The Tampa Bay Times
Finding and spearing fish this time of year is tough. In late August and September, the summer rains provide heavy runoff from the land and the silt, fertilizer, and other debris from the land make the bay and offshore water hazy. This hazy water seriously limits the visibility in water less than 60’ to 80’. The water is also the warmest in these months and many microscopic and small organisms are growing rapidly. These organisms stay suspended in the water column and they block out light. Low visibility makes seeing the fish and taking a good shot at close range very tricky. Experienced spearfishermen have many years of spearing in limited visibility and they are not deterred from the low visibility. In fact, some experienced spearfishermen like low visibility because they believe the fish can’t see the divers well either and divers have a better chance of sneaking up on the fish. The divers who have only a couple years of spearing under their belt have a rough time getting good shots before the fish ghost-out into the haze. This is a good time of year for spearfishermen to go macro (close up). Instead of looking for shots in front or above the structure, many experienced divers focus their attention on the fish that are hiding way up in the ledges and structures. A good dive light and patience are the key to this technique. This technique is called “grouper digging” and that’s what it is. Close up seeing, spearing and digging out the fish.
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