Bull red, drum inshore; Grouper offshore when seas calm
Capt. Dave Hanson
April 9, 2017
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
Five-year-old Ben Dwyer had a great time fishing with his dad, Sean, and his grandpa, Mike, in the backwaters of southern Estero Bay on Saturday morning, 3/25/17. Using live shrimp, the guys caught a total of twelve black drum ranging from 14 inches to 22 inches, and Ben caught three of those by himself, a 14-inch, a 17 inch and a 22-inch. They boxed three of the smaller keepers, which are good to eat, and released the rest. Ben also caught an 18-inch sheepshead by himself, which he added to the fish box.
Monday morning, 3/27, I fished a near-shore, catch-and-release trip with the Russ MiIler family. We began at the reefs off Bonita Beach, but action was slow there, so we moved to some other spots about six miles off the beach, where the family used live shrimp to catch a 14-inch pompano, a 24-inch guitarfish, a dozen blue runners, twenty whitings to 14 inches, and some lane snapper shorts.
Tuesday, 3/28, I headed 22 miles west of New Pass to fish with long time customer, Mike Connealy, and his friend, Ken Kulus, along with Ken's son and daughter, Zach and. Abbey. The group had a very productive morning of fishing, using squid and pinfish. They caught five red grouper, including a nice 25-inch keeper, along with over fifty keeper-sized lane snapper to 15 inches. They kept eighteen of those lanes, along with the keeper grouper, and released the rest.
The photo shown is of Abbey Kulus, with a 25-inch red grouper, caught on a pinfish.
Wednesday, 3/29, was another calm day on the gulf, and I headed out of New Pass to fish 22 miles offshore with long time customer, Frank Partee, his son, John, and Frank's grandchildren, Dave, Michael, and Jack. The family used squid and pinfish to catch twenty-seven red grouper, including two keepers at 21 inches and 23 inches, and shorts to 19 ½ inches that were released. They also boxed twenty-three keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, and released lots more lanes. The larger keeper red grouper bit a pinfish, and was a fun battle on light spinning tackle.
Thursday, 3/30, I spent a windy morning fishing in a pretty low tide in Estero Bay, just south of Mound Key, with Clay and Katie Hall and Katie's brother, Jeff. The family used live shrimp to box three keeper sheepshead, all of which were 15 inches, and to release a half-dozen mangrove snapper shorts.
Friday, 3/31, long time customers and hardy anglers, Lee Larsen, Bud Glazier, and Tom Batchellor were joined by their friend, Alan, to fish 17 miles offshore with me, just ahead of a windy front that was beginning to make seas kind of sloppy by the time we headed back to shore. The guys boxed a keeper red grouper at 21 inches, and released ten red grouper shorts. They added fifteen keeper lane snapper to the fish box, and released two bluefish and some grunts. As we were reeling in a lane snapper, a big king mackerel hit it, then let go. We hooked the chewed-up lane on a heavier pole and cast it out again, this time catching the king, which was 45 inches long. We photographed it at the water's surface and released it.
Joe Lehner, his cousin, Ken, and both their young daughters, Emma and London, fished in southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Saturday morning, 4/1/17. The family used live shrimp to catch an 18-inch black drum and three keeper sheepshead, all around 13 inches. They released a 20-inch snook and a 2-pound stingray.
Estero Bay's action was a little slow on Monday morning, 4/3. When I fished its southern end with Brad Miller. Brad had hoped to fish offshore, but seas of three-to-five feet in the gulf forced a change of plans. Using live shrimp, Brad caught five mangrove snapper, two sheepshead, and a 3-pound jack crevalle, which he released.
Lee and Karen Bach, joined by friend, Tony Mymo and his son, Anthony, fished southern Estero Bay with me on a windy morning Tuesday, 4/4. The group used live shrimp to catch nine black drum to 24-inches, keeping three of those that were 16 inches, since those are the best size to eat. They released the rest of the drum, along with one sheepshead short, two 20-inch snook, and two mangrove snapper shorts.
It was another gusty morning in the backwaters of southern Estero Bay on Wednesday, 4/5, when Leo Walsh and his friend, Jerry, used live shrimp to catch four sheepshead, including two keepers, and released two mangrove snapper shorts and two stingray.
The winds weren't too much calmer on Thursday morning, 4/6, in southern Estero Bay, and Leeds Hutchinson and son, Bill, had to dodge a couple of rain showers with me, but their catch-and-release trip was productive, with three black drum, a sheepshead, a half-dozen mangrove snapper and 29-inch redfish released, after biting on live shrimp.
The photo shown is of Bill Hutchinson, with a 29-inch bull redfish, caught on shrimp and released.
On Friday morning, 4/7, when I returned to southern Estero Bay to fish with Ray Ford, his son, Brian, and their friend, Stu, the winds persisted, but from a different direction, which pushed the water out of the bay and made for a very low tide. So the fishing was not as productive as it had been the previous day in favorable tide conditions. The guys caught and released three black drum, two sheepshead, two mangrove snapper, and four spadefish.
Saturday morning, 4/8, I fished the backwaters of Estero Day with Don Parsons, his dad, Bob, and another family member, Alan. The waters were muddy and the tide low, so conditions were not optimal, but the guys used live shrimp to catch and release spadefish, black drum, and crevalle jack.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:
Winds have been a problem for the past couple weeks, and they continue to blow currently. Hopefully, seas will be calm enough to at least get out within 20 miles of shore. The back-bay fishing is good when the tide is favorable, but winds have been tricky there too, sometimes causing dead-low tides and muddy conditions.
More Fishing Reports: