What's hot: Gag, red and scamp grouper are scattered all over the ledges and wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico. The concentrations of all these fish, in 40 to 100 feet of water, are good. Occasionally, we saw 15-pound gags in these depths, but deeper water held larger grouper. We found red grouper in all depths from 40 to 100 feet, but there were more keeper gags on the ledges than reds. In all depths there were a few keeper scamp grouper swimming under the bait balls on most spots that we dove. The scamp were a little wary, and it was hard to get close enough for a good shot.
Wet suit still needed: Though the water is warming, the bottom temperature is still in the upper 60s in some spots and low 70s in others. Now is one of the best times of the year to go spearfishing. A 3-millimeter full wet suit can handle the cooler water. Fish are everywhere, and good weather weekends like this one make for a fun day on and under the water.
State championship: The 47th Southern Open, the state championship spearfishing and underwater photography tournament, is June 11-13. The weigh-in is at Gators on the Pass in Treasure Island. Go to divefsda.com to find out how to participate.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 344-3483.