Shallow water: The water visibility for spearfishing in depths less than 45 feet has been great. Usually it's better farther offshore, but this week it has been better in shallow water and starts to get hazy around 50 feet. If there isn't too much rain this weekend and the southwest winds don't stir the bottom up, this exceptional shallow-water visibility might stick around for a while. With gag groupers still legal to take, the good visibility is a welcome treat.
Warmer water: The offshore bottom temperature west of St. Petersburg is now the same as in the Florida Keys - around 81 degrees. The warmer water has grouper, snappers, hogfish and other benthic fish a little livelier than a month ago, and they are all searching for schools of bait.
Spearfishing tournament: The Florida Freeshafters dive club hosts the first Florida Freeshafters Open May 21. The weigh-in and awards celebration will be the following day at O'Brien's Irish Pub in Brandon. See www.floridafreeshafters.com for more information or to register.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com or (727) 344-3483.