Shallow-water spearfishing: From 30 to 50 feet, divers are finding plenty of hogfish, mangrove snapper and moderate-sized red grouper. Gag grouper are plentiful on every ledge and wreck, but the season is still closed for most of the state until July 1. The water temperature at that depth is hovering around 74 degrees, so wet suits are still being used by most divers, but the lighter 3 millimeters and 3 millimeters/2 millimeters full suits are all that are needed now.
Moderate to deep spearing: Underwater visibility is a little worse in 60 to 130 feet of water. The hogfish and red grouper are bigger at these depths, but the water is cooler and not holding as many fish as the shallower sites. Amberjack are in these depths, but finding legal-sized amberjack (30 inches measured to the fork) is getting harder.
Helitrox and deep air divers who are certified to go more than 130 feet are finding even bigger red grouper, bigger amberjack, legal scamps, some black grouper and pelagics. We dove ledges and potholes from 140 to 150 feet Saturday and boarded the boat with a black grouper of more than 80 pounds, several amberjack of more than 50 pounds, some 10-pound scamps and even African pompano. The thermocline at these depths lower the visibility to 25 feet and the temperature was 64 degrees.
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]