What's hot: The bottom temperatures are still hovering around the low 50s and the surface around the low 60s. Sheepshead are still on offshore ledges and reefs. Hogfish and mangrove snappers are plentiful in depths of 40 feet. Divers and fishermen are occasionally finding grouper within 10 miles of shore but stronger numbers and bigger fish are 25 miles out or more.
What to wear: Many divers can't wait to take off the wet suit hoods and free their heads and necks. The water is still cold, so keeping your head covered is important. If you hate hoods, try 3-millimeter or 2mm beanie caps. Caps don't wrap around your neck and tuck into your wet suit top. They have less coverage but still retain body heat.
Big event: Sunday, the Tampa Bay Spearfishing Club holds its Winter Invitational Spearfishing Tournament. Weigh-in is at 10:30 a.m. at the Winghouse Restaurant in Pinellas Park, on U.S. 19. Besides watching the weigh-in, the public can participate in fundraising raffles and games to help local charities. Go to tampabayspearfishingclub.org for details.
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.