What's hot: Hogfish are still plentiful in most depths for those spearfishing. From depths of 35 to 65 feet, the biggest male hogfish being taken are in the 4- to 5-pound class. Mangrove snapper are on many spots and are looking healthy. Gag grouper season is still open, but the shallow-water gags are getting wary and observant of divers.
Tactics: Spend more time looking rather than swimming. You may catch a wary gag lurking under the overhang of a ledge or enveloped in the shadow of a ledge or rock. Gags are unpredictable when spooked: Sometimes they hide, sometimes they run out into the sand. So if you disturb some gags in front of you as you swim, don't forget to look closely in the sand just 20 to 30 feet from the structure for a hiding gag. They hide out in the open by camouflaging themselves. They will turn their body color from dark brown and olive grey to a pale or creamy white to match the sand, so go slow and look carefully.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.