Keeper-size red grouper remain spotty, starting in 75- to 80-foot depths. Larger ones are turning up in the Middle Grounds. This past weekend some in the 15-18 pound range were speared. The largest red grouper are still coming from south of Venice. The pothole bottom areas seem to hold bigger groupers. These potholes are lined with lionfish so be careful when reaching in the hole to retrieve grouper. Even if you move them out of the way with your spear gun, they will turn around and swim back into the hole while you're grabbing grouper. African pompano are holding strong over the wrecks and sinkholes. Most of these are south of St. Petersburg in depths exceeding 130 feet. These fish are hard fighters, and it can be tough to get close to the bigger males for an accurate spear shot. Chumming the water and staying above the thermocline should put a diver in the right place. The chum will hold and distract the fish to enable a good shot.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and firstname.lastname@example.org.