SW FL-Bonita Beach: Mixed Bag Offshore
Our Beaches are Clean—Our Waters Pristine"
After a rainy cold-front pushed through the area on Wednesday, 12/1, seas were rough through Thursday. Predictions were for 15 knot winds and 2-4 foot seas on Friday but, when I headed offshore with Greg Bauer and friend, Jim, we hit three-to-four-footers a mere six miles off the beach. Greg and Jim are pretty hardy anglers so we continued out to about 17 miles, where we fished in steady four-foot seas, with a few fives mixed in, as the wind howled 20-27 knots. But the grouper bite was on, and Greg caught a nice 28-inch gag on a grunt. We lost two or other nice ones that cut our lines, and we released lots of red grouper shorts. We also caught four keeper mangrove snapper and a mess of large grunts.
Saturday morning, seas were calmer, when I headed out to 19 miles west of New Pass with Bob Rose and Stephanie Oberlie. We had a lot of grouper bites, but no keepers. We released small snapper as well as a bunch of grouper shorts. We also lost a couple of bigger ones that broke off in the rocks. We caught a dozen keeper whitebone porgies, all 13-14 inches, a 14-inch keeper mangrove snapper, and a mess of grunts—plenty for the fish-fry the two had planned for evening.
Monday morning, 12/6, brought temps in the forties, strong winds, and small craft advisories offshore, with seas of 4-6 feet. Long-time customers Erwin and Millie Matusiak traded offshore plans for a morning of flats fishing in Estero Bay, after which we were all ready for some shelter from the wind and a cup of cocoa! The Matusiaks kept a couple of 14-inch sheepshead for dinner, and released a 20-inch bluefish, an 18-inch trout, as well as lots of smaller sheepshead and ladyfish. All were caught on live shrimp.
No one braved the conditions to fish on Tuesday and Wednesday, with near-freezing temps and brisk winds. Thursday, we added rain to the mix. But by Friday, 12/10, it was looking like SW FL once again. Despite a chilly start, we warmed up to the low 70's by afternoon, and our winds calmed somewhat, with 2-3 foot seas making it possible to venture offshore about 15 miles. I fished in 43 feet with Chris Ernberger and his twelve-year old son, Carter, along with Carter's grandfather, Jerry. We caught a mess of nice-sized grunts, keeper mangrove snapper and keeper porkfish, all on shrimp. We released smaller porkfish, triggerfish shorts and grouper shorts.
By Sunday, 12/12, another cold-front was pushing through, bringing wind-gusts to 40 knots by late Sunday into Monday, seas of 12-18 feet offshore, and cold temperatures. With a little luck, conditions might improve by the end of the week, when I hope to get back out on the water.
The photo shown is of angler, John Hornell, with a 16-inch hogfish, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip.
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.