SW FL-Bonita Beach: Big Sheepshead are Back! Grouper, Snapper, Hogfish
The good news is that the weekend's wind direction helped push the red tide out to sea. And, the backwaters, at least the spots I fished on Monday, 12/5, held no trace of red tide, and the fishing was good. I fished with long-time customers Erwin and Mille Metusiak. Using live shrimp, we caught a total of seventeen redfish Monday morning, to 21 inches. The couple kept three of those, along with two keeper, 15-inch sheepshead. They released crevalle jacks and a 24-inch snook.
Tuesday, there was a temporary calming of the seas offshore, and Mike Connealy, along with his father-in-law, Dick Elston and Mike's newlywed daughter and son-in-law, Paige and Shaun Stevens, took advantage of conditions to head into the gulf. We fished with live shrimp in 43 feet, out of New Pass, where we noticed no significant red tide effects. We caught a smorgasbord of fish, including twenty gag grouper to 21 ½ inches, which we released, along with fifteen red grouper, all in the 16-to17-inch range. We also caught a keeper mangrove snapper, and released about twenty mang-shorts. The group caught twenty-five keeper-sized whitebone porgies to 14 inches, and released all but ten of those. They also caught a couple of sheepshead, one of which was a keeper at 15 inches, along with a keeper hogfish at 14 inches, a keeper porkfish, and several large grunts. We released a half dozen triggerfish shorts, along with yellowtail shorts and several Atlantic barbs (a croaker-type fish.) We released two scamp groupers that were just ½ inch short of legal, at 15 ½ inches.
Friday, 12/9, I fished Estero Bay with Dave Karrey, Steve Below, Desi Parent and Barry Saltzman. We used live shrimp to catch four keeper sheepshead to 17 1/2 inches, a keeper whiting, and a keeper redfish at 18 1/2 inches. The group released two shorter reds, two snook to 20 inches, crevalle jacks and a half dozen ladyfish.
Monday morning, 12/12, I fished in Estero Bay with Roy and Chris Mittman and Todd and Lynda Cohen. Fishing with live shrimp, the group caught fifteen sheepshead to 16 inches, and kept two of the four keeper-sized ones. They also caught a 17-inch pompano, and released a 15-inch black drum and an impressive, eight-pound crevalle jack.
A few days of rough seas intervened before I got out again, which was on Saturday morning, 12/17, with Bud Glanzer, son-in-law, Chris, and friends Alan Bronson and Dennis McGuire. Fishing with shrimp in 43 feet, out of New Pass, we caught a nice hogfish measuring 17 inches, a keeper triggerfish at 14 ½ inches, five keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, twenty-five whitebone porgies, and a mess of large grunts. The group released eight smaller triggerfish, five smaller mangs, fifteen of the porgies, and twenty of the grunts. They kept the rest for a family dinner. They also released lots of gag grouper to 20 inches and red grouper to 18 inches.
The photo shown is of angler, Alan Bronson, with a 17-inch hogfish, caught on shrimp in 43 feet, on an offshore trip this past weekend.
About The Author: Captain Dave Hanson
Company: Fish Buster Charters
Area Reporting: Bonita Beach
Bio: Captain Dave Hanson is a native of southwest Florida. He has been fishing local waters since childhood, and has been fishing professionally for over fifteen years. He is Coast Guard licensed, and is a member in good standing of the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce. He has been featured in several national fishing magazines, and he also appears weekly in the fishing reports sections of the Bonita, Ft. Myers, Ft. Myers Beach, and Naples, FL newspapers.