Captain's Corner

By CHAD CARNEY, Times Correspondent
Published January 19, 2008

What's hot: Well, maybe not hot, but a moderate La Nina is continuing and water temperatures remain in the low 60s. By comparison, the El Nino of 2002-05 dropped winter Gulf of Mexico temperatures into the mid 50s. This data is downloaded from my dive computers on dives ranging from 40 to 130 feet offshore from St. Petersburg.

Gag grouper fest: Gags are in all depths and, unlike summer gags, are moving more slowly. The only trouble remains getting offshore. Once there, visibility has been ranging from 10 to 20 feet, which is enough for seasoned spearfishermen. Wear your 5-millimeter to 7-millimeter wetsuit and add a tuck-in hood or hooded vest to handle the cold water.

An alternative: There is no better time to dive the southeast coast of Florida, which provides wind shelter from cold fronts. Water temperatures remain in the mid 70s, with visibility of 60 to 100 feet. Reefs and wrecks are plentiful just a mile or two off the beach. Fish seem to migrate more on these narrow fishing areas and the gags are in thick from Jupiter to Miami.

Correction: Speargun Hunter TV is on the Outdoor Channel at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information go to outdoorchannel.com.

Chad Carney teaches diving and spearfishing in the Tampa Bay area and can be reached at mobilescuba.com or (727) 423-7775.