The Tampa Bay Times
Divers are having a banner year diving and catching stone crabs. St. Petersburg and area south of the city seem to have higher concentrations of stone crabs. Just ten to twenty miles north of St. Petersburg the regular stone crab areas seem to have less crabs than the last couple years. Most of our divers think that the heavier summer red tide occurrences in areas north of St. Petersburg might have led to the current lower stone crab numbers in those areas. Crab claws have been running big and most of the divers and those with crab traps are finding good numbers of “colossal” and “jumbo” size crab claws. Gag groupers are still being found in the bay and on the offshore ledges. The visibility has been good in the bay and a little worse offshore. Hogfish can be found hanging out with the gag groupers in both the bay and offshore. The offshore visibility has had more bad days rather than good days. When the visibility was good enough to see and shoot – gags, mangrove snappers and hogfish can be found on most of the limestone ledges. Like always, the better concentrations of these fish can be found under the bigger schools of bait. Florida Spiny lobster season is still open and for the diver’s who remember to look under every ledge, they may be rewarded with a large spiny lobster or a small cache of tasty shovelnose (slipper) lobsters.
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