This is a very active time for many fish in the Gulf of Mexico, and the bottom fish are on the move as well as the pelagics. Over the past few weeks red grouper and hogfish have moved out to water deeper than 60 feet. Mangrove snappers have continued to stay in all depths and have not followed the grouper and hogfish. With the influx of the pelagics such as kingfish and cobia, our divers are following the bait to find these fish. Cobias are showing up on most of the wrecks and big-structure bottom when bait is present. They also are flirting around on the limestone ledges. Don’t be surprised to see a 30- to 40-pound cobia swimming all by himself on a small rock ledge. Cobias seem lost in this environment; they usually prefer more structure to keep them in the area. For those venturing out to the Florida Middle Grounds, hogfish are more prolific. Some nice-size male hogs are being taken in the 14- to 17-pound class. Red grouper are also in the Middle Grounds. Scamp grouper in this area are being found in the 4- to 5-pound class, and that just exceeds the minimum size for this fish of 16 inches. Cobia are moving through the Middle Grounds as well, and a few over 50 pounds were speared in the past few days.
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.