The Tampa Bay Times

Divers have patiently waiting for the August 1st opening of the Gulf of Mexico Amberjack season.  This time of year, it is hard to find keeper size Amberjacks in water close to the shore.  The warm summer water pushes legal size Amberjacks far from shore.  For the divers who have the boat length and fuel budget to get 40 miles or more from shore, the Amberjacks are holding strong on wrecks, springs and some ledges.  Last week we dove on a wreck in 189’ for water with some Amberjacks that weighed well over 75 pounds.   The bigger Amberjacks were hanging at the bottom of the large Amberjack schools.

The smaller Gag Groupers have moved north for the cooler water, but it’s getting hard to find cooler water even north of Tarpon Springs.  South of the Middle Grounds the Gags have moved out to deeper water and now that Amberjack season is open, it’s time for to go farther to go for a Gag and Amberjack twofer.

On the deeper wrecks we found some tasty Mutton Snappers in the 15 pound class and African Pompano in the 20 to 30 pound class.  The water out in 170’ to 200’ was about 68 degrees under the thermocline and to the seabed.  Most of the fish were hovering just under the thermocline.  On most of the spots that we dove, the thermocline started 90 below the surface. 

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