Early this week divers had fun spearing fish off the Gulf Coast. Grouper catches have been better north of Clearwater, snapper are prolific in most areas and amberjack are holding strong.
The big story is the arrival of king mackerel. Most hookups have been off the beaches in relatively shallow water. We like to go out early, and after a couple hours of trying for kings we start looking for spots to dive.
The large schools of bait that attract kings also feed other fish, and they can help you find grouper. This time of year we do well on grouper when we find a concentration of bait on a shallow ledge, and we usually have one of our free divers do a quick drop to see if the bait has attracted any grouper. When we find them with the bait, it can be crazy. Grouper and snapper are so wrapped up feeding that we can sometimes slip right up on fish. Don't forget cobia. These brown brutes can slip up on you before you notice. Make sure you have strong equipment before you shoot one of these powerhouses - don't injure a fish that gets away because of inferior gear.
- Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 344-3483.