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Captain’s Corner: A variety of choices await spearfishermen

By Bill Hardman, Times Correspondent

For spearfishermen who are braving the colder water temperatures, the offshore waters are carrying plenty of hogfish, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, flounder and jolt-head porgies. The flounder are lying in wait around the sandy aprons of wrecks and springs. The daily flounder limit is 10 per person. Make sure they are over the 12-inch overall minimum size limit. Our divers are finding sizeable flounder around the artificial wrecks. Big sheepshead have moved offshore to spawn. Some sheepshead in the central-eastern Gulf of Mexico can reach the 10-pound range and are 11 to 14 years old. Sheepshead get bigger, get older and grow faster in the Atlantic. I recently speared an 8.4-pound sheepshead, the first sheepshead I ever ate. I fried it and was very surprised by the firm white meat. Jolt-head porgies donít get bigger than a few pounds, in water less than 100 feet. They are very tasty.

Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and [email protected]