SW FL-Bonita Beach: Reds, Snook, Cobia, Shark, Grouper & Snapper
Thursday morning, 9/24/15, I fished Estero Bay’s backwaters, around the Horseshoe Keys, with Tennessee bass fisherman, Rick Dann. It took rick a little while (and one lost redfish) for Rick to quit fishing like a bass angler, and to use less aggressive tactics (I do have his permission to say that!) But, once he got the hang of it, he reeled in a 22-inch keeper redfish, which he caught on shrimp. We got cut off by good sized reds a couple more times, and also released a 20-inch crevalle jack. Added to the box were three 11-inch mangrove snapper.
We had a lot of rain for a few days, which got in the way of a few fishing trips. The next time I fished was on Thursday morning, 10/1/15, with Scott and Karen Green and Mark and Linn Daberkow. We used live shrimp in lower Hickory Bay’s backwaters, and the group caught and released a 40-inch bonnethead shark, a 25-inch snook, and a brace of 3-pound stingray. They also caught a couple of keeper mangrove snapper to take home for a meal.
I had an offshore trip planned for Monday, 10/5, but the rains, 25 knot winds and five-foot seas put an end to that.
On Wednesday, 10/7, I had an offshore trip planned with Alan and Donna Clothier, but seas were still a bit on the rough side, and scattered rain hung over the gulf. So, the Clothiers deferred their trip to Friday, 10/9, when we had much better conditions with light winds and calm seas. The couple fished 19 miles west of New Pass, using live shrimp, and caught a variety of fish, including four 14-inch whitebone porgies, a half dozen large grunts, and five keeper lane snapper. They released lots of red grouper shorts, along with one red grouper that was 21 inches but had to be released, due to closed season for red grouper having taken effect a few days prior.
Steve and Annie Tobin fished a near-shore, catch-and-release trip with me on Monday, 10/12/15. They used live shrimp twelve to fourteen miles west of New Pass, and released a 27-inch cobia, five would-be–keeper lane snapper to 15 inches, and six red grouper to 18 inches.
Tuesday, 10/13, I headed offshore only about 12 miles west of New Pass with the Strube family--Don and Ellie and their two daughters, Emily and Katie. Especially for being so close to shore, the fishing was outstanding, and the Strubes used pinfish to catch and release ten red grouper to 22 ½ inches, including five would-be keepers, had red grouper not just gone out of season a few days prior. But, they were still fun to catch and release. The Strubes still ended up with plenty of eating-fish, with fifteen keeper lane snapper to 17 inches and a few grunts.
Long-time customer, Craig Royal and his family were anxiously watching the weather leading up to their planned offshore trip on Saturday, 10/17. Winds and seas had begun to pick up late Thursday, resulting in predictions for seas of two to four feet, even within 20 miles of shore. Saturday morning, with a 15 knot wind blowing, and a small craft advisory in effect for beyond 20 miles, I left the decision up to the Royal family. They decided to tough it out, so we headed offshore about ten miles, where we experienced steady three-to-four foot seas, so we ventured no further than that. The group, consisting of Craig, his parents, Ron and Janet Royal, his sons, Eric and Dan, and Dan’s fiancé, Michael Barkley, used live shrimp to box twenty keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, along with a keeper mangrove snapper at 13 inches. They released a dozen red grouper to 19 ½ inches and some grunts.
The photo shown is of angler, Steve Tobin, with a 27-inch cobia, caught on shrimp and released fourteen miles west of New Pass on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link: