Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus) - Native


Hogchokers are the only Connecticut flatfish that will range far up tidal rivers.

Identification. Small, right-facing flatfish. No pectoral fins. Pelvic fins small. Dorsal fin reaches tip of snout. Small downward-curved mouth. Dark brownish color with many small black spots (may be faint) on sides and fins. Often has 9-11 thin, dark vertical lines on the darker side. Back dark brown to olive. Body and fins covered with profuse dark spots/blotches. Belly cream to gray, often with faint spots.

Ventral view of a hogchoker.

Bottom view of a 5-inch hogchoker.

Size. Commonly 2 to 4 inches. Max. reported size 7.9 inches.

Distribution. Atlantic coastal waters from Massachusetts to Panama. In Connecticut, hogchokers are found in most coastal streams, where they are typically common to abundant.

Hogchoker distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Prefer inshore marine waters, but will enter fresh water, sometimes traveling long distances upriver. They move into saltier reaches of estuaries during May through October to spawn. Younger juveniles tend to stay near the mouths of rivers, while older juveniles move upstream. Adults are much less likely to be found in fresh water. Hogchokers can be captured with small-mesh dip net or seine. They can be kept in home aquariums and will eat a variety of invertebrates and frozen squid. They tolerate fresh water, but do best with some degree of salinity. They grow slowly and, as do other flatfishes, stay close to the bottom.

Comments. Their effective camouflage coloring makes them difficult to see. Apparently during Colonial times, “hogchokers” fed to pigs proved difficult to swallow.

Juvenile winter flounder.

This juvenile 5-inch winter flounder can be distinguished from a hogchoker by the presence of pectoral fins.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.