SW FL-Bonita Beach:Good Action and Variety Inshore& Offshore
Monday, 11/5, I fished about 22 miles west of New Pass with Mark Cavanaugh and friends. The four guys used live shrimp to land five gag grouper, three of which would have been keeper-size, to 23 inches, except for the fact that season closed for those five days ago. So we released all of those, along with a dozen red grouper to 17 ˝ inches, a mess of yellowtail snapper shorts and two undersized triggerfish. The guys kept fifteen nice lane snapper, two nice porkfish, a mess of large grunts and a white margate. They caught one keeper mangrove snapper at 13 ˝ inches, but the dolphin showed up on that spot right afterwards and put an end to the mangrove snapper fishing!
Tuesday evening, a mild cold front moved through the area, with increased winds and seas affecting the gulf. Wednesday morning, 11/7, I fished inshore in central Estero Bay, with Dave Mercer, Tom Butler and his daughter, Molly Butler, and Rob Knudson. The group used live shrimp for bait, and they caught two keeper redfish, one 19 ˝ inches and one 24 ˝ inches. They also caught an 18-inch sea-trout and two keeper mangrove snapper. They released twenty-five sheepshead shorts to just under 12 inches, along with two sailcats at 17 and 18-inches, and five stingrays to two pounds.
Anglers, Kari Vilamaa, George Dyer and Terry Keever had planned on fishing offshore Thursday, but small craft advisories due to high winds and seas put a crimp on that plan. So the guys decided to fish inshore in Estero Bay, where they used live shrimp to catch a keeper redfish at 19 inches, a 15-inch black drum, and one 13-inch keeper sheepshead, out of twenty sheepshead caught. They also released an 18-inch crevalle jack. We fished the lower part of the bay, out of the wind as much as possible.
Winds and seas remained high on Friday, causing my offshore trip to cancel for that day. Saturday, seas were still three-to-five feet offshore, so Bob and Stephanie Rose decided to fish inshore in Estero Bay with me. The couple caught two keeper black drum, one 15 inches and one 18 ˝ inches, along with a 14-inch keeper sheepshead and a 12-inch keeper mangrove snapper. They released about twenty short sheepshead, and caught everything on live shrimp.
Monday morning, 11/12, I fished in central Estero Bay, in wind-sheltered spots, with Jeannine Lamb and Kathy Kunce. The ladies used live shrimp to catch five black drum, three of which were keepers to 18 inches. They also caught three keeper sheepshead to 13 ˝ inches, and released twenty-five shorter ones. They caught a keeper permit and a keeper mangrove snapper also, so they were well fixed for a few fish dinners. They released an 18-inch, four-pound crevalle jack and two puffer-fish.
Mike Lischer and girlfriend, Bethany Wilczynski, joined by Mike’s brother and sister-in-law, John and Holly Lischer, their sixteen-year-old son, Cruise, and family friend Jeff Heimlich, fished 28 miles west of New Pass with me on Tuesday. Using live shrimp, the group did very well with red grouper, catching about twenty-five in all, including four keepers, one at 21 inches, two at 22 inches and one at 25 inches. They caught two nice hogfish at 15 inches and 17 inches, and also caught a mess of large grunts, and released all but five of those, and thirty porgies, of which they kept ten. They also released yellowtail and mangrove snapper short and gag grouper to 20 inches.
John and Toni Heinrich fished inshore with me Wednesday, in Estero Bay, using live shrimp. The couple caught a 15-inch black drum, five keeper sheepshead ranging 13-to-15 inches, two keeper mangrove snapper at 12 inches and 13 1/2 inches, and a sand bream. They released about twenty smaller sheepshead.
Thursday morning, I headed out with brothers, Terry and Mike Mooney, and friend, Paul Dalton, to fish 19 miles west of New Pass. The guys caught a keeper red grouper at 20 ˝ inches, a 15-inch triggerfish, two 12-inch lane snapper, and fifteen whitebone porgies to 16 inches, of which they chose to keep five. They also released two out-of-season gag grouper to 22 inches, smaller lane and mangrove snapper, along with a 4-foot bull shark. Having seen a big king mackerel jump out of the water, I rigged up a pole with a blue runner to try to catch him, but ended up with the bull shark on the line. The guys took turns fighting him for a while, then released him boat-side.
Friday morning, I fished in Estero Bay on a catch-and-release trip with Mike Lischer and Jeff Heimlich, who had fished offshore with me on Tuesday. This time, Jeff brought his wife, Beth, and young daughter, Maddie. The group had fun catching and releasing twenty sheepshead to 13 ˝ inches and four mangrove snapper, all on live shrimp.
Saturday was windy, and seas were not the one-to-three feet that were predicted. So I stayed near-shore at the reefs off Bonita Beach, where I fished with Tom Zensen, John Hamilton, and Greg Bauer. It was kind of a slow bite, but the guys caught a couple of keeper sheepshead and a few grunts, on live shrimp. They released shorter sheepies and small mangrove snapper.
The photo shown is of angler, Holly Lischer, with a 17-inch hogfish, one of two keeper hogs caught on shrimp, on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link: