by Capt. Bill D’Antuono
Wintertime diving in Southwest Florida presents challenges, but as with every challenge comes opportunity. We are now entering prime cobia season and stud mangrove snapper will be on almost every spot. With cobia, just find a nice wreck and be ready to pull the trigger on the descent. Cobia will offer few opportunities to pull the trigger as they come in and quickly check you out. Be ready to battle with these fish and shot placement counts. I cannot tell you how many divers have had spears bounce off a cobia’s hard head. Aim for just behind the gill plate and spine for the best chance at landing one. Mangrove snapper are one of my favorites to eat, but not always the easiest to spear. A poorly placed shot and you are not only risking losing the fish, but also damaging the meat and losing some filet. Spearfishing snapper in general is tricky, as they are some of the most ‘Houdini-like’ fish and will figure out a way to get free.
Of course, the water will be a bit chilly and the weather windows shrink this time of year. Pick your days wisely and wear a 5mm suit with a hood for thermal protection against the elements. It helps to have your spots dialed in as well, because you do not want to be checking for new spots in chilly conditions. There is a major difference diving in cold water, between diving a spot with trophy fish or one with no fish. Adrenaline plays a factor and when you see a big fish, you seem to forget about the cold, at least for the moment!
Shoot me a message on Instagram or email for any specific questions and charter bookings you may have. 2018 was a great year for SWFL spearfishing and will be hard to top! Hope everyone had a great New Year!