SW FL-Bonita Beach: Red Grouper, Snapper, Cobia, Shark, Redfish,
Capt. Dave Hanson
June 17, 2013
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
I fished Saturday, 6/1, and I headed offshore about 36 miles west of New Pass to fish in 71 feet with Craig Daniels, Chip Lehman, and friends Bubba and Paul. We had a great day of fishing in good conditions. We used shrimp and squid to catch most everything, except the grouper, which bit grunts. The guys landed two keeper red grouper at 23 inches and 25 inches, and they released lots of red grouper shorts, along with two would-be-keeper (but out of season) gag groupers at 22 inches. They also caught twenty keeper-sized whitebone porgies, but chose to release fourteen of them, keeping only the six largest to 20 inches. Added to the fish box were a half-dozen keeper lane snapper, all about 11 inches, seven nice mangrove snapper keepers to 17 inches, and a half-dozen yellowtail snapper keepers to 14 inches. We released lots of lane snapper shorts, along with three 20-inch amberjacks and an 18-inch almaco-jack.
Monday, 6/3, NOAA predicted calm seas of two feet, out to 60 miles. But when I saw the radar and all the rain over the gulf, thanks to a tropical depression, I knew the seas would be rougher than that. Craig Pirlot, his daughter, Dana Huff, and Dana's husband, Shane Huff, took my advice to fish inshore instead. The group used live shrimp in Estero Bay to catch two keeper redfish at 19 1/2 inches and so inches, along with a three keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches. They released two stingray and a crevalle jack.
Wednesday, 6/5, I had planned to fish inshore with a party of three, but Mother Nature had different ideas. It rained nearly all day, thanks to a tropical depression over the area, and I remained in port. That depression turned into Tropical Storm Andrea, which dumped heavy rains upon us for the three days, along with gusty winds and adverse sea conditions. My offshore trip, planned originally for Friday, then deferred to Saturday, and then finally postponed to Monday, as Saturday was a calming-down day, but with lots of instability and moisture still over the gulf.
Joe and Liz Stratta, along with Gary and Kara Czarnecki and their young daughter, Alexis, were finally able to get out to the near-shore reefs off Bonita Beach with me on Monday. Although seas had finally calmed considerably, sloppy conditions persisted offshore and near-shore was a more comfortable place to be. The group used live shrimp to catch a 14-inch pompano, a keeper whiting and a keeper silver trout. They released ten mangrove snapper shorts, along with a 30-inch cobia.
Wednesday morning, 6/12, I headed out 20 miles from New Pass on a catch-and-release trip with father-and-son anglers, Doug and Wade Shepherd. We used grunts and small lane snapper for grouper fishing, and shrimp for everything else. The guys also wanted to experience a goliath on the line, but the goliaths insisted on hitting our light poles, never biting anything on heavy tackle. The guys caught and released a keeper-sized red grouper at 20 1/2 inches, and released eight additional red grouper to 19 3/4 inches. They also released a twenty porgies to 15 inches, six mangrove snapper shorts, six yellowtail shorts, and grunts.
Friday morning, 6/14, it was a tough call to make on whether to fish offshore or inshore, with Dennis Page and son, Michael. NOAA had predicted two-foot seas within twenty miles and two-to-three foot seas beyond twenty miles, with no rain. It looked like the winds were going to stay fairly calm until afternoon. But, when we got offshore, we had steady 15-knot winds, with two-to three footers close-in, and we also got rained on!. That made fishing a little tougher than we'd hoped. We tried to have some fun with goliath grouper, but all three of my spots had very smart goliaths on them—they wouldn't bite our crevalle-jack baits, though we could see the goliaths below. A barracuda was quite the pest also, trying to rob our goliath-baits. The guys did catch a keeper, 15-inch flounder, a brace of keeper whitings at 14 inches, and a 13-inch keeper mangrove snapper. They released ten crevalle jacks.
Saturday, 6/15, I fished 35 miles out of New Pass with Mike Keczor and Mike Ballinger. The guys used live shrimp to catch thirty yellowtail snapper, including twenty nice keepers to 14 inches. They also got six keeper lane snapper--nice ones to 15 inches, and half-dozen whitebone porgies to 15 inches. They released three triggerfish shorts, along with fifteen red grouper shorts to 19 inches. They also had some fun with sharks, battling and releasing eight bonnet-head sharks, two sharp-nose sharks, and one bull shark, all of which were in the 40 to 45-inch range.
Mike Keczor and Mike Ballinger returned Sunday, 6/16, for a second day of offshore fishing, and seas were even calmer than they had been Saturday. We had a productive day, fishing about 30 miles west of New Pass, using live bait. The guys battled an estimated 200-pound nurse-shark, which they brought to the surface and released, after it bit a bait-fish. Using shrimp, they caught a half dozen keeper yellowtail snapper to 14 inches, and released nine more shorts. They also caught ten nice whitebone porgies to 18 inches. Using pinfish for red grouper worked well, and the guys caught twenty of those, including five keepers, one at 20 1/2 inches, three at 25 1/2 inches, and one 29 1/2 inches. All in all, it was an excellent day of fishing!
The photo shown below is of angler, Gary Czarnecki, with a 30-inch cobia, caught on shrimp and released on a recent offshore trip.
The photo shown below is of angler, Stephanie Rose, with a 22-inch redfish, caught on shrimp in Estero Bay on a recent inshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
Winds and seas are predicted to be calm this week. So, as long as you can stand the heat, both inshore and offshore fishing should be excellent.
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