The diving off of Tarpon Springs is hot. This past week divers in the State Freedive Spearfishing tournament had almost top to bottom visibility in depths of 25 to 40 feet Most of the bottom rock piles and artificial structure are holding plenty of sheepshead, with some in the 5-pound range. Mangrove snapper are parading up and down the limestone ledges and darting in and out of the crevices in the rock piles. Find the large schools of bait fish and that's usually a good sign that most of the predator fish are feeding just below the bait. This time of year conditions can get very "fishy" — everything in the water going crazy and in a feeding frenzy. It's "fishy" when bait is well distributed on structure and hungry predators from snappers to sharks go nuts on the bait. Most sharks are pre-occupied with the easy fishing and not so intent on fighting a diver for the speared fish. But, be cautious in these "fishy" waters. The better visibility helps limit abrupt interactions with sharks. The underwater visibility is not as good farther south. Spearing hogfish remains productive south of Clearwater to just south of Sarasota.
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.