What's hot: Amberjacks are the hot topic for offshore anglers and spearfishermen. The determined divers who are jumping into the 60- to 64-degree water in depths of more than 100 feet are finding legal-size amberjacks, with a few larger ones hiding in the shadows of the school of smaller fish.
Just this past week, some of our breath-hold divers managed a 50 pound-plus amberjack over a wreck in 100 feet. Then they ventured off to a wreck in 120 feet and managed two 'jacks in the 90-pound class.
Tips: The water is cold enough that divers should be wearing full thermal head protection with their wet suit. Wearing a full hood for the first time (or for the first time since last winter) can cause serious panic problems, resulting from claustrophobic feelings caused by a combination of factors: wearing a snug restrictive hood; the immediate shock of jumping into relatively cold water; and the difficulty breathing from wearing layers of restrictive wet suit materials.
What works best is to have a short line tied off the boat. After entering the cold water for the first time, grab the rope and descend only a few feet and get acclimated to all the restrictions.
It only takes a minute to clear the trapped air that rises through the wet suit and rests in the top of the hood. This air pulls the hood up around your neck and causes pressure on the throat. Continue holding the line, vent the air, calm yourself down and only when you're completely ready, start your descent.
Bill Hardman teaches Scuba, Spearfishing, Technical & Freediving courses at Aquatic Obsessions in St. Petersburg. You can contact him at (727) 344-3483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.