Scuba certification will increase every bottom fisherman's catch. Whenever I get the chance, I don mask, fins, weight belt and tanks and join the fish in their environment, not to spearfish, but to observe what happens. Diving gives one the opportunity to see in person what our depth finders show in two-dimension. Diving also allows one to observe the interaction of the fish on a reef and how each species orients itself to different structure.
Last week I was able to dive several times; each dive was like a seminar on bottom fishing. I knew that on a ledge 70 feet deep we would see several nice fish because I had had a party there and had broken off several grouper. I did see one of these fish because he had a Tru-turn hook with Uni-Knot stuck in his mouth _ the rig that I use! This fish had a large scrape on his head where he dove into a hole in the ledge to escape. He was 15 inches. I probably told my party he was 15 pounds because he broke off. We call them grouper and this was evident. The bigger fish were grouped together on several ledges I dove. One end of a ledge might have only smaller fish and the other several keepers. If you are fishing on a long ledge, it would be worthwhile to anchor it in several places.
There are many highly qualified diving instructors in our area. Choose one, get certified and jump into the water. It will be an eye-opening experience.
_ Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach.