Finding fish in the gulf is a hit-and-miss proposition. In most areas, water clarity is improving.
The secret is a flexible schedule so storms can be avoided. Wrecks in deeper water still are producing amberjacks and snappers.
In the past few weeks, the Middle Grounds, with its warmer water, has been hot for hook fishing and spearfishing. St. Petersburg's Jose Pais came up with a bent spear shaft and 60-pound gag grouper. Tampa's Mike Taylor came up from a 120-foot dive with a 23.8-pound hogfish.
It is tempting during winter to challenge the weather fronts and heavy seas. But every once in a while, we are reminded that Mother Nature can catch anglers with their guard down. Two weeks ago, a vessel of scuba divers took on water and flipped in 80 feet. The divers were fortunate, another boater was close.
_ Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and freediving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 344-3483.