What's hot: Starting today, state waters are the place to look for gag grouper. With the federal closure in effect, gag grouper within state waters (9 nautical miles off the coast) are the only ones that can be taken legally. The past month has been hot for grouper, which have loaded up on the ledges and wrecks. The best news is that most of these fish have been in shallow water. When the seas get rough, grouper move to the bigger ledges then head for smaller ledges if the weather calms.
Visibility: For divers, visibility has been poor. This week in spots as deep as 130 feet, our divers have found visibility of less than 10 feet. In depths of 80 feet and less, the visibility has been 4-5 feet. And in shallower depths, the visibility went to zero. Areas protected from the high winds, high waves and stirred-up water have had good visibility. Spots in Tampa Bay have had more than 15 feet of visibility, and for most places that's top to bottom visibility.
Capt. Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and freediving courses at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 33710. Reach him at (727) 344-DIVE or CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com.