The Tampa Bay Times

Divers are loving the concentrations on gag groupers in almost all depths and all waters.  In the shallow depths and calm waters inside Tampa Bay, gags are being speared in relatively good visibility. A short boat ride or kayak trip has put many of our divers within reach of their daily limit of the tasty gag groupers.  Finding legal sized gags in inland waters has been relatively easy.  Freedivers are more successful due to their quieter approach on the groupers and in close water quarters the absence of sounds gives the advantage to the hunter.  Many of the sharks have thinned out and headed south but don’t get too complacent as a few hungry bull sharks can quickly pop up and cut a speared fish in two.  Don’t clip your stringer with a fish on it to your body as a quick bite for the fish can wrap the sharks’ teeth around your leg and that can be serious.  Also, in the shallow waters of the bay, hogfish can be speared around the artificial structure and debris left on the bottom of the bay waters. Stone crab season is still going strong and while looking under cover for groupers, hogfish and snappers, keep a keen eye for the tasty stone crabs.  With all these choices for great table fare by staying inshore a successful dinner trip shouldn’t be hard to get.  Make sure you are flying the boat divers’ down flag if diving from a boat and the smaller divers’ down flag if you are not close to a boat and are pulling your flag and float as you dive.

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