What's hot: The bottom temperature of the Gulf is warming. A few weeks ago the bottom temperature hovered in the low 50s in 50 feet. This week it is in the upper 50s. The slightly warmer water gets the fish moving and lively, which is better for other anglers than spearfishermen. When the water is in the lower 50s the bite slows, making it easier for those using spears to approach the slower moving fish.
What's moving around: The sheepshead are still moving offshore, with big females full of roe leading the others. Hogfish sightings slowed a little in December and January but are picking up. Last year was the year of the hogfish. We speared many large hogfish in 100 feet and less. A diver speared a gutted 9.45-pound male in 94 feet in July. In closer depths hogfish in the 6- to 7-pound range were occasionally speared. Hopefully that will continue for 2014.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and firstname.lastname@example.org.