Lobster season is open until the end of March and divers are trying to get in some time to look for the last of the Florida spiny lobsters. Divers in the eastern Gulf of Mexico have done well, since the offshore water clarity finally cleared from Hurricane Irma. Most lobsters in the Gulf have come in areas ranging from 50 to 80 feet of water. The Florida Middle Grounds hasnít produced well in the past 21/2 years. A Red Tide infusion of the Middle Grounds in late 2015 caused most of the life on the bottom to leave the Middle Grounds or die. Lobsters and bottom dwelling fish, such as grouper, snapper and hogfish, started to re-populate the "Grounds" last summer. Other areas such as West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Florida Keys have lobsters on the reefs. Best bet is West Palm to Fort Lauderdale with a three- to four-hour drive across the state. To avoid the high hotel costs, get in a day of dives and head back home.
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]