What's hot: The last couple of storm fronts have brought rough surface conditions, but underwater visibility has been stellar. This week we had divers in depths from 30 to 70 feet just west of Sarasota and John's Pass, and the visibility was good from top to bottom. We found more fish in 30-40 feet. However, keeper-sized red grouper didn't start to show up until we were in depths exceeding 65 feet. Hogfish and snapper are still occupying most of the ledges and rock piles.
Follow the bait: It's the same old rule: "Find the bait, and you find the fish." We dived two ledges about a mile apart, and the only difference was one had a good bait contingent and the other was void of bait. The ledge without the bait was a virtual ghost town. The ledge with the good bait pods held plenty of fish and spearing opportunities.
Spearing in bait pods: Finding big bait pods on a dive site can work to your advantage. The distraction caused by the chaos of the flickering bait can cover your presence. Slowly move around the edges of the bait and watch for larger fish attacking. When you catch one offguard, be ready for the shot. Lineshafts are a must when using this technique.
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.