What's hot: Grouper are showing up in depths from 30 to 100 feet. The underwater visibility has improved dramatically over the past couple of weeks and now fish can be easier to find and ethically hunt. Gag and red groupers are in many areas. Hogfish are still the most abundant fish species found by spearfishermen. Cobia have been taken by divers from Venice to as far north as Crystal River. I have been keeping fish concentration records since the mid 1980s, and last year was one of the best years for Cobia in the Gulf of Mexico. This year is starting to look like another banner Cobia year.
Finding them: Your best bet for finding concentrations of grouper is to find concentrations of bait. Using your bottom machine, look for schools of bait moving back and forth over structure. Hanging under the bait, in ambush, should be grouper and snapper.
Exciting visions: This time of year, diving in the gulf is very exciting. Migrating bait gets almost all the fish into a predatory frenzy. I like to relax on the bottom and look up to watch the show. Witnessing the spring dance of the bait and predators is one of the most incredible underwater sights in the gulf.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 344-3483.