• Species Profile: Northern Hogsucker, Hypentelium nigricans

Post date: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 00:35
Updated date: 3/17/14
Northern Hogsucker Lips and face closeup


The Northern Hog Sucker is a fish that few North American anglers have ever heard of, much less caught.  Found exclusively in flowing waters, these fish present a unique challenge to the dedicated angler.


Other Names:  Boxhead Trout, Pugamoo, Hogmolly, Hognose Sucker, Black Sucker, Stoneroller, Riffle Sucker, Bigheaded Sucker, Hammerhead Sucker, Spotted Sucker, Hog Mullet, Crawl-a-Bottom, Stone Lugger, Stone Toter, Hognose, Boxhead, Squarehead, Goth Sucker




Also called the Hog Molly, Boxhead, Stone Toter, Hammerhead Sucker, Crawl-a-bottom, and Pugamoo, this fish looks sort of like a bug-eyed lizard. All Northern Hog Suckers have a black ring around their mouth which is a conclusive identifying feature. Of course, they also have a bulbous head that is concave between the protruding eyes and fleshy lips covered in warts. Their pectoral fins are large, fleshy, almost leglike appendages. Their heavily scaled bodies are mottled with light and dark brown patches, and the light scales on the body have a brassy golden sheen. Northern Hog Suckers do not get very big (rarely two pounds), but are strong fish for their size.




Northern Hog Suckers live only in fast-flowing water, preferring medium to small streams. They spend their whole lives fighting heavy current so they are incredibly strong for their size. Northern Hog Suckers feed amongst stones and often turn over rocks with their heads while feeding, which dislodges nymphs and contributes to biological drift. They frequent fast, rocky water, hopping along the bottom like toads, using their fleshy pectoral fins to grip the bottom in fast water. In shallow, rocky riffles their natural camoflauge makes them almost invisible to the untrained eye. So confident are they in their camoflauge that they will remain perfectly motionless while you wade right up to them. Northern Hog Suckers are surprisingly common for a fish so seldom seen. Most warmwater fishermen do not fish in fast, rocky riffles, so they never have a chance at these unique fish.




Live bait is the order of the day when chasing hogsuckers. Since they usually feed by taste and smell on foods found underneath rocks, it's pretty hard to present an artificial to them. Nightcrawlers, nymphs, and strips of squid or shrimp are best. Snagless rigs help keep you from losing tackle. Light to ultralight spinning gear is perfect. Be sure to practice catch and release; hogsuckers are a very valuable part of the stream ecosystem.


Range Map

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Notable Catches

FishmanZ 5/1/13
dj330 3/26/12

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