Red Snapper are everywhere and some nice ones in the 20 pound range have been caught fishing and speared over heavy bottom areas in the Gulf of Mexico. When I first moved to the St. Petersburg area in the early 1980s there were no Red Snappers to be found on our dive trips to the GOM. I grew up on the east coast of Florida and I was very familiar with Red Snapper and I was dismayed to find out that the eastern GOM was practically devoid of these great fish. Over the past thirty some years the areas offshore of St. Petersburg has bloomed with superior populations of these fish. They moved into our area from the north and slowly they populated our northern areas like the Florida Middle Grounds and now we find them on most dive spots as far south as Naples, Florida.
The 2019 Red Snapper season is open and doing well in the GOM. The fish is very tasty and fun to catch or spear. The larger offshore structure tends to hold the bigger fish, but don’t be surprised to see a 15 pound Red Snapper slowly swimming down a ledge in 60 feet of water. The Tampa Bay Spearfishing Challenge was moved to the rain date for this upcoming Sunday, June 23rd. Go to Ferg’s Sportsbar in St. Petersburg on Sunday, starting about 10:30 am and you could see a good amount of big Red Snappers being turned in at the weigh-in stage.
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