What's new: As spring spearfishing approaches, take time to plan an unforgettable dive trip. It has to be a site you've never dived, and it must be off the beaten path. In 1972 a dive I'll never forget was then called the Boca Grande wreck in 115 feet of water due west of Boca Grande. The upside-down freighter was my first deep ocean dive, and it was loaded with huge amberjack and goliath grouper, which hovered above the biggest propeller I'd ever seen. Now it's the Bay Ronto, and to this day I've yet to view a larger goliath or propeller. Another truly unforgettable dive was to the Roatan Express about six years ago. More fish circled above this small cargo ship than I've witnessed in more than 37 years of diving. Sunk in a 1992 storm, the wreck sits intact and upright in 190 feet off Naples. Spearing big red snapper and gag groupers were the highlight, but they had to be picked out of a blizzard of jacks, permit, mangrove snapper, goliath grouper and sharks.
What's up in 2010: It's fun to hit these old favorites and see how they've changed, but the dive that has eluded me for decades is a wreck far offshore on the way to the Dry Tortugas. I'm sure the Oiler will be unforgettable.
Chad Carney teaches scuba, freediving and spearfishing. Visit his Web site at floridaskindiver.com or call (727) 423-7775.