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Captain’s Corner: Spearfishing conditions improving

By Bill Hardman, Times Correspondent

For spearfishing, underwater visibility is much better, and some offshore areas are loaded with fish. Gag groupers have been found by our divers in most depths, but recently, areas 50 feet and shallower are holding most of them. Visibility is better 60 feet and deeper, but gags are hanging out in thicker concentrations in 30 to 40 feet off St. Petersburg and Sarasota. Free divers are having fun hunting cobia and kingfish. Cobias are moving south with the bait and showing up on wrecks and hard-bottom areas. Hard bottoms holding big bait balls have cobia swimming below the bait and kingfish cutting through the middle and top. These pelagic fish are strong swimmers, so strong spear gun reels or free dive float-line systems are needed to land them. Break-away or slip tips are standard for spears for the soft-sided kings. A straight shaft and tip system puts too much wear on the skin and the fish can pull off during a fight. Secure these fish with a tip that will hold rather than tear. Have a cutting tool with you in case you get caught in a line.

Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and [email protected]