Black Drum Invasion! Red grouper too
Capt. Dave Hanson
December 1, 2016
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
I had quite the active morning of fishing the south end of Estero Bay on Wednesday morning, 11/2, with Dave Mercer, friend Rod Knudson, and Rod's ten-year-old grandson, Gavin Knudson. The trio, who were fishing a catch-and-release trip using live shrimp, landed ten would-be-keeper black drum: a 21-inch, 24-inch, 25-inch, 26-inch, 28-inch, three 30-inch and two 31-inch. The guys also released a 20-inch bonefish, a 12-inch mutton snapper, a short sheepshead, a sand bream, and two 11-inch mangrove snapper.
Friday, 11/4, was the first day in several weeks that was calm enough to head offshore. With winds predicted to howl again by the following day, it was a short window of opportunity for Dick Wilson and John Vest, who fished with me 22 miles west of New Pass. The guys caught two keeper red grouper, one just over 21 inches and one just over 22 inches. They also caught a 6-pound bonito, and lost two other bonitos that broke the line. We added to the box twenty keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, and released short lanes and short red grouper. We used pinfish for the grouper; shrimp and squid for the rest.
Brothers, Joe and Mark Shamroske fished south Estero Bay's backwaters with me Monday morning, 11/7. The guys had an active morning of catch-and-release fishing, using live shrimp. Black drum were biting well, and the guys caught eight of those, including some big ones to 34 inches. They also caught a 15-inch sheepshead.
The black drum were out in force again on Wednesday morning, 11/9, when I fished Estero Bay with Ralph Percasio, his son, Sal, and Ralph's brother, Steve. But, even though we clearly saw thirty-some drum as large as 35 inches, none of them would take a bait. The difference in the bite this day was probably due to the fact that the tide was super slow—high enough, but hardly moving. The guys did catch and release five sheepshead, a sand bream, and two mangrove snapper.
Thursday morning, 11/10, winds calmed down quite a bit, and I was able to get 22 miles offshore with Ashton Lockhart and Joey Beach. Joey caught a 22-inch, keeper red grouper, which bit on a small grunt. Using shrimp, the guys caught eight grunts and eight keeper lane snapper. They released numerous red grouper shorts.
Friday, 11/11, I headed offshore 27 miles from New Pass with brothers, Mike and Patrick Connealy. With squid for bait, the guys caught a keeper 25-inch red grouper, along with fifteen keeper lane snapper to 16 inches. They released ten large grunts and a 15-inch triggerfish, along with lots of red grouper shorts.
Ronald and Audrey Secrest, their son and daughter-in-law, Craig and Sue, and their two grandsons, T.J. and Parker, fished 17 miles offshore with me Saturday morning, using squid for bait. The family caught two keeper red grouper at 21 inches and 23 inches, along with fifteen keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, and a dozen grunts to 13 inches. They chose to release twenty-six additional grunts.
Christina Tinucci, her mom, Andrea Tinnuci, and Christina's boyfriend, Sean O'Malley, fished the south end of Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Wednesday morning, 11/16. The group caught eight black drum ranging in size from 15 inches to 27 inches. They kept seven of the smaller ones, which are good to eat, and released the larger ones, along with five sheepshead shorts. Christina also landed a nice, 26-inch redfish. Everything bit on live shrimp.
Seas offshore were rougher than predicted on Thursday morning, 11/17, when I headed out 20 miles west of New Pass to fish with Chris and Debbie Ledley, Bill Conklin, and friends, Mike and Bill. It calmed down some a little later in the day, and the group used squid to catch a 21-inch, keeper red grouper, along with fifteen keeper lane snapper and a dozen grunts. A goliath grouper that was in excess of 200 pounds provided an exhausting and fun battle, when it bit on a pinfish.
I had a gulf trip planned for Monday, 11/21, but the cold-front that came through kicked up seas offshore, and foiled those plans.
By Tuesday morning, 11/22, seas had begun to calm down, and I was able to get offshore 20 miles to fish with Donald Rokas and his son-in-law, Jeff Ralson. It was still windy, and it was sloppy heading out, but it calmed down nicely about mid-morning. The guys caught fourteen red grouper, including two keepers at 21 inches and 25 inches, which bit on small grunts. They added to the fish box a dozen keeper lane snapper to 14 inches, along with twenty grunts, and released an equal number of grunts. The snapper and grunts bit on squid.
Wednesday morning, 11/23, I headed back out to 20 miles offshore with Jerry Farina and his family, including two young children. The family caught and released sixteen red grouper shorts to 19 7/8 inches, just 1/8 inch below legal keeper size. But the group got to box plenty of fish, including half a dozen lane snapper keepers and ten grunts. They released thirty additional grunts, having no need for that many fish. We had four cobia around the boat, only one of which bit on our squid bait. It measured 27 inches, and we released it.
After a day off for Thanksgiving, I headed offshore on Friday morning, 11/25 to fish 19 miles west of New Pass with Jake Widner and his dad, Mike. Using squid, the guys caught and released seven red grouper shorts to 19 ˝ inches. They boxed four keeper lane snapper, fifteen of the twenty-five grunts they caught to 13 inches, a 12-inch porgy, and a 13-inch porkfish.
Saturday morning, 11/26, I fished 22 miles west of New Pass with Jim Jensen, and his son and daughter, Eric and Stephanie. The family used live shrimp and frozen squid to catch and release ten red grouper shorts to 18 inches, and to box ten of the twenty-five grunts they caught, along with three keeper lane snapper.
Monday morning, 11/28, was windy, but I had an inshore trip planned, so we managed okay fishing in south Estero Bay, using live shrimp. Dave and Wendy Boehm caught four keeper sheepshead to 14 inches, and released nine short ones. They also released two puffer-fish and one crevalle jack.
Long-time winter customers, Ernie and Millie Metusiak, fished south Estero Bay with me on Tuesday morning, 11/29, where they used live shrimp to box five keeper sheepshead to 14 inches. They released a dozen sheepshead shorts, along with one ladyfish.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
The photo shown is of Joe Shamroske with a 34-inch black drum, one of many drum caught on shrimp in Estero Bay this month.
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
It has been windy this past week, but is calm today. Winds are forecast to increase for the last part of this week but, hopefully, not enough to prohibit fishing offshore. Both offshore and inshore fishing has been productive recently, so there are options!
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