August always has challenges for spearfishermen seeking summer grouper. Most keeper red grouper have headed to water deeper than 90 feet. Reds weighing more than 15 pounds are in 150 feet and deeper. Gag grouper are still in pocket ledges and unmolested haunts that keep a bait pod on site. Smaller, more hidden spots should hold some wary August gags. Gags are spread out from in the bay to the Middle Grounds. In mid August the deeper waters usually hold a fair selection of big gags and black grouper, but not this year. With the St. Pete Open (dubbed the world's largest spearfishing tournament) set for Saturday, many will be diving their best spots for their best fish. Usually this time of year there's a fair amount of black grouper over 50 pounds off Venice and north, in the Elbow. But scouting reports over the past month have not rendered many sightings of these big fish.
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]gmail.com.