The end of the 2018 will ring in the end to the Gag Grouper season in the Gulf of Mexico. The days that have smooth seas are very few this time of year Many divers are working diligently to get offshore to spear a few more Gags in between the rough cold fronts and their pesky work schedules. Adding to the troubles of these Gag spearfishermen is the lack of water clarity. Last week, some of our divers were spearing west of Bayport, in depths from 60’ to 10’. They couldn’t see the end of their speargun at any of the depths until they made it to 12’ of water. In 12’, Gags up to 30 inches were there to be harvested. Offshore of St. Petersburg, our divers had to go all the way out to 110’ of water to get a mere 20’ feet of visibility. Shallower than that, the visibility was too low to successfully see, hunt and gather speared fish.
The good news is the Florida Spiny Lobsters. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a good number of divers coming into the dive shop and showing us the pictures of their recently harvested lobsters. One of the lobsters was taken in 40’ of water and it was just over ten pounds. When bottom visibility is bad divers tend to get closer to the ledges to look underneath for fish and they inadvertently end up seeing more lobsters under the structure than they would if they were hunting fish, 10’ to 15’ above the ledge.
Capt. Bill Hardman teaches classes and runs trips for Scuba, Spearfishing, Technical & Freediving 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