Saturday, March 24, 2018

Captain's Corner: Going after amberjack

Good breaks in the weather in the Gulf of Mexico over the past couple of weeks have allowed divers to go into deeper water to challenge the silver-and-amber-colored greater amberjack. Amberjacks are pretty easy to find on the larger wrecks and sinkholes in depths deeper than 80 feet. The bigger ones are in depths of 100 to 120 feet. Everyone is enjoying the amberjack "challenge." These strong fish can test and conquer a lot of your equipment. Pelagic fish such as amberjacks don't quit or give up, until they're dead. When you spear an amberjack, your work has just started. If you're lucky enough to stone your amberjack, feel blessed. I have shot hundreds of amberjacks with well-placed shots directly through the spine or the brain with a stunning shot, just to witness the fish roll its eyes and come back to life. And when they regain their position, the fight is on. Be ready for the fight. First, review all your connectors and swivels on your line system and look for defects. Look for fraying and knots on nylon line; look for chaffing and knots on mono line; double check your connections on your Kevlar and Spectra line; and straighten out sharp bends and wear on steel cable. A dive knife is a tool, not a shark-defense device. Have a quick cutting knife or line cutter that is easy to reach and use it if you get tangled up with a crazy amberjack that can wrap you up and hurt you. There's no shame in cutting the line loose, living to see another day.

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]


Captainís Corner: Erratic weather making offshore fishing unpredictable

Continued heavy winds have kept offshore fisheries from settling in to predictable patterns. When things have calmed, nearshore baitfish have bunched up and kingfish and Spanish mackerel settled in around them. Unfortunately, each cold front has chur...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Snook bite is best now in afternoon

So what happened to our spring weather in February? The weather has the fish moving back and forth between their winter and summer spots, and with April just a few weeks away, the air temperature is warming up and should be in the upper 70s and low 8...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/22/18

Captainís Corner: Windy conditions limit fishing options

The weather and water temperature roller coaster continues. Finding consistent action has been difficult with windy conditions keeping us from fishing many open parts of the bay or out into the gulf. Hiding in secluded backwater areas or on leeward s...
Published: 03/20/18
Updated: 03/21/18

Captainís Corner: Grouper moving in as water temperatures rise

Red grouper have made their move inshore this past week as waters closer to shore have warmed up a bit. Concentrate your efforts on hard bottom areas in depths of 100-120 feet for the rest of the month, and remember that all shallow water grouper are...
Published: 03/18/18
Updated: 03/20/18

Captainís Corner: Cold causes spiny lobsters to go into hiding

The cold front that ended Wednesday drove the offshore bottom temperatures back down into the low 60s. On dives Friday, my dive computer read 62 degrees at the bottom in 54 feet of water. On the next dive it read 60 in 62 feet. We were looking for ho...
Published: 03/18/18

Captainís Corner: Snook are the hot bite

Surface water temperatures have dipped into the low 60s, but the fish donít seem to mind. The longer days get the temperature up and helps keep it from getting into the danger zone at night. Snook have been the hot bite this past week and, believe it...
Published: 03/16/18
Updated: 03/17/18

It has been a crazy month regarding all the drastic weather changes. We experienced a record-breaking warming trend in February, followed by an endless amount of cold weather this month. The arrival times for many spring migrations of fish has been i...
Published: 03/16/18

Captainís Corner: Big trout moving out of the shallows

February seemed like March with record-breaking heat, but now March seems like February with below-average temperatures. This is a good thing. Spring fishing has started way too early in the past few years. The cold-water temperature we have now will...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Captainís Corner: Temperature changes affect fly fishing

Having a fantastic river trip one day where we caught a lot of snook in shallow water on a fly and going back to the same location three days later and not finding any cooperative fish can be very puzzling. What happened? Recent warm weather was repl...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/14/18

Captainís Corner: Warming trend increasing activity over grass flats

Water temperatures have finally started to climb into the low 70s on the flats. The temperatures have been fluctuating with the past few cold fronts moving through. Large schools of reds should start showing up on the flats in the Pinellas Point area...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/13/18