What's hot: For spearfishermen, hogfish are still showing up on many ledges and rocky areas from Sarasota to Crystal River. The bottom water temperature has started to drop since the past couple of cold fronts, so hogfish are more plentiful in water deeper than 70 feet off Anna Maria Island and 50 feet west of Bayport.
About this fish: Hogfish are primarily taken by spear since they rarely bite conventional baits. The population of hogfish off the west coast of Florida is strong. With gag grouper season shutting down Sunday and not reopening until April 1, more divers will be targeting hogfish. The good news for hogfish populations is the slow economy and relative lack of recreational dollars have kept many divers from running offshore trips.
Grouper closure and tournaments: By March, fishermen and divers will surely feel the pain of this closure. So one popular spearing tournament in Florida, the Tampa Bay Winter Invitational, has been moved to April 4. For more about this and other tournaments, go to spearfishingplanet.com or divefsda.com.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 344-3483.