What's hot: Grouper and hogfish are everywhere, not only around shallow ledges and rock piles offshore, but they're also plentiful inshore. River mouths, inlets and bay waters are producing good numbers. Many divers have been getting their limit of grouper and hogfish while diving without a boat — inshore around legal bridges, rock piles and transition zones. Most have been free diving and spearing gag grouper up to 10 pounds and hogfish up to 7 pounds.
Dive safely: It's easy to get complacent while diving close to shore, but don't forget a diver-down flag. Also, make sure the areas you plan to visit are legal diving areas. Go to myfwc.com for information on legal diving areas and inshore diving regulations.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com or at (727) 344-3483.