Less Than Clarity H2O? It’s Good Spearfishing!

By: Capt. Chad Carney

I hear this line all the time, “I hate the Gulf’s low viz in shallow water and long boat rides!” I always reply, “Head on over to West Palm and down to Key Largo for shallow H2O, great viz and short boat rides.” “But the Atlantic has short seasons, tiny fish in shallow and only expert spearos shooting deep get fair sized fish over there!”

Sheri Daye’s triplet gag groupers all-in-1-shot, a few miles offshore in 10’ of water & 6’ visibility! I shot a 12# gag kayaking 20 yards off Bradenton Beach and viz shorter than my 50” gun. We both held our guns back like billiards sticks and thumbed the triggers. When viz is this poor and small fish are in your face, kneel on the bottom and wait for bigger ones. My 12# gag took a dozen long freedives. Viz is usually better on incoming and slack high tides.

Most of SWFL has 20’+ viz on the 10-fathom line, offshore about 18-25 nautical miles (nm). One exception is off the Everglades. The D-Tower had 3’ viz at 19nm from Everglades City Pass. T-Tower at 40 nm & P-Tower at 52nm from the Glades have 20+ viz. When this near shore, avoid high population areas with big rivers. Bradenton to Boca Grande, and Bonita Beach to Naples, and Marco Island to Key West are all good. 30+’ viz is found on the 20-fathom line, about 35nm-55nm. This far out good shooters with long guns hang high and use gravity and multiple spears for good shots on big fish.  Diving the Gulf for 50 years, I’ve never seen 100’ viz, not even 220’ deep. Best viz has been 60’-75’, 15nm N of Dry Tortugas in 140’ depths and following the 30-fathom line, out 75nm-95nm off Marco Island to Anna Maria Island. In very clear water, smart quality fish see us first, and stay out of our range. Most line guns top range is 27’-30’ and freeshafts at 40’-45’. Acting uninterested helps us get kills and sometimes we’re just lucky when deep fish get curious. Summer begins June 21st and Gulf gag season opens June 1st thru Dec 31st . Red snapper season is June 17th thru July 31st and October 8-9th, 15-16th, 22-23rd and Nov 11-13th, and 25-27th. See myfwc.com and gulfcouncil.org for any updates.

I love the Gulf of Mexico!

Captain Chad Carney – Diving Instructor & Journalist

mobile: 727-423-7775

e-mail: chad.carney@yahoo.com