8am-outside air temperature – 77 degrees, warming to 84 degrees by 10am. An east wind, 77-degree water temperature with one-to-two-foot seas, a mild north current and visibility of 40 feet.
Vessel & Crew
Private vessel-Chiefy (29’ Sea Vee with twin 300 hp Mercury Verados)
Crew-Ken Udell, Chuck Van Buskirk, John Strunk and myself.
Dive, Dive, Dive
Today was the first day available for the crew to get out since the beginning of hogfish and grouper season on May 1st. For hogfish, this is the first year of a six-month no-take season to build the fishery back to abundance. Additionally, there is a new size limit from 12 inches to 16 inches and from a bag limit of five fish to only one per-day. All hogfish start off as females and become males based on the environmental needs of the species. In the past, you would see one big male hogfish surrounded by his harem of smaller females. You knew the population was being threatened by seeing male hogfish not even the minimum allowable size of 12 inches. They would normally transition from females to males around 15 inches, so it was time for the State to put in aggressive regulations.
Hogfish is a great eating fish and because it’s primarily taken by spearing, their wide profile makes them easy targets. They have a pure white fillet with great texture and non-fishy taste.
Grouper regulations are tied to their spawning season during the winter. We haven’t been able to harvest any grouper since January 1st. During these past four months of non-taking, we’ve seen plenty of grouper, so we know the regulations are working. There are also additional size and bag limits on grouper and goliath and Nassau grouper are still protected.
Today was just a good day to dive and we were productive in landing some nice sized hogfish and grouper. In addition, we even got a nice mutton snapper and some yellow jack. Overall, it was a perfect day for diving in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.