The season for hogfish, one of the funniest looking fish in the Gulf of Mexico, closed this week, but that's to protect these prized sportfish during the spawning season.
The season will remain closed until Jan. 1, but anglers should take a few moments to learn about this great catch.
The species Lachnolaimus maximus, sometimes erroneously called hognose or hog snapper, has not been heavily targeted by rod and reelers. But in recent years, traditional anglers have found this fish to be a fine fight.
Most information about this species comes not from anglers, but from scuba divers and spearfishermen, who actually see hogfish.
With an elongated snout resembling that of a pig, the hogfish is also one of the tastiest sport fish in the Gulf of Mexico. A member of the wrasse family, a big hogfish can reach 3 feet in length. They have strong jaws and root around to feed, primarily on clams, crabs and snails.
According to the International Game Fish Association's World Record Game Fishes, the all-tackle record for hogfish is 21 pounds, 6 ounces off North Carolina, and the Florida record is 19 pounds, 8 ounces.
Hogfish are highly valued by spearfishermen because of their large size and fine-tasting meat. Their conspicuous presence and curious nature -- hogfish are not shy and allow divers to get close -- make them a staple for divers.
But if you are an offshore enthusiast, add hogfish to your list of much catch fish.