What's hot: Gag grouper are much more concentrated in the untouchable federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is driving divers crazy to pass up so many fish. The mangrove snapper and hogfish are still scattered on most ledges and wrecks out to 130 feet. Keeper-sized amberjack are being spotted and taken on wrecks beyond 80 feet. Cobia are starting to move onto the wrecks and artificial structure. They are still few and far between, but the move is on.
What's out there: At last weekend's Tampa Bay Spearfishing Challenge, 147 entrants sought their best spearfishing spots in the gulf. A list of the top gutted fish weights, with species and spear anglers, turned in at the event: grouper (black), A.J. Suarez, 75.6 pounds; hogfish, Joe Scozzafava, 13.8; amberjack, Anthony Vale, 45.35; cobia/barracuda, Trey Stickland, 33.45; snapper, Bill VanDeman, 7; sheepshead, Koa Viravong, 5.1.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com or (727) 344-3483.