What's hot: The 26-day federal American red snapper season that started June 1 still has a few days to go. As most anglers and divers know, these fish are often found in water deeper than 80 feet. We caught many on hook and line over swiss cheese hard-bottom areas in depths starting at 120 feet due west of Sarasota and St. Petersburg. Fishing is easier than spearfishing over these areas. Red snapper tend to rise off the bottom and move toward the boat, but once a spearfisherman enters the water, they spread out and head for the bottom. If a spearfisherman is fortunate enough to get off a good shot before the snapper disappear, a tasty snapper will make it into the cooler.
Spearing techniques: When diving for red snapper over these sparse hard-bottom and swiss cheese areas, a spearshaft attached to a line is a must. Many experienced spearfishermen use a freeshaft (a spearshaft with no line attachment, like an arrow from a bow), and taking shots at fish that don't have any large structure to run into prompts them to take off and get lost in the sand. Shooting these fish up in the water column with a freeshaft also lends itself to losing the shaft, which can travel all the way through the fish and to the bottom and be lost in the sand.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and firstname.lastname@example.org.