SW FL-Bonita Beach: Nice Grouper & Snapper, Hogfish & Trout
<p>Although, after a windy, rough weekend, seas were calming to two-to-four feet on Monday, my planned gulf-trip canceled, as they thought seas would still be too rough. So I missed that day on the water. But, I got back offshore on Tuesday, 2/28, with Kari Vilamaa, George Dyer, Paul Kikendall, and Don Holsinger. We headed out of New Pass to fish in 45 feet, using live shrimp. Another one of the big sandbar sharks that have been abundant lately provided us with a fun battle; this one was about 175 pounds. The group also caught three keeper mangrove snapper to 15 inches, a brace of 23-inch Spanish mackerel, some large blue-striped grunts, and a couple of 14-inch whitebone porgies. They released one hogfish-short, a 17-inch red grouper, and two gag grouper that would have been keepers, if not for closed season, at 23 inches and 24 inches.
Frequent customers Jim McGrath and Bill Conklin fished offshore with me on Wednesday morning, in 33 feet, fourteen miles west of New Pass. The guys fought and released a 75-pound goliath grouper, then set about catching some food-fish, using live shrimp. They caught five nice sheepshead to 17 inches,four whitebone porgy keepers, and a mess of grunts. They released lots of smaller sheepshead, blue runners, lizard-fish and puffer-fish.
Thursday, Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonse, John Ebbrecht, Hank Sherkowski and Larry Mottice fished with me, 36 miles west of New Pass. The group caught twenty nice whitebone porgies to 17 inches, two keeper triggerfish and a brace of 16-inch mangrove snapper. They released a 19-inch red grouper. A battle with a seven-foot sandbar shark got everyone excited, and left a couple of anglers with sore arms!
Friday morning, Chuck Nebes and son, Steve, fished Estero bay with me, using live shrimp. We did well with redfish, and caught six of those, four of which were keepers at about 20 inches each. We released two snook, a couple of crevalle jacks, and five stingrays that were all about 5 pounds.
Saturday morning, the Dargis family took a chance on beating the time-line for a predicted weather-front approaching our area. We knew the winds and seas would be picking up during the course of the day, though we weren't sure just when. We decided to head to the near-shore reefs and see how conditions were there. We had 4-5 foot seas by 11AM, even just 6 miles off the beach, so we headed back to shore about then. But, by that time, Leon and his four adult sons, Brett, Kurt, Andrew and Bob, had caught six nice sheepshead to 19 inches, a 17-inch hogfish, and a 16-inch sea-trout. The guys released two gag grouper, a lot of smaller shepshead, and a few small mangrove snapper. Everything was caught on live shrimp.
Winds howled and seas built throughout the weekend, leaving Monday, 3/5, with dead-low tides in the bay and seas of five-to-seven feet offshore--no good options for fishing anywhere, so I canceled my trip for that day. Rough seas persisted into Tuesday, forcing me to cancel my offshore trip that day also.
Wednesday, I fished a catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay with Jalissa Reever and Alyce Mehring. The ladies caught and released five trout, two black drum, a whiting, two sheepshead, ladyfish and two stingrays, all on shrimp.
Jim McGrath and Bill Crockett usually fish offshore with me but, with seas still sloppy and rough on Thursday, we decided to fish inshore in Estero Bay. The water was muddy and he tide wasn't ideal, but the guys managed to catch a 17-inch keeper sheepshead, and released smaller sheepshead and stingrays. We lost a decent-sized redfish about five feet from the boat, when the hook pulled out.
Friday, 3/9, was the first day this week that I was able to get offshore, with seas calmed to two-to-three feet. I fished about 19 miles west of New Pass in 43 feet with Ernie Troisi, Ed Hoffman, Chris Dougherty, Steve Rahaim, Bill Hessler and Bart DetliObizzi. We caught and released nine gag grouper, the biggest of those measuring 30 inches and weighing twelve pounds, along with four red grouper. The guys also caught porkfish, grunts, and nine whitebone porgies. They released a few odd catches, including puffer-fish, a ramora and lizard-fish. We used live shrimp for all.
I was off the water all weekend for a family reunion, and got back to fishing on Monday, 3/12.
The photo shown is of angler, Bill Hassler, with a 30-inch, 12-lb. gag grouper, caught on live shrimp and released, on an offshore trip 3/9/12.
To view our action videos with goliath grouper and shark, check out the following link:
30-inch, 12-pound gag grouper, released
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.