Inshore: Diving and spearfishing in the inland waters is at its best this time of year. The average visibility in bay waters from Apollo Beach to north of the bay bridges is about half to two-thirds of the depth. This time of the year divers can enjoy spearfishing in the bay and inland areas without the severe threat of running into a shark. Most of the sharks left the inland sanctuaries of the bay with the migratory fish in the fall and early winter.
Offshore: Hogfish are cruising along most of the offshore ledges, and there are still many in the 6- to 7-pound range being speared. Most of the bigger hogfish have been in depths of 40 to 70 feet. Flounder are showing up in the sandy areas around most of the offshore wrecks. Skirt the sandy areas just outside the wreck for these well-hidden fish. Keep a eye out and you may get a couple of nice-sized flounders on each wreck. Sometimes it is better to stab the flounder with your knife and then, while holding the fish down, look back to the wreck to see if the fluttering flounder has prompted a previously hidden fish to show itself. This way you still have a loaded speargun and you are ready to take the shot on the second fish.
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.