Sunday, February 25, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Hunting hogfish

What's hot: Hogfish are still the spearfisherman's best quarry in the shallow waters of the central west coast of Florida. We found plenty of nice-sized hogfish on our most recent dive. Some of the bigger males were 6 to 8 pounds in depths of 45-60 feet. The larger ones were definitely more skittish as they patrolled their territory. Gag grouper season is still open (closes at midnight on Dec. 3). We found keeper gags on all the ledges.

Tips: Most divers know that hogfish aren't the most cautious fish. A good thing about these fish is that beginner divers can work out their "buck fever" and speargun idiosyncrasies on these easily approachable fish. Hogfish are the most common fish taken by beginning spearfishermen. Most of the harvested fish are the smaller females. The males are much older and more aware. A dominant male swims constantly, checking on his females and intimidating smaller males in his territory. When hunting for bigger hogfish, stay close to the females, relax and don't give off predatory signals. Then with a little luck the bigger male might swim in and give you a shot.

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]

Comments

Captainís Corner: For next few months, trout is a great target

It is prime time for catching quality trout, our most abundant fish, pretty cooperative and easy to catch most of the time. Make long casts and move lures slowly to connect with big Tampa Bay trout. Lures work just as well as bait for trout. Go with ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Spring-like conditions lead to improved bite

Spring-like conditions have fired up a bite that a couple of weeks ago was practically nonexistent. Water temperatures in the mid 70s have mangrove snapper, grouper, triggerfish and hogfish aggressively chewing again in the 40- to 50-foot range.With ...
Published: 02/23/18
Updated: 02/24/18

Captainís Corner: Cobia moving into bay ahead of schedule

Rapidly increasing water temperatures have migratory fish moving toward the bay area. Typically, schools of coastal pelagic fish such as cobia and mackerel do not return until late March. This year, they are way ahead of schedule. Cobia are one of th...
Published: 02/23/18

Captainís Corner: Rising temperatures fire up the bite

With no cold fronts rolling into the bay area soon, it also means water temperatures are on the rise to the mid 70s. That has the bite fired up inshore and nearshore. Snook fishing is on fire with these warmer temperatures at night. Weíve been findin...
Published: 02/22/18

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

Scuba and freediving spearfishermen and women have enjoyed great underwater visibility over the past week. Some boaters going offshore can make out the bottom structure from the gunnel of the boat. Best depths for visibility have been in 30 to 40 fee...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

Captainís Corner: Flats coming to life in north Pinellas County

The flats are really coming to life in north Pinellas County. Our main focus this time of year is spotted sea trout, though redfish are cooperating and schooling a bit. Snook are also responding to the warm weather, occasionally eating on the falling...
Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18