50-lb King, 8 1/2-foot Hammerhead, Grouper & More!
Capt. Dave Hanson
April 15, 2014
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Monday morning, 3/31, it was a hard call on whether to fish offshore or inshore for the Frantz family--Mike and Sue, daughter Kim, and grandson Kevin. After many days of wind and high seas, predictions were for calmer conditions, with two-to three foot seas, but winds were still blowing pretty strong. The family had already fished one trip in the backwaters with me a few weeks ago and wanted to experience some gulf fishing. Another consideration was the low tide conditions in the bay. So we decided on the near-shore reefs. Even there, at three miles and six miles off the beach, conditions were sloppy in the early hours, and fishing was tough. It was the first time I had seen so many sail-cats at the reefs, perhaps because of the influx of fresh water with all the recent rain. The group caught and released several of those, along with some grunts, mangrove snapper shorts, and sheepshead to 12 inches.
Tuesday, 4/1, seas were calmer than they had been in a good while, and I got out 28 miles that April Fools' Day with Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonso, and friend Wayne, along with Wayne's son, Ryan. We had steady action all day, and the group caught a big yellowtail snapper at 17 inches, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, three keeper lane snapper, twenty porgies to 14 inches, and a 22-inch Spanish mackerel, all on shrimp. We could have caught more yellowtails, had it not been for the greedy goliath grouper that invaded our fishing hole! We used a blue runner for bait to catch and release a six-foot sandbar shark. The group also released twenty-five red grouper shorts.
Two father-son teams fished offshore, about 18 miles west of New Pass, with me on Wednesday morning, 4/2. The foursome, Rick and Matt Kuster and Scot and Cale Barnes, had a productive morning of fishing, boxing fifteen lane snapper keepers to 12 inches, two 13 ½-inch hogfish, grunts, porgies, and a 24-inch red grouper. They released fifteen red grouper shorts. All were caught on live shrimp, except the keeper red grouper, which bit a pinfish.
Thursday morning, 4/3, I fished on an outgoing tide in Estero Bay, by Horseshoe Key, with John and Toni Heinrich. The couple used live shrimp to catch two keeper sheepshead at 14 inches and 18 inches. They released smaller sheepshead, along with a 17 ½-inch redfish.
Friday, 4/4, I fished offshore, though seas were rougher than predicted. But my three hardy anglers, Tim Peterson, his son, Michael, and friend, Scott Hayes, didn't mind the seas, and did well fishing with live shrimp 27 miles west of New Pass. The group caught a brace of keeper red grouper at 21 inches, and released numerous red grouper shorts, along with blue runners. Also added to the box were fifteen whitebone porgies to15 inches and two keeper lane snapper.
Saturday, 4/5, I headed offshore about 27 miles on a nice calm day, with Tom Anderson and his young sons, Chris and Ben. The guys used live shrimp to catch most everything, except for a 21-inch, keeper red grouper that bit a spot-tail grunt. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts to 19 inches, along with lots of blue runners. They also caught twenty keeper lane snapper to 13 inches and some large grunts, which they added to the box with the keeper grouper, and decided to release the rest of their catches, which included twenty whitebone porgies, and a 24-inch king mackerel.
As predicted, winds began picking up Sunday afternoon, and they grew stronger by Monday. Offshore fishing was nixed, with seas building to uncomfortable and eventually unsafe levels. So, Tom and Brenda Landrith and friend, Larry Baumgartner, fished inshore with me on a windy Monday morning, 4/7. We fished around the islands just inside New Pass. The trio used live shrimp to catch two nice redfish at 24 and 24 ½ inches. They released stingray and sail-cats, and were happy enough with the pair of keeper reds.
Tuesday morning, 4/8, it was even windier than Monday, and heavy rains were predicted to hit our area by about 1PM. I fished in lower Hickory Bay, just ahead of those rains, with two fifteen-year-old anglers, Clay Galagher and Devin Neuman. The boys used live shrimp to catch a keeper black drum at 19 inches and a 13-inch keeper sheepshead. They released a few shorts, including a 17-inch redfish and a 21-inch snook.
Wednesday, 4/9, winds howled all day, with near gale-force gusts, and even backwater fishing would have been more challenging than fun. I happened to have a cancellation for Thursday, so I advised my scheduled Wednesday trip to defer their excursion to Thursday morning, when winds were much calmer. John and Ann Piccolo and their two young sons, Connor and Justin, fished with me on Thursday in lower Hickory Bay's backwaters, 4/10, where they used live shrimp to box eight keeper mangrove snapper to 12 inches, along with a 13 ½-inch sheepshead. The family released a half-dozen smaller snapper and a couple of stingray.
Friday, 4/11, I fished 28 miles offshore in calm seas with frequent fishers Ron Musick and Eddie Alfonso, and friend Mike Tobin. The lane snapper bite was on, and the guys caught twenty-four of those to 14 inches, along with fifteen keeper whitebone porgies and some grunts. We released some blue runners, and also put one of those on some heavier tackle, which caught a 50-inch-plus barracuda, estimated at 45 to 50 pounds. We photographed and released it, after it wore out both me and Eddie!
Saturday morning, 4/12, was reserved for my grandson, Cody Hennessey, who turned eighteen yesterday. We headed out 28 miles west of New Pass in somewhat sloppy seas that calmed down a little later, and had a great six hours of fishing. Cody will be feeling the soreness in his arms tonight when he heads to his high school prom! We caught a 55-inch, 50-pound king mackerel on a blue runner, with no steel leader: That battle lasted about 40 minutes, and we photographed the beast and released it. But the big-game battles weren't over; an 8 ½-foot hammerhead shark bit a spot-tail grunt we had on heavy mono leader (again, no steel) with a big circle-hook, which was rigged for grouper. Another 45-minute battle ensued, and we got the shark to the surface for photos and then released him. As for food fish, red grouper were biting spot-tail grunts too, and we caught three keeper red grouper at 21 ½ inches, 22 inches, and 27 ½ inches. We released numerous red grouper shorts. Using live shrimp, we added to the box six keeper lane snapper, five whitebone porgies to 15 inches, and a mess of grunts to 14 inches.
The photo shown is of angler Cody Hennessey, with a 50 lb, 55-inch king mackerel, caught on a blue runner, 28 miles west of New Pass on an offshore Fishbuster Charter 4/12/14.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link.
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
The wind is howling today, and there is a small craft advisory through tomorrow, so offshore isn't looking real good until later this week. The tide is high in the backwaters today so, if wind doesn't bother you, inshore fishing should be fine.
More Fishing Reports: