Captain's Corner

By Bill Hardman, Times Correspondent
Published March 1, 2008

Some grouper attainable: Since the federal grouper closure on Feb. 15, I get confused fishers and spearfishers calling almost every day. Many are not aware that state waters are open to grouper.

Nine nautical miles or 10.25 statute miles from shore are still open to grouper fishing. Patches of gag grouper of keeper sizes have been found in these shallow waters and this recent cold snap may bring more into state waters.

Also available: For divers, the hogfish are showing strong on the limestone reefs and ledges. Amberjack and mangrove snapper are available in good numbers.

Tournament news: The 2008 Tampa Bay Spearfishing Club's Winter Invitational is scheduled for March 22 at Fort De Soto. This tournament is economical to enter and it is scheduled this early in the year to take advantage of the offshore fish being in the shallower waters. Proceeds go to supporting divers' rights, according to club officer Dean Karikas. For information visit tampabayspearfishingclub.org or check the tournament thread on spearfishingplanet.com.

Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and freediving classes at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. You can reach him at (727) 344-DIVE or bill@aodive.com.