This week many of the best spearfishing divers in the state were scouting for today's 39th annual St. Pete Open.
Fortunately this event was spared Hurricane Charley's wrath, and most offshore waters are clear from 40 to 220 feet. In the deeper spots scuba divers will bring in most of the monster groupers and amberjacks at close to 100 pounds, hogfish around 20 and lobster around 10 pounds. Top free divers such as Chad Palan with his 37.8-pound cubera snapper have mastered the snapper division for the past few years. Working depths more than 80 feet, they also can place well with sheepshead, cobia and barracuda.
Wednesday we tried to find spots that held bait and the species we hoped to spear in the tournament without diving the locations we had planned for the tournament. Diving your honey holes can spook your prey. Many other divers were out in popular areas such as the Middle Grounds and Elbow, and nobody wants to get caught on a site just three days before the event.
The theory that fish move to structure after a storm seems to be true. We saw and shot some big grouper and hogfish near well-known reefs. Oddly we found one area in the 140-foot depths that had less than 5 feet of visibility.
Chad Carney teaches scuba and spearfishing and runs charters out of St. Petersburg. Call 727 423-7775 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org