The cobia, the barracuda, and the hogfish might not fit as neatly into a group as other Key West species, but they’re still very popular targets in the area and well worth the pursuit for anglers of all ages and levels of experience.

The best teacher is on-the-water experience, but this guide will tell you everything you need to know about these exciting fish and give you a head start on landing them. Hopefully, this information will also encourage you to come down and experience the thrill-a-minute adventure of Key West deep sea fishing in a way that’s up-close, personal, and extremely satisfying.


The cobia is what you might call an all-purpose fish. Often used in fresh sushi because of its firm, delicious meat, cobia are highly valued by many restaurants in both Key West and the rest of Southern Florida. They ’re a popular target for sport fishermen as well, largely because of their size, endurance, and sheer fighting ability. In fact, hooking a cobia for the first time can be a startling experience, largely because they strike very aggressively and will often dive deep down in the water in an effort to shake off your line.

The cobia is a consistently large fish, with an average length of 3-4 feet and usually weighing around 40-50 pounds. They’re also quite curious and will sometimes come up to the side of your boat, where their voracious appetite makes them likely to go after just about any sort of live or dead bait. Landing a cobia is well worth the struggle, but be ready for an intense battle that will challenge both your equipment and your stamina.

The Barracuda

‘The Tiger of the Sea’ is the perfect nickname for the barracuda. With its large size, sharp, fang-like teeth, and a fearsome overall appearance, the barracuda has a well-deserved reputation for being an aggressive, top-of-the-food-chain predator. Their quick striking ability and incredible speed– they can swim close to 30 miles an hour in brief bursts–  serve to enhance this reputation and make them one of the most feared fish in the water. But while a barracuda can cause serious injury, reports of attacks on humans are actually extremely rare. That being said, it’s still not a good idea to provoke them!

Though their size can vary greatly, the barracuda is a large species of fish, with an average length of 2-3 feet and a weight that usually tops off at around 30 pounds. Their appearance is also impressive, with sharp, tapered heads, powerful jaws, and a pair of separated dorsal fins. In terms of color, the barracuda usually displays a greyish-silver on top that gradually fades to white on the belly and is marked by distinctive black spots on the sides of the body.

Barracudas are solitary predators who prefer to hunt in shallow waters and in reef areas. Very curious and attracted to shiny objects, you can often catch barracuda with bonita, sardines, mackerel, as well as silvery lures. However impressive it is, the barracuda should not be considered as a food fish. They actually emit a foul odor once out of the water and are caught for the thrill of it, not for the taste of their meat.