SW FL-Bonita Beach: battling winds and tides, but catches good!

After a few days of cold temperatures, high winds, and rough seas, causing me to cancel a couple of trips, Saturday, 1/20/18, was finally calm enough to get offshore. I fished in spots from 18 to 28 miles west of New Pass with Joe Hahn and his friends, Bob, Mike, David, and George. The guys used cut-bait and squid to catch and release a bluefish, twenty-some red grouper shorts to 18 inches, as well as five sharks, consisting of four blacktips and one sharpnose, all of which were around the 40-inch mark. We also had a huge shark (variety unknown) grab a piece of cut-bait, run, and break off, exploding the water around us. As for dinner, the guys boxed eighteen keeper lane snapper.

Monday morning, 1/22, I fished 22 miles west of New Pass with Frank Dwyer and his son-in-law, Ryan. The guys used cut-bait and squid to catch and release twenty-six red grouper shorts, and to cull ten keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, along with a half-dozen 13 to 14-inch grunts.

Tuesday morning, 1/23, I headed out in a light drizzle with Drew VanWerden and his two young sons. Seas were calm, and we headed out 22 miles, but the rain persisted, at one point turning into a heavy shower. We had enough wet-weather gear to keep us dry, and the boys didn’t mind fishing in the rain and in the fog that followed. They used squid and cut-bait to catch and release a 17-inch cobia, twenty-one red grouper shorts to 18 inches, and lots of grunts to 12 inches. The lane snapper were biting well, and the guys caught twenty-seven keeper lanes to 13-inches.

Winds picked up ahead of another cool front moving into the area, and that produced some choppy sea conditions on Wednesday, 1/24. But, long-time customers and hardy father-son anglers Larry and Chris Baumgartner weren’t intimidated! They fished 22 miles west of New Pass with me in a stiff 20-to-25 knot wind most of the morning, and used squid and cut-bait to catch a variety of fish. They lost one big grouper that swam to the bottom and cut the line, and they released red grouper shorts, an 18-inch gag grouper, and a 14-inch scamp grouper. They also caught five mangrove snapper, three of which were keepers ranging 13 inches to 15 inches. They caught over twenty grunts, and boxed a few of the largest of those, along with four porgies in the 13-to-14-inch range.

Frequent customer Mike Connealy and his son, Clint, had to trade their offshore plans for some inshore, catch-and-release fishing on a very windy Friday morning, 1/26. There were small craft advisories offshore, and even the bay presented some challenges in a relentless wind of about 25 knots. The guys used live shrimp to catch and release thirteen sheepshead to 13 inches, two crevalle jacks that were each about 12 inches, and a 15-inch black drum.

Winds persisted through the weekend. I fished inshore in southern Estero Bay on Sunday, 1/28, with Stan and Jean Dzedzy and their son and daughter-in-law, Dave and Debbie. The family used live shrimp to catch three keeper sand bream, a 15-inch drum, a 17-inch drum, and a 17-inch pompano. They released fifteen sheepshead shorts and two mangrove snapper shorts. The photo shown is of Dave Dzedzy with a 17-inch pompano, caught on shrimp on his inshore trip 1/28/18.

Monday, 1/29, I awoke to light rain and fog, with another cold front expected to arrive over-night and into Tuesday. Seas were choppy first thing in the morning, and it remained misty after the fog lifted, but seas calmed a little by mid-morning. I began fishing at the near-shore reefs with Lee Larsens and his friends, Carey, Jerry, and Rick, but there was very little action there. So, as seas calmed down a bit, we ventured out further to about fifteen miles offshore. Fishing was tough everywhere, and I can’t recall the last time I saw such slow action at several of my typically productive spots. The guys used squid and cut-bait to catch and release two whitings, a few blue runners, one red grouper short, and a few grunts.

With small craft advisories issued for Tuesday, 1/30, and predictions for seas of four-to-six feet, I canceled my planned offshore trip, which had already been rescheduled from the previous week’s rough weather!

By Thursday, 2/1, seas were finally calm enough to get out about 23 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with frequent customers, Ron Musick, Richard Arnett, and Eddie Alfonso. There were tons of little bait fish everywhere, and lots of undersized fish biting, but the guys were able to box some food-fish, consisting of three keeper lane snapper, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, two porgies, and a few nice-sized grunts. They released twenty-plus red grouper shorts and four mangrove snapper shorts. Everything bit on squid and cut-bait.

Friday morning, 2/2, seas were calm when I fished a catch-and-release trip 19 miles west of New Pass with William Connors, Mike Connors, and friends Dan, Mark, and Pat. The guys used squid and cut bait to catch and release twenty-four red grouper shorts, a mess of grunts, and mangrove snapper to 16 inches. The photo shown is of Mike Connors with a 16-inch mangrove snapper, caught on squid on his offshore trip 2/2/18.

Winds picked up on Saturday, 2/3, and we were back to choppy seas offshore, with a small craft advisory issued. So, Roman Jahnke and his dad, Tom, who were treating Roman’s son, Roarke, to a fishing trip for his tenth birthday, traded offshore plans for some inshore fishing on the flats of southern Estero Bay. The family used live shrimp to catch five keeper black drum to 16 inches, and they released ten sheepshead shorts, a crevalle jack, and two stingray that were each about three pounds.

You can view our fishing action videos at fishbustercharters.com/fishingvideos.html

Replies

  • stc1993stc1993 Albany, GA Carrabelle, FLPosts: 4,495 Captain

    Those 14-16" drum are good to eat. Fun to catch too.

  • SerotoninSerotonin Cape CoralPosts: 142 Deckhand

    Yesterday i saw a video of a large mako off Bonita Beach, your unknown shark could've been a mako, they like to break the surface

  • Fishbuster DaveFishbuster Dave Posts: 180 Deckhand

    Monday, 2/5/18, I fished with frequent customer, Ron Musick, joined by friends who are visiting for a few days. We used cut-bait and squid to fish spots out to 28 miles from New Pass. The spots that have consistently yielded lots of lane snapper have not been doing so recently, and this day was no exception. But, the group did catch over twenty nice-sized porgies, along with some grunts. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts, along with a 15-inch mutton snapper.

     

    On Wednesday, 2/7, Craig Royal and family fished 24 miles west of New Pass with me, where there continued to be lots of small bait fish around, and keeper fish seemed scarce, despite steady action. The group released a couple dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches, along with two big lizard fish about 19 inches each. They did box three keeper lane snapper and a dozen grunts, all of which bit on squid and cut-bait.

     

    Roy Mittman fished in various spots out to 25 miles west of New Pass with me on Monday morning, 2/12. Once again, the red grouper bite was active, but yielded no keepers, and we released over twenty shorts. Keepers included lane snapper and grunts, which bit on squid.

     

    Tuesday, 2/13, I spent the morning fishing the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with John Pompeo and his son, John, Jr. The guys used live shrimp to catch ten sheepshead to 15 inches and a 16-inch black drum.

     

    Bob Ellis and his friend, Tim, fished about 15 miles west of New Pass with me on Wednesday 2/14, where they used cut-bait and squid to release four red grouper shorts and two gag grouper out-of-season shorts to 21 inches. They boxed a 15-inch sheepshead, a keeper porkfish, and three grunts.

     

    Eddie Alfonso, Kay Daugherty, and Liz Condos fished 17 miles west of New Pass with me on Thursday, 2/15, using cut-bait and squid. The group released red grouper shorts to 18 inches, along with a would-be-legal (if in season) gag grouper, and a 16-inch triggerfish. They caught a mess of grunts, so fish tacos were still on the menu, even with having to release the other catches.

     

     

    The photo shown is of Liz Condos with a 24-inch, out-of-season gag grouper, caught on cut-bait and released.

     

    After a couple of days off the water, due to a family event, Mike Bochman and his friend, Kevin joined me to fish 20 miles offshore on Monday, 2/19. Seas got progressively choppier throughout the morning. The guys used squid and cut-bait to release fifteen red grouper shorts to 19 inches, along with a 15-inch scamp grouper. They loaded up on grunts for fish tacos.

     

    Mike McCarthy and friends, Ken, Tim and Eddie, fished in various spots out to 35 miles west of New Pass with me on Tuesday, 2/20. We had steady action at the 35 mile spot, where the guys released over thirty red grouper shorts to just short of 20 inches, inches, five gag grouper to 22 inches, several yellowtail snapper shorts, and a few banded rudder fish, all around 18 inches. They loaded up their cooler with lots of 15-inch porgies and 15-inch grunts. Everything bit on squid and cut-bait.

     

    Seas were choppier than predicted, with some rain off Naples, on Wednesday morning, 2/21, when I fished 18 miles offshore with Mark Dutkewych and his young son, Nick. The guys caught and released a dozen red grouper shorts and a dozen or so grunts before calling it a morning.

     

    Wayne Geall and friends, Tucker Seabrook, Carm, and Clay, fished the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with me on a windy Thursday morning, 2/22. Using live shrimp, the group caught sixteen sheepshead, including one nice keeper at 19 inches. They also released two mangrove snapper shorts, a spadefish, three black drum, and a brace of two-pound stingrays.

     

     

    The photo shown is of Tucker Seabrook with a 19-inch sheepshead, caught on shrimp in Estero Bay.

     

    It was another windy morning in southern Estero Bay on Friday, 2/23, when I fished a catch-and-release trip with Bob and Mary-Lou Schwartz and their grandchildren, Hannah and Tyler. The family used live shrimp to release a 17-inch black drum, two would-be-keeper mangrove snapper at 11 inches each, a lady fish, nine sheepshead shorts, and a 22-inch sailcat.

     

    You can view our fishing action videos at http://fishbustercharters.com/fishing videos.html


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