Hogfish, grouper among targets for spearfishermen

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/captains-corner-hogfish-grouper-among-targets-for-spearfishermen/2332789

For normal diving depths in the gulf, the early August visibility has been varied. In the past couple of days diving just west of St. Petersburg, the visibility was 10 feet on the bottom in 50 feet of water but more than 40 in 65 feet. Hogfish populations are holding strong on limestone structures. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has instituted a 14-inch minimum size for hogfish to give them a year or two longer to be part of the breeding stock. In water past 130 feet, spearfishermen have found gag grouper up to 40 pounds. We got some scamps at 10-12 pounds that were hanging out with the gags. Black grouper are also moving in to these depths. We spotted a few a couple of weeks ago, but they were too skittish to get off a good shot. Most were more than 50 pounds. Red snapper are hovering over hard-bottom areas, and some that we speared were 10-15 pounds. Pompano are showing in the northern middle grounds.

Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and captainbillhardman@gmail.com.