What's hot: Mangrove snapper are thick on ledges from 38 to 60 feet. The small bait on shallow limestone ledges bring these schooling snappers to a frenzy. The snapper were intertwined with groups of gag grouper, and both were feeding heavily on the 1- to 2-inch bait. Gag grouper are still in a closed season, and we found large numbers more than 22 inches on every spot we dived. Nice male hogfish in the 4- to 6-pound range are being speared in these depths.
Farther offshore: Legal-sized amberjack and red grouper are much farther from shore. Our divers are finding both, but at more than 30 miles out. The amberjack are hanging over large holes and springs as much as the wrecks. The bigger red grouper are scattered over potholes in the hard bottom.
St. Pete Open: The weigh-in for the World Spearfishing Championships starts at 6 p.m. today at the Magnuson Hotel, Marina Cove and is open to the public. See www.stpeteopen.com to find out more.
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.