The Tampa Bay Times

Diving in-shore has restricted visibility due to severe run off from the recent rains.  The underwater visibility in depths shallower than 60’ is murky and dark.  On some spots the visibility looks good from the gunnel of the boat, but the bottom of the Gulf is gloomy.  As you go farther off-shore the bottom of the Gulf lightens up and there is enough visibility to safely spear fish.  Farther off-shore, the better visibility is holding some nice size Red Groupers.  Most of these bigger Red Groupers are laying up in potholes in depths of 110’ and deeper.  In those same areas, Amberjacks can be found over the areas that have a few potholes spaced close to each other.  Be on the alert for these Amberjacks, they swiftly swim by the diver and they move in large circles around these pothole areas.  You may only get few seconds for a shot and then they move off.  Unlike seeing Amberjacks on wrecks and over big structure,  Amberjacks over potholes are scattered and will quickly disappear into the blue water.

Don’t forget to look for African Pompano hovering over areas that hold Amberjacks.  Most of the time these Pompano hang up higher in the water column, just over the Amberjacks.  They are strong fighters and amazing to see swimming in the water column.  Their long filamentous dorsal and anal fin tips present the look of a regal fish gliding effortlessly through the water.

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

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