tampabay.com

Daily fishing report

By BILL HARDMAN
Published November 18, 2006


What's hot: Grouper are moving into the shallower depths. The visibility in shallower offshore water is allowing for safer and more productive spearfishing. The schools of baitfish have pulled the grouper into hard-bottom areas and ledges in depths less than 60 feet. The snappers aren't missing out on the shallow water baitfish feast, either. Mangrove snapper are in their fall hunt mode.

What to look for: The snapper are attacking the baitfish in packs. When the baitfish make their way to the bottom, the snapper come out of their hideouts and gorge themselves. When the snapper get excited and are chasing bait, they show a black stripe from their nose through their eye and ending on their forehead. This darkened stripe looks just like the black "eye stripe" that regularly occurs on amberjacks. The grouper are hiding out under ledges, and they are usually in their dark color phase. When there are no ledges to hide in, they usually stay in the sand just off the hard bottom.

Tactics: If you're around the bait, don't swim too much. Let the bait and the snapper come to you. The grouper are easier to find when they are occupied with the bait. Swim slowly and look hard for these grouper in their different color phases.

Capt. Bill Hardman teaches scuba, freediving and spearfishing at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33710. You can reach Captain Hardman at 727 344-DIVE or bill@tampabayspear fishingclub.org