What's hot: Gag grouper, hogfish, snapper, scamp, sheepshead and porgies are thick in depths of 40 feet or less. Even better, the underwater visibility in these shallow depths is good. The surface water temperatures are hovering around 82 degrees and the bottom is a couple of degrees cooler. Usually when the water is still this warm, the shallow-water visibility is not as good.
Bigger gags: This past week we found most of the fish 10-15 miles offshore. Most of the gag grouper have been in the 6- to 10-pound range, but in the past couple of weeks our divers are spearing the occasional 15- to 20-pounder. The bigger gags are still cautious. Some stay out in the sand and instead of turning creamy white to match the sand, we found a few of the bigger ones on the sandy bottom exhibiting dark coloration, resembling a small rock or small piece of ledge. Look carefully, as they are good at acting like a rock.
Shark population: Every avid Gulf of Mexico spearfisherman can attest that this summer we've had more sharks approaching us and our speared fish than years before. The shark population has been increasing every year, but this year they seemed to be a little more aggressive. The good news is the sharks have thinned out and most have moved out of our area.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and [email protected]