What's hot: Bigger grouper and amberjacks have started making their way into shallow waters. The concentrations are somewhat low, but over the past few weeks, the bigger ones have been getting caught and speared. Water temperatures on the bottom have dropped in spots from 70 degrees to 65. For divers, water visibility has been pretty good. In depths from 50 to 80 feet, visibility has stayed from 20 to 30 feet, respectively.
What to wear: Good wet suits with a beanie cap or a hood are a must. Old wet suits that have not recovered from years of being compressed and recompressed offer only minimal protection. This might be the year to invest in a new, better-fitting suit. With the recent advent of super stretch suits such as the Pinnacle Elastiprene and Scubamax Super Stretch, suits of thicker composition are more comfortable to wear. One of the best advancements is suits lined with merino wool. This soft, nonitchy wool is exothermic, which means it releases a significant amount of heat as it absorbs water. That's a diver's dream: a wet suit that gets warmer when water is introduced.
Nice fish: Last week, Cory Moon of St. Petersburg, a member of the Tampa Bay Spearfishing Club, speared an 82-pound amberjack while diving a wreck in 75 feet of water west of Sarasota. Cory said it was the lone big fish hanging out with other jacks.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and freediving classes at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Ave., St. Petersburg 33710. You can reach him at (727) 344-3483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.