Tips: This time of year spearfishing is better in water deeper than the open-water scuba certification diving limit of 100 feet. Advanced and deep-dive-certified divers are finding more fish in depths from 100-130 feet. Because gag grouper is closed, the majority of grouper hunters are targeting red groupers and the occasional legal-sized scamps. Decent-sized red groupers and amberjacks are in waters deeper than 100 feet. Cobia in the 20-30 pound class are being spotted on wrecks in less than 100 feet. Larger cobia are swimming around deeper wrecks. A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to spear and harvest a cobia that weighed 81 pounds.
What's hot: Hogfish and mangrove snappers are populating most depths. Our divers have located bigger hogfish in depths of 60-90 feet, but plenty of legal-sized hogfish are in shallower water. Gag groupers are in almost every depth and on every type of structure. The season is scheduled to open Sept. 16. The season is open for two months. Some folks might skip work on opening day to search for gags on the ledges, rock piles and wrecks in the gulf.
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]