SW FL-Bonita Beach: Goliaths, Gags & Snapper
<p>Monday, 8/6, I headed out to 35 feet to fish with Brian Woeste, Adam Bodkin and Tim Powers. The guys wanted to experience the thrill of big game, but also wanted some food fish. We started out catching blue runners and Spanish mackerel for goliath grouper bait. The guys caught and released a 70-pound goliath grouper, which bit a blue runner. They lost a bigger one that broke the line before they could reel him to the surface. Next, we set about catching dinner-fish, using live shrimp for bait. The guys caught seven keeper lane snapper to 11 inches, a half-dozen whitebone porgies to 14 inches, and a half-dozen Spanish mackerel to 24 inches. They released undersized yellowtail and mangrove snappers, blue runners, grunts, and red grouper shorts to 18 inches. Seas were predicted to be calm, at one-to two feet, but we had some sloppy conditions and two-to-three foot seas, even relatively close-in, ahead of some rain showers that followed us back to shore.
Wednesday, 8/8, I fished in 45 feet, west of New Pass, with father-and-son team, Tim Miller and Tim Miller, Jr. We caught some blue runners and Spanish mackerels to use as bait for big-game, and the guys caught and released three goliath grouper, 50 pounds, 70 pounds, and 80 pounds. After some rest and recovery (those goliaths exhaust every muscle in an angler's body ;-) we baited with shrimp to catch a few dinner-fish, which included six keeper lane snapper and a few whitebone porgies. The guys also released a 40-inch sandbar shark and a two-foot cobia. At one point, there were five cobia schooling by the boat, but we only got the one to bite.
I had planned to fish on Saturday, 8/11, but we awoke to thunderstorms, and it was still raining by 11AM, so we bagged the trip. It rained most of the day Sunday also but, by Monday morning, 8/13, we were back in a more typical afternoon rain pattern, which allowed me to fish the morning with Mike Wethington, his son, Mike Jr., and friend, Rob. We fished in 38 feet, first going after some goliath-grouper fun and, second, going after some fish for dinner. We used blue runners and crevalle jacks for goliath bait, and the guys battled a 70-pound goliath and a 90-pound goliath to the surface for pics before releasing them. They agonized over the mammoth that broke the line just five feet below the boat! They also released a 40-inch sandbar shark, caught on live shrimp, along with some undersized yellowtail snapper, a couple of gag grouper shorts, and a moonfish. They caught plenty to eat, including eight keeper mangrove snapper (out of about twenty-five caught), three Spanish mackerel (out of fifteen caught) and a half-dozen keeper lane snapper.
Tuesday, I fished a catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay with Robert & Roberta Dulberg and their children, Daniel and Rebecca. We used live shrimp to catch and release a 17 3/4-inch redfish, a 16-inch snook, two crevalle jacks, two stingray and seven mangrove snapper.
Wednesday, I fished the near-shore reefs with frequent customers Steve Spitzer and Jalissa Reever. We caught some pinfish to use for grouper bait, and the couple landed two keeper gag grouper, 22 inches and 25 1/2 inches. They also used live shrimp to catch three Spanish mackerel to 22 inches and a half-dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 13 inches. They released small kingfish to 22 inches, ladyfish, and crevalle jacks.
Kal and Rachelle Johnson fished in Estero Bay with me on Thursday, where they used live shrimp to catch an 18-inch keeper redfish and some mangrove snapper. They also released a puffer fish.
Friday morning, I fished with Calvin and Heather Horst. Calvin wanted to catch something big and, since he and his wife were returning home from their stay in Bonita the next day, they weren't interested in keeping any food-fish. So we caught some ladyfish, crevalle jacks and Spanish mackerel to use as bait for goliath grouper. Calvin battled an 85-pound goliath to the surface for a few pics, before releasing the monster. It bit a blue runner and Spanish mackerel combo-bait. The couple also released about fifteen would-be-keeper mangrove snapper, along with some Spanish mackerel to 23 inches, and a few small lane snapper.
I had planned to fish offshore on Saturday, 8/18, but it was raining by about 8AM, with lots of moisture still rolling in from the gulf, so we had to cancel that trip.
The photo shown is of angler, Jalissa Reever, with a 25½-inch gag grouper, caught on a pinfish, on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
25 1/2-inch gag grouper
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.