SW FL-Bonita Beach: Lots of Action & a 20-inch Hogfish!
Capt. Dave Hanson
January 21, 2013
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Tuesday, 1/8, I headed well offshore, 37 miles west of New Pass, with frequent customer Ron Musick and friends, Eddie Alfonso, Dick Arnett and Ralph Lussluer. We had a good day fishing with live shrimp, and the guys landed four keeper red grouper, 21 ˝ inches, 22 ˝ inches, 24 inches and the prize winner at 27 inches. They also kept seven whitebone porgies to 18 ˝ inches, and released eighteen others, since they had no need for that many fish. Added to the fish-box were four keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches. The guys released a 16-inch amberjack and six gag grouper to 18 inches. A couple of big sharks were around and bit off a couple catches but we managed to reel in most of them!
Wednesday morning I fished Estero Bay's backwaters with Vince Graham, Bernie Saltor, and Denny Mascioli. The guys used live shrimp to catch two keeper redfish at 19 inches and 21 inches, along with a 15-inch keeper sheepshead an 18-inch black drum keeper, and a 12-inch keeper mangrove snapper. They released ten smaller sheepshead.
Thursday, with seas predicted to be two-to-three feet offshore, I headed out only about seven miles before we encountered three-to-five-foot seas. John Leahy and friends toughed it out, and caught and released a 28-inch gag grouper, which bit a grunt that was being reeled in. They also caught and released seven additional gag and red grouper shorts, a small triggerfish, and a bunch of blue runners. They took home some pan-fish too, with four porgies to 14 inches, a 22-inch Spanish mackerel, and seven good-sized grunts.
Friday, seas were considerably calmer than they'd been the day before, and I was able to get out nineteen miles, with frequent customer Mike Connealy and his friends, Rick Rosen and John Pound. The guys used live shrimp to catch a mess of lane snapper, ten of which were keepers to 12 inches. They also caught porgies to 14 inches, and released lots of gag and red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Saturday morning, seas were still calm enough to head offshore, where I fished, using live shrimp in 38 feet, with brothers Bill and Bob Latham, Bob graham, Dell Bowden, and Rich Meyer. The guys caught a keeper hogfish at 13 inches and released a 22 ˝-inch gag grouper, due to closed season. They also caught a mess of porgies, including half a dozen nice-sized keepers, some large grunts, a brace of 13-inch keeper mangrove snapper, and a 20-inch Spanish mackerel. In addition to the extra porgies, they released two smaller snapper, a dozen red-grouper shorts, fifteen gag grouper shorts, a 15-inch scamp grouper, triggerfish to 15 inches, and a small kingfish.
Monday, 1/14, I headed out nineteen miles west of New Pass with Fred Matthews, Harry Rigsby, and Hal Bennett. The guys had good success fishing with live shrimp, and caught a keeper red grouper at 21 ˝ inches, five nice whitebone porgies to 17 inches, a 13-inch keeper mangrove snapper, a keeper sheepshead at 13 inches, and a mess of grunts. They released lots of red grouper shorts, a gag grouper (due to closed season) and a short triggerfish.
Tuesday morning brought calm seas, and I headed out 22 miles from New Pass with Mike and Barb Haacke and Bruce and Beth Garner. The couples planned to head back north the following morning, so they had no interest in keeping fish—just catching them! They did well with that mission, using live shrimp and small grunts to land three keeper-sized red grouper to 22 inches, as well as the largest hogfish I've encountered in my many years of catching them: This beauty was a full 20 inches, and was gratefully accepted as a gift to the captain! The group also released a few gag grouper, a few short yellowtail snapper, porgies and grunts. There were signs of red tide out there, with lots of dead mullet around, but it sure didn't hurt our fishing one bit!
Wednesday, I fished all day with John Rankin, Norm Grieve, Ferrell Fulkerson, Peter Tam and Gary Jackson, and Bob Fulertec, 37 miles west of New Pass, where the guys used live shrimp to catch a nice variety of fish. Red grouper were abundant, but we only got one that was a keeper, at 22 inches. We released lots of red grouper shorts, along with four scamp-grouper shorts. Added to the bag were a mess of nice whitebone porgies, all of which were about 17 inches, along with a dozen nice keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches, three keeper 12-inch yellowtail snapper, a keeper porkfish at 12 inches, and a keeper triggerfish at 14 1/4 inches. We had several sharks try to terrorize our catches, along with sea turtles also out for a free meal. The turtles managed to eat a couple of our catches as they were being reeled in, and the turtles' powerful jaws actually crushed the heads of a few fish, leaving jaw imprints. But the guys came in with plenty of fish, despite the competition!
Thursday, a weather-front came through the area, and small craft advisories were in effect by 10 AM, so I had to cancel my offshore trip for that day. Friday brought howling winds, cold temperatures, low tide, and a bit of drizzle, and I cancelled my bay trip, due to poor conditions. Add to that a little red tide, which has been plaguing our inland waterways for the past week or so, and conditions remained poor in the bay for Saturday's trip, which I also cancelled. So that's it for now, and I am hoping for some improved conditions soon.
The photo shown is of angler Mike Haacke with a 20-inch hogfish (the largest I have seen around here), 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:
Seas are calm today, and they should remain moderate this week, if no surprises. Red tide has infested the backwaters, but will hopefully be moving out soon. For now, offshore is the best bet.
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