What's hot: Red snapper season opens in eight days, and the fish are almost everywhere — on wrecks, springs and hard bottom in depths exceeding 100 feet. Their numbers seem to have increased the past few years. Grouper are moving to deeper water. Over the past week or so, we have still found reasonable numbers of 10- to 15-pound gags in 40 to 80 feet.
Tactics: When you dive on a red snapper spot, big snappers will often swim up to you in the water column. A line shaft is the best way to shoot when these fish are off the structure. If you free-shaft, the spear could easily pass through the snapper. You would wound a fish that might get away and have to track down that expensive piece of steel.
Tournament: The 46th Florida Spearfishing and Photography Championships, called the Southern Open, will be at Gators on the Pass in Treasure Island. This tournament has trophies and prizes for all levels, from beginners to accomplished spearfishermen and photographers. The photography contest has three divisions and starts June 6. The spearfishing date is June 20. Check out www.divefsda.com for details, rules and registration forms.
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.