Spearfishing Forecast – March 2017

Sheepshead photo by Bob Stapelton.
Sheepshead photo by Bob Stapelton.

March waters are as unpredictable as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s harvest rules. The winds are usually out of the southwest which makes for warmer days. With warm days, the desire to go dive grows stronger, however, you still need to be careful. March winds can make for high seas and poor visibility. Even with the warmer days, the water’s still cold, ranging from the mid-50s to mid-60s. By the end of March, the water normally starts to warm up to the mid-70s.

The colder water normally means fantastic visibility because the algae hasn’t bloomed yet, but high winds can stir up the sea floor around shallow reefs and wrecks, even in the deeper waters. Knowing that the visibility may be poor, use a reference line, i.e. anchor scope or a buoy line, to get to the bottom, then use your basic navigation skills you learned in your open water dive class. Always take a heading the way you want to swim, and then set the compass bezel to your heading. This makes it easier to find your reciprocal heading. You can also count your fin kicks so you know your distance from your starting point. Remember, the current can push you sideways, putting you off course and away from your target. Be sure to make up for this difference on your reciprocal trip back. Keep your buddy in sight at all times during a low visibility dive.

With the unusually warm winter this year, many of the mid- to late-spring fish have already moved in. You can find sheepshead, pompano, and even large mangrove snapper on the near shore reefs and wrecks. Be careful not to shoot the pompano, as tempting as it is, it’s illegal to spear them. Despite the rule, have fun with them on hook and line during your surface intervals. By the end of March, or sooner, we should start to see cobia move in so keep an eye out, you never know what you might see out there. As always Plan your Dive and Dive your Plan.


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