SW FL-Bonita Beach: Winter Fishing Lookin' Good!
Capt. Dave Hanson
January 7, 2013
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
After Wednesday's trip on 12/19, our weather began deteriorating, with a very windy, cold front that arrived late Thursday into Friday and Saturday. I cancelled my offshore trip for Friday with the Graham family, but I was able to reschedule that for a bay trip with them the morning of Christmas Eve. Bob Graham, his daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Ryan Ness, and his young grandson, Graham Ness, used live shrimp to catch twenty-two sheepshead, eight of which were nice keepers that ranged from 15 to 18 1/2 inches. The family also caught six black drum, four of which were keepers at about 16 inches each. They also released a juvenile goliath grouper.
Christmas Day and the day after were reserved for family events, so I wasn't back on the water until Thursday, 12/27, when I fished Estero Bay's backwaters. Seas offshore were four-to-six feet, with small craft advisories, so heading offshore was out of the question. Jim Madson and family used live shrimp to catch three keeper black-drum to 18 inches, fifteen sheepshead, including eight keepers to 16 inches, and a brace of 12-inch mangrove snapper. The group also released a couple of 16-inch crevalle jacks.
Friday, 12/28, I fished Estero Bay with Brian Clark and Julie Meng. The couple used live shrimp to catch seven keeper sheepshead to 17 inches. They released smaller sheepshead, along with a couple of puffer-fish and stingray.
Saturday morning, in advance of the next cold front predicted to come through the area, I fished a catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay with Dave Carey, his two sons, Dan and Joel, and Joel's girlfriend, Debbie. The group used live shrimp to catch twenty sheepshead to 17 inches, an 18-inch crevalle jack, two black drum at 17 inches and 18 inches, a sand bream (also known as a striped mojara), and puffer-fish.
Monday, the last day of 2012, I spent the morning fishing Estero Bay with Tony and Becky Struble and their three lovely daughters, Katie, Anna and Daisy. The family used live shrimp to catch seventeen sheepshead. They kept a couple of 13-inch sheepies and released the rest. They also caught a 17-inch black drum keeper and a brace of 18 ˝ inch sea-trout. They released a 17-inch redfish and a puffer-fish.
New Years' Day was a day off the water for me, spent with family. On Wednesday, 1/2/13, I headed offshore, about 12 miles west of New Pass, with Bill and Linda Latham, their son and his wife, John and Shannon, and their two young children, Ian and Elle. The family used live shrimp to catch five keeper mangrove snapper, all around 14 inches, two whitebone porgies to 18 inches, a keeper porkfish and a half dozen nice-sized grunts. They released a hogfish short, gag grouper shorts to 19 inches, red grouper shorts to 18 inches, two under-sized triggerfish, and a puffer-fish.
Kari Vilamaa and Jim Swanger fished offshore with me on Thursday, nineteen miles west of New Pass. The guys used live shrimp to catch a keeper hogfish at 15 inches, a keeper red grouper at 24 inches, seven porgies (all between 14 and 16 inches), and a 14-inch mangrove snapper keeper. They released seventeen smaller porgies, a bunch of short mangrove and yellowtail snapper, lots of grunts and a would-be-keeper porkfish.
Friday morning, I headed out nineteen miles again, this time with long-time customer Ron Musick and friends, Eddie Alfonse, Dick Arnett, Tom Collins and Mark Mewhorter. Seas were calm enough but there was a pretty good swell out there. That didn't stop the guys from catching fish, though! They used live shrimp to catch two keeper hogfish at 15 inches and 17 inches, a dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches, a mess of whitebone porgies to 16 inches and a keeper porkfish at 11 inches. The guys released a bunch of additional porgies, twenty red grouper shorts to 18 ˝ inches, and (sadly) three would-be-keeper gag grouper to 30 inches, which had to be let go, due to closed season.
Another weather-front passed through the area, bringing higher winds and seas Saturday morning, so I stayed close in at the near-shore reefs off Bonita Beach when I fished with Scott Severaid and family. They weren't interested in keeping any fish—just showing the kids a good time—and we fulfilled that by using live shrimp to catch and release seven nice sheepshead to 16 inches, lots of mangrove snapper, and a Spanish mackerel.
Monday morning, 1/7, we awoke to rain, but forecasts and radar indicated it would be light and of short duration: the forecasts were wrong. It continued raining into the morning, forcing me to cancel a scheduled inshore trip with a family that included young children.
The photo shown is of angler Tom Collins with a 30-inch gag grouper, caught on shrimp and released (due to closed season) 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:
Today is breezy and rainy--lots of moisture offshore, with more rain likely coming in. But the forecast for this week looks good--summer-like temperatures, and good fishing opportunities on incoming tides in the bay, as well as offshore.
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