SW FL-Bonita beach: Red tide hasn't stopped offshore fishing
Scott Shinke, friends, and family fished with me on Friday morning, 7/6/18, 22 miles west of New Pass, using cut-bait and squid. They boxed fifteen lane snapper to 13 inches, along with two Spanish mackerel 22 inches and 23 inches. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts, and also battled and released a nine-foot nurse-shark. They cited a good-sized sandbar shark also, but that one did not take the bait.
Greg Carlson and Brent Bixby fished with me on Monday, 7/9, in 70 feet, 36 miles west of New Pass. There were plenty of red grouper to catch, but no keepers--keepers have been very scarce lately and, even in 70 feet, that did not change. We also caught and released an 18-inch gag grouper. The guys battled a shark that was either a blacktip or a spinner, most likely a spinner--it finally wrapped the line and got off, after four runs and five jumps. Greg also caught and released a 35-inch blacknose shark. Another release was a six-pound crevalle jack. As for food -fish, the guys boxed a dozen keeper lane snapper, two yellowtail snapper at 14 inches and 15 inches, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and a porgy.
Monday morning, 7/16, I fished a near-shore catch-and-release trip with Daniel Blaiser, Karin Junc, and Sven Junc. The group just wanted to catch and release any kind of fish, so we used squid and cut-bait to fish for whatever was biting about twelve miles west of New Pass. We released twenty-three red grouper shorts to 18 inches, a dozen lane snapper to 11 inches, and two dozen grunts. Sven hooked a large Mantis shrimp, which was an interesting catch! Those are dangerous to handle, and are commonly called “thumb splitters.”
Wednesday morning, 7/18/18, I fished 22 miles west of New Pass on a catch-and-release trip with Christopher Worley, his teenage son, Sam, and his teenage daughter, Izzy. The family used squid and cut-bait to catch and release twenty keeper-sized lane snapper to 14 inches and two dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Matthew and Julie Stanford, along with their son, Luke, and Luke’s grandparents, Cornelia and Dan Vellenga, fished 25 miles offshore with me on Friday morning, 7/27, using cut-bait and squid. The family boxed twenty keeper lane snapper to 14 inches, and released twenty-five red grouper shorts, one of which was just an eighth of an inch short of keeper size.
Nate Binder and his friend, Mr. Mernacki, fished offshore with me Monday morning, 7/30. There was a light drizzle when we headed out, and weather predictions were for that light rain to be mostly along the coast, and to move through the area quickly—wrong! We had rain most of the morning, and had to delay heading out to our farthest spot for a bit, since we encountered a few storms that contained lightening. We eventually got out to 25 miles, though the ride wasn’t smooth, in sometimes four-foot seas. But the guys had a good time using squid and cut-bait to box fifteen keeper lane snappers and a Spanish mackerel. They released two yellowtail shorts, six mangrove shorts, and thirty red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Seas were far rougher than predicted on Thursday morning, 8/2, when I headed offshore with Chris Heil and his son, Mike. NOAA’s prediction was for two foot seas, but we had steady four-footers, with a few waves even topping that. It was tough fishing 18 miles west of New Pass, but the guys caught and released red grouper shorts and grunts, which bit on squid and cut-bait.
Chris Heil fished with me again on Saturday morning, 8/4. Seas were a little calmer than Thursday’s were, but far from smooth. We used cut-bait and squid to box six grunts to 14 inches, five keeper porgies, and a half dozen keeper lane snapper. We released ten red grouper shorts to 17 inches, 19 miles west of New Pass.
Monday morning, 8/6, I fished 19 miles west of New Pass with John King, his son, Chris, and several other family members. Seas were a little choppy heading out, but calmed down and were the calmest they have been over the past several days. John and family used squid to box six keeper lane snapper to 14 inches, a 13-inch yellowtail snapper, and a dozen grunts in the 13-to14-inch range. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts.
Wednesday morning, John King fished with me again, this time with a couple of other family members, Jack Coffman and Kelley. Using squid and cut-bait 22 miles west of New Pass, the group boxed fifteen nice sized grunts all between 12 and 14 inches, along with a keeper lane snapper. They released at least fifty red grouper shorts to19 ½ inches, along with a half dozen mangrove snapper shorts and a half dozen yellowtail shorts.
Friday morning, 8/10, I headed offshore to fish with Scott Fata, Daniel Austin, and their friend, Tom. The wind had changed direction and was blowing some of the red tide and dead fish our way, from Sanibel, so we headed out a few miles further to get out of that. Fishing 22 to 24 miles from New Pass, the guys used squid and cut-bait to box six nice lane snapper keepers to 15 inches, along with a few grunts and an 18-inch Spanish mackerel. But the exciting catch of the day was a 50-inch barracuda, which Daniel reeled in on one of his first casts. It was too dangerous to handle the big ‘cuda for a photo in hand, so we photographed him on a gaffe, and immediately released him.
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