What's hot: Hogfish are still being found on limestone ledges and rock piles on the bottom from just south of Sarasota to north of Hudson. Those who spearfisher were fortunate to find steady numbers for most of 2011, and this year is looking strong as well. This area of the Gulf of Mexico has large numbers of hogfish, due in part to the long breeding season in this temperate area. A two-year study completed three years ago determined hogfish breed in the bay area every month except September. Studies in Cuba and other Caribbean countries reported breeding seasons of two to three months.
Be careful: Lionfish have moved into our waters, which could doom our fish population. Lionfish are voracious eaters, and smaller reef fish don't realize they are the prey. Divers are doing their best to spear and remove lionfish. Keep an eye out for these invasive fish and their poisonous spines when diving.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and firstname.lastname@example.org.