Those who spearfish are still having issues with finding underwater visibility conducive to good hunting. In the shallow offshore areas, depths from 30 to 60 feet, visibility has recently started to improve. At the beginning of this week, our divers found visibility in 40 feet that changed from as good as 20 feet of horizontal visibility to as low as 10 when the tides changed. Farther offshore has been better. Horizontal visibility in the Middle Grounds is still averaging from 40 to 70 feet. If you can get out that far, you should find strong concentrations of fish. Gag grouper are scattered in the Middle Grounds, but when you find good bait, a few nice-sized gags usually are skirting underneath it. Also hunting bait with the gags are mangrove snappers, hogfish and jolthead porgies. These benthic fish can be surprised as the diver gently moves through the bait and upon the fish. Quick movements will scatter the bait, and the fish will scatter as well. Gags are the most wary of these fish. To get close enough for a shot, blend in with the bait pods and then let the bait move away from you. As the bait moves away, you may catch a grouper or snapper holding back and watching it. This is a good time to make your move and take the shot.
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]