SW FL-Bonita Beach: Pompano, Sheepshead, Drum
Capt. Dave Hanson
January 6, 2014
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Saturday morning, 12/21/13, the winds, which had been pretty much steady all week, were still blowing hard, and seas were predicted to be three-to-four feet offshore. But, with dead-low tides in the bay, Butch Haggin, his son-in-law, John Sims, and grandson, John Sims, Jr. decided they'd have a better chance catching fish as far out as conditions would allow than they would have fishing inshore. So we headed to the near-shore reefs and to a few other spots within ten or eleven miles of shore. The guys used live shrimp to catch two 13-inch keeper mangrove snapper, an 11-inch porkfish, and a mess of grunts. They released gag grouper shorts, red grouper shorts to 17 inches, short mangrove snapper and triggerfish, and blue runners, along with a brace of 16½-inch, out-of-season hogfish.
Monday morning, 12/23, the winds were much calmer, though predicted to increase late in the day and into Tuesday. Frank Barry, his daughter, Becky Rivera and her two sons, Zach and Tim, joined by friend, Emily Suma, took advantage of the calmer conditions to head offshore with me, about 18 miles west of New Pass, where they fished with live shrimp. The group caught four nice sheepshead to 17 inches, three keeper porkfish, and a mess of grunts. They released a 19 ½-inch red grouper, just short of legal size, along with a 17-inch hogfish, which is out of season until January 1st. They also released a half dozen yellowtail snapper shorts, a half dozen triggerfish shorts, and four smaller porkfish.
The morning of Christmas-eve, Tuesday, 12/24, I fished in Estero Bay with George Siambones and his three sons, George Jr., David, and Matt. The boys had originally planned to fish offshore, but the weather and sea conditions prevented that, with small craft advisories issued and six-to-right feet seas offshore. I figured the backwaters might be a good option, since there was finally some water in it, unlike the low tides we have had over the past several days. So, we headed into Estero Bay, where the boys did well, fishing with live shrimp. They caught three 16-inch pompano, two 16-inch black drum, a 16-inch sheepshead, and a 19-inch redfish. They released a few crevalle jacks, a 24-inch ladyfish, and a couple of 5-pound sailcats.
Christmas Day and the day after were spent with family, on land.
Friday, 12/27, I fished inshore in Estero Bay on a windy morning, with Sven and Carinna Petterson. The couple used live shrimp to catch two keeper mangrove snapper and three keeper sheepshead, one measuring 14-inches, and two at 16 inches. They released smaller sheepshead.
Saturday morning, 12/28, with the winds still blowing and seas rough offshore, I fished inshore in Estero Bay again with Dave Carey and his son, Dan, along with friends George Siambones and his son, Matt, both of whom fished with me on Christmas Eve. The foursome used live shrimp to catch pompano and sheepshead, boxing a 16-inch pompano and two sheepshead measuring 14 and 16 inches. They released smaller catches, along with four stingray weighing two to three pounds and five sailcats weighing three-to-four pounds.
Monday morning, 12/30, Pat and Marta O'Neill and their two young children, Madia, age eight, and Finley, age six, fished a catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay with me. Using live shrimp, the family caught sixteen snapper to ten inches, a 15-pound stingray and two smaller rays, three sailcats, and eight sheepshead to 12 inches.
The morning of New Years' Eve, 12/31, I fished a very rough offshore trip with Chase Gustin and his dad, Tim. The winds were howling, and seas were rough, but we knew that beforehand. The guys still wanted to fish the gulf, rather than fish an outgoing tide in the bay. So we headed out to the near-shore reefs, where we fished in three-to-four foot seas with live shrimp. We had a cobia on, first line cast, but it got free before Chase could get it boated. After that, the guys caught mostly mangrove snapper, sheepshead and Spanish mackerel. The largest sheepshead was a nice one, at 18 inches, and the five Spanish mackerel were to 23 inches.
Thursday's planned offshore trip cancelled, due to high winds, rough seas, and lots of moisture over the gulf, in advance of a cold front, which arrived over-night Thursday. Friday morning, 1/3, was windy and chilly, and the offshore plans that Bob Eckle and his two sons, Nick and Jason, had made, were revised to inshore plans, given the five-eight foot seas offshore. The guys used live shrimp in Broadway Channel to catch a brace of 15-inch pompano and a brace of 13-inch sheepshead. They released ten sheepshead shorts.
Ron Donahue, Glen Morrow, and Ekin Sahin spent a drizzly, chilly Saturday morning with me fishing the oyster bars in lower Hickory Bay on 1/4/14, on a catch-and-release trip. The guys used live shrimp to catch eleven sheepshead, four of them nice ones ranging from 16 ½ inches to 19 ½ inches. They also caught and released two black drum to 20 inches.
The photo shown is of angler Glen Morrow, with a 20-inch black drum, caught shrimp on a recent trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
Brrrrrrrrrrr! Tonight's lows in typically balmy SW FL are predicted to plummet into the 30's. Winds and seas will also be robust. Offshore fishing probably isn't possible until later in the week. And this Florida boy plans to stay in the heated house for tomorrow, for sure!
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