tampabay.com

Daily fishing report

By BILL HARDMAN
Published July 2, 2005


Red Tide and warmer gulf waters have resulted in longer boat trips to find the grouper and snapper. Most of the bottom fish have been found 30 miles or more offshore.

Being farther offshore not only magnifies the concerns of safe boating, but also for safe diving. Less traffic in deeper water means if you get away from your boat during a dive, there is less chance another boat will be nearby to help.

Two must-have items are the safety sausage and the dive alert whistle. If a fish drags you away from your boat or you find yourself in a strong current, it could be very hard to swim back to the boat and your buddies may not spot you.

The safety sausage is small, brightly colored and quickly inflatable. Usually two breaths fill it. Bright colors make it easier for boats and rescue aircraft to spot you. The dive alert whistle is an air powered device that attaches to your buoyancy compensator. Its alarm far exceeds the range of conventional whistles.

If you ever find yourself too far away from your boat to swim back, its important others hear and see you. Add these two inexpensive devices to your gear and you will be a safer diver.

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