SW FL-Bonita Beach: Nice catches offshore and inshore
Sunday morning, 2/25, I headed out to 19 miles west of New Pass to fish with Charles Bisgaier and his friend, Andy. The red grouper bite was active, and the guys released twenty red grouper shorts to18 inches, along with two mangrove snapper shorts. They loaded the cooler with twenty-one grunts, all around 14-to 15 inches, along with one 14-inch porgy.
Todd Plastaid, his three sons, Alec, Brennen and Dave, their friend, Cam Field, and the boys’ grandfather, John Plastaid, fished 24 miles west of New Pass with me in calm seas on Monday, 2/26. The family used squid and cut-bait to catch twenty-one keeper lane snapper to 16 inches, a dozen grunts 12-14 inches, and three keeper porgies. They released twenty-six red grouper shorts to 18 inches, along with a 14-inch triggerfish.
Mike and Kristen McCarthy and their five-year-old twin sons, Danny and Jonathan, fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Tuesday, 2/27. Kristen landed a nice, 17-inch trout, and the boys had fun catching and releasing ten sheepshead to 12 inches and two mangrove snapper to 10 inches. Everything bit on shrimp. The boys enjoyed fishing, but had even more fun watching a dolphin or two chase the boat for a good while, and also siting a manatee.
Mike Conneally, his brother-in-law, Rodney Bromm, and friend, Jim Schaber, fished 24 miles west of New Pass with me on Wednesday morning, 2/28, where they used cut-bait and squid to box seventeen lane snapper keepers, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and a few grunts. They released twenty-one red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Frequent fishers, Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonso, and Richard Arnett fished 24 miles offshore with me on Thursday, 3/1, and used squid and cut-bait to box twenty-one lane snappers to 14 inches and two keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, along with a few grunts. They released twenty-two red grouper shorts to 17 inches.
Friday morning, 3/2, Kathy Kunscher and the McNally family—Seth and Val and their young children, Liam and Alta—fished southern Estero Bay with me, using live shrimp. The group caught a 17-inch permit and two sand bream, and released a half dozen sheepshead shorts and a dozen mangrove snapper shorts, along with four big sailcats that were all about five pounds. Red tide was obvious, but it wasn’t impairing our catching!
Bob Eckle and friend, Ken, had to nix their plans to fish in the gulf on Saturday, 3/3, with strong winds and surf causing a small craft advisory to be issued for offshore. We fished in southern Estero Bay, using live shrimp, and the guys caught and released a drum and two sheepshead, while boxing two keeper mangrove snapper.
Frequent customer, Mike Connealy, wanted to treat his brother-in-law, Rodney Bromm, to some sport fishing for big fish on Monday, 3/5, so we headed out about fifteen miles to one of my goliath grouper spots. The guys caught a bunch of blue runners for bait, and then caught and released four goliath grouper, one estimated at 40 pounds, two estimated at 60 pounds, and one estimated at 90 pounds. They figured the fun was worth the sore arms that would no doubt result!
Bart Arrigo, joined by friends, Steve, Doug, and another Steve, fished 35 miles offshore with me on Tuesday, March 6th. The guys were busy catching all day, using squid and cut-bait to box sixteen vermillion snapper, nineteen nice-sized porgies, three 15-inch grunts, two 13-inch mangrove snapper, and two 14-inch yellowtail snapper. They released three dozen red grouper shorts and a few gag grouper shorts.
Weather canceled out four consecutive trips, with various combinations of high winds and seas, rain, and low tides. I finally got out fishing again on Tuesday, 3/13, when I fished the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with Tom Schilli, his wife, and their two grandsons Steven and Sonny Barclay. The family used live shrimp to catch and release a dozen sheepshead to 12 inches, four black drum to 14 inches, six mangrove snapper shorts, and a 14-inch sand bream.
Mike Jansen, his son-in-law, Matt Menting, and Matt’s seven-year-old daughter, Lily, fished in Estero Bay with me on Wednesday morning, 3/14, using live shrimp. We had a great morning o sheepshead catching, boxing thirteen keeper sheepshead to 19 inches and releasing a dozen more consisting of shorts and some keepers that weren’t needed. The family also boxed a 17-inch trout, and they released a 17-inch snook, along with a dozen short mangrove snapper.The photo shown below is of Matt Menting with a 17-inch trout.
Mike Jenson and Matt Menting fished with me again on Thursday, 3/15, this time joined by Mike’s son, Chris Jenson, to fish offshore. Seas were choppy early on, but we all knew they would be and we were prepared for the three-to-four foot seas we encountered heading out to 19 miles west of New Pass. Seas calmed down later in the morning, as predicted. The guys used squid and cut-bait to loan up on lane snapper, boxing twenty keepers to 14 inches. They added to the box a 14-inch mangrove snapper, a nice 17-inch mutton snapper, a 14-inch porgy, and a 13-inch grunt. We had to be quick to boat the mutton snapper, since an 8-foot hammerhead shark was in pursuit of it, but we got the mutton safely into the boat. The guys also released five yellowtail shorts, along with a 9-foot sandbar shark. The photo shown below is of Chris Jansen with a 17-inch mutton snapper.
Ian McKinnon, his son-in-law, Remi Nickel, and Remi’s three young sons, Mark, Luke and Jack fished 19 miles west of New Pass with me on Friday, 3/16. The kids had fun catching a mess of grunts to 12 inches, and releasing blue runners and short red grouper. But the highlight of the trip was when we caught the hammerhead that I had seen lurking in the area the previous day—he bit on a blue runner on a heavy rig, and we were able to get some good video before releasing him.
St. Patrick’s Day Saturday, I fished from 19 to 23 miles offshore with Darren and Linda Rachman and their friends, Craig and Heather Laudenslager. The group used cut-bait and squid to box twenty grunts to 14 inches, a half-dozen lane snapper to 14 inches, a 15-inch porkfish, and a 13-inch porgy. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts.
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