AKA: hogfish, grunt

Description: Pigfish are characterized by a long, sloping snout, 12 to 13 anal fin rays and the grunting sound they make when removed from the water. The fish are a pale blue-gray color at the top that shades to silver below. The cheeks and upper sides have brassy or golden variable markings that form wavy lines and the fins are yellow-bronze.

Size: Pigfish grow to 19 inches and 2 pounds.

Sometimes confused with: pinfish, Atlantic croaker

Habitat: Pigfish are found in warm, temperate waters as far north as Cape Cod, Mass., but are most abundant south of the Chesapeake Bay in coastal waters over sand and mud bottom.

Eating habits: Adult pigfish are benthic carnivores that eat a variety of bottom invertebrates, such as worms, mollusks, amphipods, shrimp and crabs.

Life cycle: Spawning occurs inshore in the spring and early summer and in the open ocean just prior to migration into the estuaries. Pigfish reach maturity during the second year of life when the fish are as small as 7 inches.

Fishing tips: Pigfish can be caught in late spring and fall using a standard two-hook bottom rig baited with shrimp, squid or bloodworms. Anglers often find greater success while fishing near structures or on rough bottom.

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

No award given for this species.


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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