What's hot: Shallow-water spearing in the Gulf of Mexico. Last week, we found plenty of gag grouper, red grouper, hogfish, triggerfish and mangrove snapper in 50 to 60 feet of water, north and south of the ditch. In shallower water, the visibility would drop to make for unsafe spearfishing. Any deeper didn't produce more fish. The hogfish were plentiful, and some nice-sized males were taken. Most grouper were 24-30 inches. Occasionally, we would get a fleeting glance at 20-pound grouper as they vanished into the haze. The water temperature was a comfortable 84 degrees. A dive skin is all that's needed, and the seas have been calm. Just be careful not to get caught in one of these furious summer thunderstorms.
What's not: The Florida Middle Grounds has bad diving conditions. The bottom temperature this week was 66, and visibility was bad in almost all areas. The fish are few and far between. For now, save your fuel dollars and stay in close.
Around the corner: The World Spearfishing Championship is next month and the 43rd St. Pete Open is Aug. 15-17 at the Holiday Inn Sunspree in St. Petersburg. To find out more about this event, go to www.spearfishingspuc.org or call SPUC president Ritchie Zacker at (813) 679-5714.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 344-3483.