The Tampa Bay Times
Red tide in top to bottom out to 9 miles from shore and has spread as far north as Tarpon Springs. The surface has red tide as far out as 60 feet of water. This means that our divers need to cover their faces, to make breathing easier while running the boat out passed the red tide. Most of the bottom fish have died or moved to deeper water to get away from the red tide. This has made for some good concentration of groupers, snappers, hogfish and more bottom fish in the cleaner water just west of the red tide occupation. Hogfish numbers are still strong in depths of 60’ to 100’. The Florida Middle Grounds area is still producing some hogfish in the 15 to 18 pound range. The distance is more than 75 miles from Johns Pass, but when the weather allows a boat run that far the “grounds” are welcoming divers with good hogfish numbers and those big boys are mixed in with the harem of female hogfish. Gag grouper are also in the “grounds”. Over the past few weeks, some of our divers have speared gag groupers in the 25 to 30 pound range. Don’t be mesmerized by the sight of 25’ high ledges on your bottom machine while in the “grounds”, this time of year the gags are holding up on the smaller relief ledges and single big rock areas. Most of the bigger gags can be found on ledges that are only 2 to 4 feet high.
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