Spearfishermen and women finally received great offshore underwater visibility starting a couple of weeks ago. The visibility had been very poor for more than a month. The better visibility is now starting to decline, and some areas are still clear, so hit a number of areas if you aren't happy with the visibility that you're finding. In depths just north of John's Pass in 35 feet, the top to bottom visibility of two weeks ago is down to only about 5 feet. Our divers who went a little deeper, to 50 feet, were granted more than 30 feet of visibility and there were plenty of hogfish and snapper. Red grouper are open in state waters, not federal waters, and we got some 8- to 9-pounders south of St. Petersburg in depths of 21 feet. At these depths and in that geographic area, we had about 15 feet of visibility. The state and federal boundary line is 9 nautical miles from land, so make sure you are inside that distance if taking red grouper. The bottom temperature is hovering about 68 degrees, so a high quality 3mm full wet suit is adequate for larger divers, for others a wet suit or Lavacore beanie cap or hood will be a big help. The head needs the most heat, so covering it with thermal material is a smart move for all divers when the temperature drops below 74.
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]