What's hot: Grouper are everywhere, but the season is closed. Many of our divers are encountering large schools of keeper-sized gags, and they hunt for other fish. Grouper recreational season is closed until April 1. Mangrove snappers are holding strong on the wrecks, but hogfish are a little harder to find in colder waters.
How cold is it: Even the Florida Middle Grounds are colder than normal. Usually, the bottom temperature there doesn't reach the low 60s, but this week we had divers who recorded temperatures as low as 58 there.
Spear tournament: The kickoff spearfishing tournament of the year is April 9-11 at the Winghouse Restaurant in Pinellas Park. The Tampa Bay Spearfishing Club's Winter Invitational is fun and a great opportunity for those new to tournaments. Trophies go to the top placers, but all the prizes are randomly given out, and most proceeds go to local charities. To find out more, call TBSC president Dean Karikas at (727) 458-5682.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 344-3483.