What's hot: Mangrove snapper and hogfish are all over the bottom of the gulf. From inside Tampa Bay out to 100 feet and deeper, these fish can be found on all types of structures. Even the easy-to-find pipeline is holding plenty of fish. The snapper are more prevalent where there are exposed rocks. They are usually found darting in and out of rock and debris. Another good spot is any area where the movements of currents have dug out the sand under the bottom of the pipe. Fish love to slide back and forth for the protective cover under the pipe, and this is a staging area for other fish as well.
Tactics: Be patient. On the pipeline, it is important to slow down and let the fish relax. There are many eyes to spot you and very little cover for you. So get low and move very slow with no quick motion. The older and smarter hogfish leave the structures for the sand when divers enter the area. So keep a patient eye and move slowly. One of my top 10 rules to being a successful spearfisherman is a good underwater hunter learns to see the fish before it sees you.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 or [email protected]ail.com.