Captain’s Corner: Florida Middle Grounds and the Elbow best spots for hogfish

Published September 3 2018
Updated September 5 2018

Ledges, rock piles and hard-bottom areas are still presenting good numbers of hogfish. In the average diving depths of 30-70 feet, hogfish are still showing good populations. There are also strong numbers in deeper water. The top areas have been the Florida Middle Grounds and the Elbow. Big males weighing more than 18 pounds have been regularly speared in both locations. In June, we got one at the Elbow that was 19.85 dressed, which secured first place in the Tampa Bay Spearfishing Challenge and broke the tourney record. About a week ago we took third in the St. Pete Open with another hogfish that was more than 18 pounds whole. Greater amberjack season is still open, and some big ones are being found in deep water. In those depths over 140 feet, jacks have been speared in the 60- to 80-pound range. We found some in the shallow depths, but all were under the 34-inch legal size. Amberjack season is set to end Oct. 31, however, it can be shut down earlier. Last year, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Council halted the season early due to heavier harvest numbers.

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]