Daily fishing report

Published May 7, 2005

Springtime divers are starting to get to the dive shops to prepare for more tolerable late spring water temperatures. If you're one of them, your timing is perfect. The water is in the low 70s, and a good 3-millimeter full wet suit will give most divers proper thermal protection. Those who get cold fairly easily should wear a beanie cap or hooded vest.

The best part of spearfishing now is the fair to good visibility and respectable numbers of fish on the ledges and wrecks in the gulf. This is a good time to find keeper grouper and the occasional 10-pounder plus on the ledges from 40 to 60 feet. During our last clear weather spell, Carl Johnson of St. Petersburg took a few divers from Canada to an artificial reef to see more than a dozen goliath grouper. After that dive, he brought his new spear gun to a small ledge and harvested a 15-pound gag grouper.

Hogfish are still present on most ledges, and this week Dean Karikas of St. Petersburg shot a 4- to 5-pounder while diving the pipeline in 60 feet. The fish are out there, so dust off your gear, get it checked and join the rest of us who have been diving throughout the cold-water months.

Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg. Call (727) 344-3483.