Bottom-dwelling mollusks and crustaceans:
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Because they tend to root in the sediment in search of small prey, they are not commonly caught on hook and line. However, it is possible, using the right tactics, to catch them on hook and line.
 
Spinning tackle with 20 pound test line, a 2/0 hook, 3-4 foot of 15 pound test fluorocarbon leader, in conjunction with an egg sinker just large enough to reach the bottom works well. The bait of choice is, hands down, shrimp.
Hogfish can be found rooting on sandy bottoms edging ledges, reefs and wrecks in Gulf waters from around 30 to 130 foot depths.
State water rules call for a 12-inch fork length and a 5 per day limit. Federal waters call for a 12-inch total length with a possession limit of 5 per day. In 2018 an updated assessment for the west Florida Hogfish stock indicated that the fish was not over fished, and is not experiencing over fishing. However, the Gulf Council did increase the minimum size from 12 to 14 inches fork length.
The Hogfish bite is strong. Let's go!
Talk about really BIG smiles. Catching a prized Hogfish will put a smile the face of any girl, boy, man, or woman. We are talking a trophy, 'One Of A Kind' fish:
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Captain Frank began his career as a deck hand on Hubbard's Friendly Fisherman head boat. He went on to earn his 100 ton master captain's license and is now one of the best of the best. Captain Frank runs both 1/2 and all day trips. 
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Captain Joe also began his career as a Hubbard's deck hand. Like Captain Frank, he is now one of the best Captains:
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Captain Dave, Hubbard's newest Captain, brings years of experience. Talk about a great catch on a 1/2 day trip:
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Hogfish, like many fish, vary in color:
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Regardless of color, they are always a, 'One Of A Kind' trophy:
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Not to be left out, the Captain who has become a legend in his own time, Captain Garett Hubbard. Captain Garett, along with another very good Captain, Captain Bryon, have been guiding the 39 & 44 hour over-night excursions for many years. Talk about 'Mountains of fish'!
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Not too many Hogfish are caught on the over-night trips; not too many fish for them. Can they be caught on the Fabulous Florida Middle Grounds? You had better believe it, and they are HUGE!
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 Hogfish are very delicate, the fresher the better. Often Hogfish are referred to as the filet mignon of fish. This delicate white fish has virtually no "fishy" taste and is often a favorite of the gourmet. There's virtually no wrong way to cook Hogfish. However the meat is very tinder and cooks extremely fast. It's important not to overcook it.
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Snapper and grouper are tremendous fighters, may offer comparable flakiness, and are very good to eat. Never-the-less, the Hogfish is truly,'One Of A Kind!'
 
Bob Harbison
Florida Outdoor Writers Association

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