The Secret Tricks to Catch Hogfish in St. Petersburg, Florida

The Secret Tricks to Catch Hogfish in St. Petersburg, Florida

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The secret of how to catch Hogfish in St. Petersburg is an unusual and creative one. Here at YACHTFISH Fishing Charters, Captain Matt Douglas uses a unique rig with live shrimp. This is a great solution when hunting the highly sought after Hogfish, that love to point their snouts downward and ignore hooks and lines.

Here’s what we do when catching the very elusive and highly delicious Hogfish in St. Petersburg:

How to Catch a Hogfish in St. Petersburg, Florida:

At YACHTFISH Fishing Charters, we’ve got a tried and tested technique to catch Hogfish in St. Petersburg, FL – buckets full!

Our trick? Hogfish on spinners! It’s an unusual approach, but highly successful. Here’s the trick:

We head out on our state-of-the-art 32 foot SeaVee Center Console to deep sea territory about 20 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. We know there are some great hotspots where the Hogfish are biting!

Then we anchor up and drift above slowly for that perfect place. At around 60-70 ft, we start chumming with cut-up shrimp.

When dropping down our lines the Hogfish will usually stay off the spot for a while, but in the meantime we get a bunch of different fish biting! Red Grouper, big beautiful Porgies and Yellow Tails are common! This is great fun, while we wait for the Hogfish to arrive. We never know what we’re gonna pull up!

The minute one Hogfish bites, the rest of the nearby Hogfish fish get excited and we get ready for some crazy action as the Hogfish arrive in droves.

Catching Hogfish means switching to live bait! We hook up live shrimp and drop them down to the bottom and wait for the rods to start bending! When the fish are hooked, we pull up beautiful Hogfish, also known as Hog Snapper!

Don’t worry and fear a foul hook if the fish comes up on its side, this is because they often get hooked on the side of their mouths, but their big snout might surface first. You’ll see soon enough.

What Rig Do We Use to Catch a Hogfish in Florida?

We use an unusual approach of drop-down spinners and a knocker rig. This rig uses a lead that rides on the line of the fluorocarbon. We use a 25-30 lb test to an offset hook.

It’s a Snapper-style rig, but some people think it’ll spook the Hogfish. But no! Out in the Gulf from St. Petersburg the Hogfish are feeding on hard bottoms with no sand. So the Hogfish are looking directly down, they don’t pay attention to the lead.

It’s a stunning sight when they surface! We often catch as many as 8 to 10 in a row at a single spot! When the bite slows, we move onto another spot nearby and try the same secret to catch Hogfish in St. Petersburg!

“The system of how to catch a Hogfish with YACHTFISH Fishing Charters was insane. The day of days!” – RJ Boyle

(Check out his video to see us in action with Hogfish here).

If you want to catch Hogfish in St. Petersburg in this style, we welcome you to book a YACHTFISH Fishing Charters deep sea fishing trip today! We offer 6-8 hour deep sea experiences and welcome all skill ranges and age groups.

Read Related: How to Go on a Deep Sea Fishing Charter in St. Petersburg, FL

Can I Keep Hogfish in St. Petersburg, Florida?

Yes, you can. There is a minimum 14” to the fork length sizes, so you may have to release any juveniles back – but don’t worry, with YACHTFISH Fishing Charters we’ll be catching more than enough!

We’ll take you back to the dock and filet the fish for you. You can take them to one of the nearby restaurants and have it cooked while enjoying a cool drink after your unforgettable day.

Hogfish Species Guide:

Hogfish, also known as ‘Hog Snapper’ are the largest member of the ‘wrasse’ family in the Gulf! They’re found around reefs and soft coral in deep sea waters. As benthic (bottom) feeders, they love to feed on mollusks, crabs and shrimp.

They’re called Hogfish thanks to their long hog-like snouts that allow them to feed on bottom-dwelling crustaceans.

Hogfish are highly sought after and are delicious, with a mild flavor and texture. They’re sweeter than Grouper, but flakier than Mahi Mahi. As they love to feed on crustaceans, their filets taste similar to scallops and lobster.

Every single Hogfish starts out as a female, but will grow into a male over time. During the breeding season, they defend their territories and breed with around 10-15 females all season long.

They are a surprisingly unknown and understudied species, making them a prized catch for anglers in the know. We love them! A few facts below:

  • Economically important reef fish in Florida
  • Hogfish season is open year-round
  • They can grow up to 36 inches
  • Oldest female Hogfish was recorded at 12 years old and 25 inches
  • Oldest male caught was over 18 years old
  • It’s believed Hogfish can live up to 23 years
  • Black blotch found near the end of their dorsal fin
  • The first 3 spines of their dorsal fins are very elongated
  • Deep, strongly compressed bodies
  • Snouts are elongated in adults
  • Elongated upper and lower lobes on their tails
  • Young Hogfish are found with various colors and marks, which fade with age

Read Related: Guide to Private Fishing Charters in St.Petersburg, FL

Book a Hogfish Deep Sea Fishing Charter in St. Petersburg, Florida


If you want to catch a Hogfish or ‘Hog Snapper’ in St. Petersburg Florida, we welcome you onboard one of our YACHTFISH Deep Sea Fishing Charters. Booking in advance is highly recommended for deep sea fishing, as demand remains high all year.

YACHTFISH Fishing Charters has enjoyed over 20 years of experience in St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Tampa and Clearwater and guarantees you a catch everytime! We welcome all ages and all skill levels, from young novices to experienced anglers.

CALL or TEXT: YACHTFISH CHARTERS (727) 433-4200 to book a deep sea fishing charter in St. Petersburg today! Or BOOK NOW at

YACHTFISH will provide an unforgettable experience second to none with Fishing Charters departing daily from St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Tampa and Clearwater.

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About the Author...
Matt Douglas

Matt Douglas

Captain Matt Douglas is the founder of YACHTFISH and is a licensed United States Coast Guard 100 ton Master Captain. Captain Matt grew up on the waters of Tampa Bay and lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 11 years. He has extensive experience in Central America, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Florida. Captain Matt is a tournament-winning captain who has an intense passion for boating, fishing and creating life time memories for his Clients. These passions, combined with his experience, were the catalysts for YACHTFISH. Captain Matt is laser-focused on what he enjoys the most, and knows the best, in Tampa Bay and Costa Rica.
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