What's hot: I reported this summer about the large influx of cubera snapper in the gulf. They are still there. Many of 60-plus pounds have been speared and fished; some have been more than 100 pounds. They are residing on wrecks in depths between 30 and 190 feet.
Great catches: Last weekend the St. Pete Open had many great fish turned in. GR Tarr of St. Petersburg speared a tourney-record 80-pound cubera on a wreck in 30 feet off Clearwater. On our boat, Chris Houk of Arcadia speared a 40-pounder on a wreck in 150 feet, and Jim Joseph of Port Charlotte got a second 30-pounder on another wreck in 140 feet.
Other fish: Grouper are still steady at deeper than 90 feet, and the thermocline that plagued divers all summer is gone. Warmer water has pushed the grouper out farther; big ones are being taken in the Elbow and on ledges exceeding 130 feet. Hogfish are still in most depths, and mangrove snapper are on most ledges and wrecks in depths from 20 feet to the Middle Grounds.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com or (727) 344-3483.