SW FL-Bonita Beach: Nice Gag Grouper, Goliaths, Shark, Snapper
<p>Monday, 8/20, I fished with Steve Spitzer and Jalissa Reever again. They had fished with me the previous Wednesday and caught a couple of keeper gag grouper. But, Monday, conditions were different. Despite forecasts for one-to-two foot seas and 5-10 knot winds, we encountered steady 15-18 knot winds and two-to-three foot seas. We fished the near-shore reefs with live shrimp, and the couple caught six mangrove snapper, three of which were keepers, one 14 1/2-inch flounder, and a half-dozen Atlantic croakers, all 13 to 14 inches. They also released a small silver trout, a small whiting, and ladyfish.
Tuesday, we awoke to rain along the coast, coming in from the gulf, with clearing later in the day. On Wednesday morning, 8/22, I headed to the near-shore reefs with cousins Michael and Doug Cook. Seas were pretty sloppy early on, calming slightly by late morning. The guys used live shrimp to catch nine croakers, an 11-inch keeper lane snapper, and a few keeper mangrove snapper to 13 inches. They released about twenty mangrove shorts, along with pinfish, small sheepshead, ladyfish and crevalle jacks.
Thursday, 8/23, was the last day to fish offshore for a while, as soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac makes it's way toward Florida, kicking up winds and seas. I fished with Greg Bauer and Ryan Link, about twelve miles west of New Pass. We used pinfish for the big guys and live shrimp for the table-fare, and we did well on both counts: The guys caught a 29-inch, 13-pound gag grouper, and they released a 100-pound goliath grouper and a four-foot nurse-shark. They also caught a few keeper lane snapper, and released twenty-five mangrove snapper shorts, a red grouper short, some blue runners, twenty ladyfish and some crevalle jacks.
So, we' battened down the hatches and hoped for the best. We were fortunate that Isaac took a westerly turn, and produced only some rain and gusty winds...it definitely made it too rough to fish for a few days but that is minimal compared with what might have happened, so we are thankful.
I had planned to fish inshore, in Estero Bay on Thursday, 8/30, but, as happens only a couple times per year (fortunately) I was stood up by the party who had booked the trip just a couple days before. Most customers understand that a captain arises early in the morning to ready his boat, and is likely to purchase near $50.00 worth of live bait for a scheduled fishing trip, so a no-show can cause a guide to be near $100.00 in the hole, not to mention losing the day's income and denying another customer the chance to fish that day.
Saturday, the first day of September, I fished with Dustin Duba, brothers Stuart and Kyle Wiseley, Justin Rupert and Nate May. We fished at a few different spots between 18 and 28 miles west of New Pass, and the guys did well with a nice smorgasboard of catches. The catch-of-the-day was a 29-inch gag grouper that Stuart reeled in on a pinfish. A pinfish was also the bait of choice for a 5-foot nurse-shark that Kyle caught and released. The group also caught fifteen yellowtail snapper, but only two of those were keepers at 13 inches. They also caught fifteen keeper lane snapper and six nice mangrove snapper to 15 inches. At one point, we had a 19-inch mangrove snapper on the line, but a 5-foot long barracuda decided to grab that one before we could get it reeled in. The guys also caught a half-dozen keeper whitebone porgies to 15 inches. They released lots of gag grouper to 21 1/2 inches and red grouper shorts to 18 1/2 inches.
The photo shown is of angler, Greg Bauer with a 29-inch, 13-pound 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:
29-inch, 13-pound 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.