Sheepshead in shallow and snappers out deeper. That’s been the plan for January divers. In the mouth of the Tampa bay and out to about 30 feet of water the sheepshead are thick and some big sheeps are in the heavy concentrations of these fish. A couple of our divers speared some over eight pounds only 9 miles offshore. The underwater visibility is best south of Tampa bay and it has made it easier to spot and spear some of these big sheeps. Don’t take hunting these bigger sheeps for granted, the bigger fish are the older ones and they’ve been around the block a few times. If you’re looking for a big one, peek under the limestone ledges with your underwater light and calmy watch the sheeps flirt around. If you can hold off taking the first good shot at the first fair sized fish, then once the fish calm down, the bigger ones will creep out from the back of the pack and offer you a shot.
Out in 80 to 100 feet the bottom temperature a couple days ago was a warming up 70 degrees. South of St. Petersburg these depths have incredible visibility and the mangrove snappers are on the wrecks and springs. Some nice sized snappers are in these depths. Along with the snappers in these depths some keeper red grouper are intermixed. Keeper sized scamp grouper are hard to find but some keeper scamps are also holding in these depths.
Capt. Bill Hardman teaches scuba classes and runs trips for Scuba, Spearfishing, Freediving and Technical diving courses at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33710. You can reach Capt. Hardman at (727) 344-3483 (DIVE) or CaptainBillHardman@gmail.com