The warm weather and minimal seas the past few waning days of 2016 prompted many anglers and spearfishers to go offshore and target gag grouper before the season closed on Jan. 1. The news was good for many of them. From depths of 30 to 150 feet our divers were finding nice gags on many of their spots. With gag season closed many divers geared up for the challenge of amberjack season. Even though the meat of the grouper is more highly regarded than that of the amberjack, the challenge of the greater underwater fight of the 'jack has lured many spearfishers to the offshore wrecks, sinkholes and big ledges of the gulf. And the cooling water temperatures are moving bigger amberjack closer to shore. This past week our divers speared a few 'jacks up to 55 pounds in water as shallow as 65 feet. The underwater visibility was down to about 15 feet. Lower visibility will be okay for spearing bigger 'jacks since they might give a diver a second look versus the wary bigger gags that only give a diver one chance for a good shot.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and [email protected]