© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2000
The natural coral reefs off our coast are home to an abundance of fish during summer.
One fish that gathers in decent numbers is the hogfish. Sometimes called the hognose snapper, it is not a member of the snapper family. It belongs to the wrasse family.
Though fairly common on reefs, hogfish are difficult to catch on a hook and line. They have a fairly strict diet of crustaceans. Crabs and shrimp are preferred bait for these cagey critters. Light tackle is advisable, with line testing no more than 20 pounds. The biggest problem is that the hite grunts typically will pounce on the bait before the hogfish have the opportunity. If you use shrimp, bring lots.
Hogfish are perhaps the finest eating fish that inhabits the reef. They typically weigh 3-4 pounds. The all-tackle record for Florida is 19 pounds, 8 ounces. The meat is comparable to flounder.
Mangrove snapper will devour bait intended for hogfish and are almost as good as hogfish.
Inshore, trout are fairly abundant on the grass flats, but word is, redfish are starting to show up after a slow summer. Redfishing should get better as fall eases into the area and the water temperature drops a few degrees.
- Gary Folden charters the Strike Zone out of Clearwater Municipal Marina. Call (727) 585-8544