What's hot: The St. Pete Open, "The World's Spearfishing Championships," was last week, and leading up to it, any diver with enough proper training to dive deep was looking for big grouper, amberjack, hogfish, snappers and lobsters for the tournament. The idea was to spot the fish and leave them for the tournament.
Big amberjack: In water deeper than 130 feet, amberjack weighing more than 100 pounds have been speared. They have been over wrecks more than over springs and ledges. Most divers finding fish in these deep spots are trained to dive with Helitrox gas. Diving with Helitrox, they can think clearly and don't get some of the disabling effects of nitrogen narcosis.
Big hogfish: The deep waters of the Elbow (140 feet and deeper) have given up some really big hogfish. A couple of weeks ago we got three hogfish weighing more than 20 pounds each on two quick dives. We probably should have saved them for the tournament, but that plan failed. Hogfish have been running bigger in shallow depths this year as well. This has been a great year for hogfish.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing, technical and freediving courses at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. You can reach him at (727) 344-3483 or CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com.