Good Snapper Fishing, Grouper, Shark & More
Capt. Dave Hanson
July 28, 2014
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Tuesday morning, 7/15, thunder was rumbling by about 6AM, but the weather forecasters reported that there were only a few scattered thunderstorms, moving northeast, and that the one that was in north Naples and the Bonita area would soon be gone. So, I went ahead and got bait and readied my boat for repeat customer Larry Jack and his friend, Ernie Morrison, who wanted to fish a full day offshore. We left the dock shortly after a heavy storm had moved through, hoping that was the end of--and radar didn't look too bad. But, we ended up dodging storms a good bit of the morning and early afternoon, and we shortened our excursion from our planned full day. Still, the fishing was good 22 miles west of New Pass, and the guys boated a keeper, 24-inch red grouper, nine lane snapper keepers to 13 inches, and six keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches. We released a dozen red groupers that were just a hair short of 20 inches, along with some smaller ones. The grouper all bit on pinfish, and the snapper on live shrimp. The guys planned to fish with me again the following morning, this time in the backwaters.
So, Wednesday morning, 7/16, Larry Jack and Ernie Morrison fished Estero Bay's backwaters, using live shrimp. There was still plenty of moisture around, but we didn't get poured on, as we did when we had fished offshore the day before. The guys caught a keeper redfish at 18 inches, a 13-inch keeper sheepshead, and nine keeper mangrove snapper. They released four short sheepshead and a 3 ½-pound crevalle jack.
Friday morning, 7/18, was rain-free, unlike the previous morning, which had been full of rain clouds and rough conditions offshore. I had advised Tom Bodell that Friday would be the better of the two days to arrange the near-shore, catch-and-release excursion he wanted for himself, his two young sons A.J. and Alex, and his brother, Bryan Bodell. We headed out to fish in spots 10-12 miles west of New Pass, using live shrimp for bait. The group caught and released fifteen red grouper shorts to 18 inches, fifteen lane snappers (six of which were keeper-size, though we released them all), two crevalle jacks, a 14-inch pompano, and a 38-inch blacknose shark.
Saturday, 7/19, I fished offshore with Nelson Ventura and five of his friends. We fished in spots ranging from 12 to 36 miles offshore. The guys used pinfish for grouper bait and shrimp for everything else. They caught a keeper red grouper at 24 inches, ten keeper porgies to 17 inches, fifteen keeper lane snapper to 16 inches, and half a dozen 13-inch grunts. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts to 19 ¾ inches, lots of short porgies, and a 38-inch blacknose shark.
Dave Bailey and his son, Nathan, fished with me on Monday, 7/21, about 25 miles west of New Pass. They wanted to experience some big fish, but also wanted some fish for the cooler, so we started out closer in, fishing for goliath grouper and shark. The guys got to release one of each: an 80 pound goliath and a 4-foot blacknose shark. Both of those bit shrimp. We used pinfish for grouper, but the twenty or so red grouper we caught were all shorts, up to 19 ½ inches, so we released those. The father-son team did box a dozen keeper lane snapper, all around 12 inches, and they released some lane shorts. They also caught nine whitebone porgies to 13 inches, and kept three of those, along with some grunts to 14 inches.
The rest of the week was quiet, and I was off the water. A few rainy mornings, along with some intense heat, might have dissuaded folks from planning fishing excursions. But this next week looks busier, and we'll hope for cooperative weather and good conditions.
The photo shown is of angler Krista Jones, with a 17-inch lane snapper, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link.
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
Winds are picking up somewhat and seas will be higher than the 1-2 feet of the past week, but it should still be calm enough to get offshore a ways. Rains are a constant presence this week, so look out for storms and check the radar! High tides in the backwaters will make for some good fishing there too.
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