SW FL-Bonita Beach: Shark, Grouper, Snapper, Drum
Mark and Monica Kusterer and their two young daughters, Jillian and Amanda, fished 15 miles offshore with me on Tuesday morning, 4/11, using squid for bait. They released fifteen red grouper shorts to 18 inches, and boxed ten keeper lane snapper and a dozen grunts. It was the girls’ first fishing experience, and I think they are sold on the sport!
Seas were easily three-to-four foot Wednesday morning, 4/12, though they calmed down toward the noon hour. Roy Mittman and his son, Zach, have braved choppy waters with me before, and they don’t mind a bit of chop in order to get to the fish. So we headed out 22 miles from New Pass to fish with squid and cut bait. The guys caught a brace of 21-inch, keeper red grouper, and added twenty-five keeper lane snapper and a half-dozen 12-13-inch grunts to the box too. They released lots of red grouper shorts. A huge shark—either a tiger or a hammerhead would be my guess—grabbed a fish on the line, spun the drag, and ran 300 yards of 100 lb. Power-Pro line off the pole before finally cutting the line on a crab trap. The best view we got of the monster was way below the surface, and it was tough to discern what type of shark it was.
Thursday morning, 4/13, I fished a catch-and-release trip in southern Estero Bay with Robert and Diane Murphey, and their two young grandchildren, Elena and Colin. The kids had a good time catching and releasing sheepshead, crevalle jack, and mangrove snapper.
Friday, 4/14, I spent the morning fishing 22 miles offshore with the Bockhorst family: Bob, his son, Don, and Don’s adult children, David, Kevin, and Kristen. The family used squid and cut-bait, and managed to get some big game excitement, as well as plenty of food-fish. A fifty-inch blacknose shark provided a fun battle and, shortly after we released that beast, a big sandbar shark grabbed one line and tangled it with all the others, eventually cutting all the lines and escaping. Calmer catches included two dozen keeper lane snapper and a dozen grunts. The family released thirty red grouper shorts to 19 inches.
Winds and seas increased Saturday, 4/15, but my young, hardy anglers toughed it out to fish 22 miles west of New Pass with squid and cut-bait. They caught a 21-inch, keeper red grouper, and released at least forty red grouper shorts to 19 inches. A couple of bigger ones were hooked and lost. The guys added thirty keeper lane snapper to the fish box, and released one undersized triggerfish.
Monday morning, 4/17, I headed offshore 22 miles with Sean & Jennifer Ball and family/friends Jared, Jack, Kevin, and another Jack. The group used squid and cut-bait to box thirty keeper lane snapper and to release a dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches. The dolphins seemed to be everywhere that morning, so we had to pull anchor and change spots several times.
Seas were predicted to be calm on Tuesday morning, 4/18, when I headed offshore with Jack Miller, Leo Walsh, and their friends, Tim and Alan. Though winds were stronger than predicted and seas a little choppy, the guys managed okay, fishing in spots 17 miles and 20 miles from New Pass. They used squid to box a dozen grunts and eleven keeper lane snapper. They released fifteen red grouper shorts.
Bill Bredbenner and his fiancé, Teresa, fished Estero Bay’s backwaters with me on Wednesday morning, 4/19. Conditions were not optimal, with hefty winds, low tides and some muddy waters, but the couple used live shrimp to catch and release mangrove snapper and a crevalle jack.
Seas were choppy again on my offshore trip Thursday morning, 4/20, when I fished 20 miles west of New Pass with Terry O’Neil, his son, and two grandchildren. The family used squid to box fifteen keeper lane snapper and a mess of grunts. They released twenty-one red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
A catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay Friday, 4/21, with Matt Birnie and his young son, Frasier, yielded four sheepshead and a spadefish, caught on live shrimp.
The overcast conditions on Saturday morning, 4/22, seemed to give the inshore fishing a boost. I fished southern Estero Bay’s backwaters with John Abernathy and his son, Ryan, and the pair caught nineteen fish all together, which beat any previous action in the bay recently. Catches, all on live shrimp, included two black drum to 20 inches, an 18-inch whiting, four mangrove snapper shorts, and a dozen sheepshead shorts.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
The photo shown below is of Aiden Matchette, with a 24-inch red grouper, caught on a pinfish 24 miles west of New Pass on a recent offshore trip.
The photo shown is of Karen Bach, with a 24-inch black drum, caught on shrimp on a recent inshore trip.