Cooler water: The dropping offshore water temperature requires at least a good 3 millimeters wet suit. The good news: Cooler water is bringing more fish action. As the visibility is clearing from last week's turbulent seas, divers are finding some gags and good quantities of hogfish and snappers in less than 70 feet. Cobia are on many wrecks and are traveling in small packs on their quest to more southern waters.
Cobia tactics: First, make sure your spear gear is in top condition — fresh bands, nonfrayed line, all screws tight and shafts straight. For safety, have a blade that can easily cut your spear line within arm's reach. Many spearfishermen aim for the brain on these fish, which is much smaller and harder to reach. The large vertebrae just behind the gill area are easier to reach, and if your shot doesn't stop the fish, it surely hinders its ability to swim. Cobia tend to swim by pivoting their body around the shoulder area. A well-placed shaft there helps slow their great swimming strength. This shoulder pivoting motion mimics the way many sharks swim and that, with the darker color of the cobia, is one reason divers quickly mistake cobia for sharks.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.