SW FL-Bonita Beach: Fishing Great, Inside & Out
Capt. Dave Hanson
August 14, 2014
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Tuesday morning, 7/29, winds were stronger than they had been in about a week, and they were straight out of the west. I advised brothers Jose and Robert Garcia and their sons that we would likely be fishing near-shore, rather than well offshore. Even the spots we fished 8 to 12 miles west of New Pass were fairly rough, with three-to-four foot seas. The guys used live shrimp to catch lane snapper, ten of which were keepers. They added a few grunts to the box. They released lots of red grouper shorts, yellowtail, mangrove and lane snapper shorts, and a 15-inch bluefish.
Long-time customer, Dr. John Carmack, his son Jackson, and his father-in-law, Bill Maslow, fished with me Thursday, 7/31 in various spots ranging from 18 miles to 28 miles west of New Pass. We released fifty red grouper shorts that measured to within ¼ inch of keeper-size; the largest of those at 19 ¾ inches bit on pinfish, while the smaller ones bit live shrimp. The guys used shrimp to box a 20-inch Spanish mackerel, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and two dozen keeper lane snapper to 13 inches. They released thirty-five shorter lanes, along with a half-dozen short yellowtail snapper and a few short mangrove snapper. They also battled and released a brace of 40-inch blacknose sharks.
Friday morning, 8/1, there was some rain over the gulf, but it was moving further offshore. I encountered some heavy rain at the beginning of my fishing trip with Antonio Abrantes, his son, Tony, and Tony's grandfather, Douglas Crane. But the rain moved off, and we were able to remain rain-free for the remainder of the morning, fishing 20 miles west of New Pass. The guys did well with grouper and snapper. They caught a 21-inch, keeper red grouper on a pinfish, and released lots of red grouper shorts. Added to the box were twenty keeper lane snapper, most of which were right about 13 inches, and two keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches. We released lots of smaller lanes.
Father-son anglers Walt and Ian Bond fished with me Saturday morning, 8/2, 18-20 miles west of New Pass. We used pinfish for grouper, and the guys caught four keeper red grouper, two at 24 inches, one at 23 inches and one at 21 inches. They released fifteen red grouper shorts. Lane snapper were biting well on live shrimp, and the guys caught a dozen keeper lanes to 12 inches, which we added to the four keeper red grouper in the box—the makings of a few delicious dinners!
Monday, 8/4, there was some rain on the radar, predictions that morning were for one or two scattered showers in the morning hours, followed by heavier storms in the later afternoon. Seas were predicted to be calm. Chris Henderson and his sons, Dallas and Shawn, had planned to fish a full-day offshore with me. I explained that we might not get the full day in, depending upon the timing of the storms. We got as far as the pass, and encountered huge waves splashing over the sandbars—5 foot seas close-in, and no way to proceed safely with our offshore plans. We returned to the dock and tried to save the morning by reloading everything onto the flats boat to fish the backwaters. We got cut a little short, even on that, as the heavy storms began rolling in right after noon, and we returned to the dock just ahead of a big thunderstorm. But the guys managed to catch a 14-inch, keeper sheepshead and two keeper mangrove snapper. They released a couple of stingray, a crevalle jack, and lots of mangrove snapper shorts, all on live shrimp.
I fished the backwaters of central Estero Bay again on Tuesday morning, 8/5, this time with Colin Castner and his twelve-year-old son, Quinn, on a catch-and-release trip. The father and son used live shrimp to catch and release three black drum measuring 14 inches, 16 inches and 23 inches, along with two sheepshead, a dozen mangrove snapper, four of which were keeper-size, and a brace of 20-inch snook.
A.J. LaPrette, his son, Joe, and Joe's friend, Paul Schnadig, fished inshore in lower Hickory Bay with me on Wednesday morning, 8/6, using live shrimp. The guys caught a 23-inch keeper redfish and three keeper black drum, at 18 inches, 19 inches and 19 ½ inches, along with a keeper mangrove snapper.
Seas were calm by Thursday morning, 8/7, when I fished with Sean Long, his twelve-year-old son, Aedan, and fourteen-year-old daughter, Alex. The family wasn't interested in keeping fish—only catching them—so we did a catch-and-release trip 18 to 20 miles west of New Pass. Using live shrimp, the trio caught and released twenty-five red grouper shorts, six yellowtail snapper shorts, a half dozen mangrove snapper to 13 inches, and thirty keeper-sized lane snapper to 13 inches.
Friday morning, 8/8, seas were predicted to be calm again, but a storm about 25 miles off the coast that was moving northward kicked up winds and seas for a while, as I headed offshore with long-time customers Paul Fenwick, his young daughter Emma, and John Priddy and his daughter Jordan, along with her boyfriend, Zach. Seas calmed down some after that storm moved further away from us, and fishing was good in spots ranging 12 to 20 miles west of New Pass. Emma was very proud of the 14-inch lane snapper she caught, which was the biggest of twenty keeper lanes the group culled. They added four keeper mangrove snapper to the box, all about 13 inches, and released fifteen mang shorts, all caught on shrimp. We grouper fished with pinfish, and the group caught and released a dozen red grouper shorts, one of which was just 1/8 inch short of keeper size.
Chris Baker fished with me Saturday morning, 8/9, on an inshore trip, around the islands in front of Little Carlos, where he used live shrimp to land two keeper redfish, both 19 inches, and three 11-inch keeper mangrove snapper. We released a lot of mangrove shorts.
The photo shown is of angler, Colin Castner with a 23-inch black drum, one of three keeper drum caught that morning.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
Fishing should be good inshore and offshore, as long as you watch out for thunderstorms, and choose the best tides inside.
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