The premier fish for spearfishermen in the past few weeks has been hogfish and cobia. The hogfish is not a hog snapper. Yes, both names identify the same fish, but the slang name hog snapper is a misnomer. The hogfish is not even in the snapper family. Hogfish are from the wrasse family. The confusion started when early fish identification charts always placed the hogfish on the same page and same charts as the snappers. In fact, on the official Florida Department of Environmental Protection fish charts is says directly under the photo of the hogfish, "not a snapper but a wrasse." Occasionally people ask me questions about the hog snapper, so I want to set the record straight on the name. Spearfishermen are finding good-sized hogfish in water from 100 to 130 feet. Some of our divers have speared male hogfish from 12 to 14 pounds in these moderate distances from shore. Usually, our divers must venture another 30 or more miles past these depths to find hogfish that are so large. With these bigger male hogfish are many females that are constantly coddled by the males. Cobia are starting to gain numbers in the offshore waters. Most are smaller than 30 pounds, but it is a good sign that the remainder of the migration is on its way and with the migration comes the bigger and more prized "Big Brown Bombers."
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]