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Grouper, Snapper, Goliaths, Shark, Reds, Black Drum

Capt. Dave Hanson
September 23, 2016
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

The tropical system, Hermine, which wreaked havoc upon many areas to our north, spared us its worst, but brought high winds and torrential rains for several days, and fishing was out of the question. The ill effects of the storm were gone by Saturday morning, 9/3, but residual rough seas changed Mark Gordon's plan to fish offshore that morning. He, joined by friends, Josh Shapiro and John Hurst, traded those offshore plans for some backwater fishing in central Estero Bay. Using live shrimp and pinfish, the guys caught five mangrove snapper, a three-pound crevalle jack, and a couple of two-pound stingrays. They had a big redfish or black drum hooked at one point, but it ran under a dock and was lost.

Bob March was wanting to fight some big fish on Tuesday morning, 9/6, so we headed out about 17 miles to a few goliath grouper hide-outs, where Bob battled and released a 50-pound goliath and an approximate 200-pound goliath, both of which bit on blue runners. Bob also caught and released some lane and mangrove snapper, as well as crevalle jacks, all of which bit on squid.

Ingo Merz and his two sons fished with me on Wednesday, 9/7, 23 miles west of New Pass, where they used baitfish to land two keeper red grouper at 21 inches and 22 inches. They used squid to catch a mess of keeper lane snapper—about 50 in all--but they released all but ten of those, needing only enough for a couple of family meals. They also released grunts and about thirty red grouper shorts.

Friday, 9/9 was one of those days on the water when, although you try everything, productive catches were hard to come by. Tim Gustin and his son, Chase, have fished with me several times for various species. This time, having noted the fun goliath trip I took earlier in the week with another party, they thought they might also like to go after those big fish. I went to one of my goliath spots, but we got no bites there. I moved to another spot, and the dolphin showed up to disrupt our fishing. Finally, we gave up on goliaths, and began baiting with squid to go after snapper at a different spot. There, the guys caught twelve keeper lane snapper and a few grunts, and released blue runners. Sea conditions were different from what they had been earlier in the week, with winds having picked up and some pretty rough seas where we fished, 17 miles west of New Pass.

Wednesday, 9/14, Jim and Liz Llewellyn fished the Gulf with me. We had planned to head out about 20 miles, based upon the NOAA report of two-foot seas. But, once we got out a way, we knew that prediction was incorrect. Seas were rough, and we ventured no further than the reefs off Naples. We were also keeping an eye on a rain storm that had been predicted to move northeast, but was instead lingering over the coastline. So we fished in the driest, least rough location to be found, using squid. The couple released three red grouper shorts, a blue runner, and a 20-inch ladyfish. At one point, a goliath grouper bit on a fish being reeled in, but it was on light tackle and snapped the line. They also caught a trio of 13-inch grunts.

Thursday morning, 9/15, Michael Arnero and his girlfriend, Karen Tirella, fished Estero Bay's backwaters with me, along the islands east of New Pass, using live shrimp. The couple caught two keeper redfish at 19 inches and 20 inches and three keeper mangrove snapper. One big red and one big snook got caught under the bushes and got away from Karen. But she did catch and release a 19-inch snook.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Joe Hogue, son Adam Hogue, and son-in-law, Dave Piper, fished 35 miles west of New Pass with me on Saturday, using squid for bait. The guys caught two keeper red grouper at 22 inches and 23 inches, and also boxed three keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches and three yellowtail snapper to 15 inches, along with four porgies and a dozen grunts in the 13 to 14-inch range. They released lots and lots of red grouper shorts to 19 ˝ inches, along with a few mangrove and yellowtail shorts. They also released a 30-inch sharpnose shark. Either goliath grouper or shark ate and ran with a couple of fish, but the guys ended up with plenty in the cooler.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Monday, 9/19, Michael Arnero and his girlfriend, Karen Tirella, who had fished Estero Bay with me on Thursday, decided to do the same, this time joined by Michael's brother, Mario. We did our best to fish the best tide, but the tide was not as favorable as it had been on Thursday, when we caught keeper redfish. The group ended up with four keeper mangrove snapper, and they released a dozen mang-shorts, along with a puffer fish, all of which bit on shrimp. We ventured aout a bit to fish along the beach for a while, and released two black-tip sharks, each about 3-foot long.

Four students visiting our area fished the backwaters with me on Thursday morning, 9/22. George Wecken, Peter Havander, and friends, Paul and Jacob, used live shrimp in Little Hickory Bay and also along Bonita Beach to catch a variety of fish. Catches included a 19-inch keeper redfish, a 17-inch keeper black drum, a flounder, and a whiting. George had either a big black drum or a sheepshead hooked a couple of times, but it popped the line just short of boating it. The guys released a two-foot bonnethead shark and a 2-pound stingray.

You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:

Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:

Calm seas and hot temperatures...so hydrate well, and go catch some grouper and snapper offshore. Or, stay in the backwaters for some nice redfish, snook, and drum.

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Private guided saltwater fishing trips, inshore and offshore, around Ft. Myers, Naples and Bonita Beach. Native guide with over 30 years local experience. Good species variety. Reasonable rates. Half and full-day trips offered. We book well in advance throughout the winter months, and slightly in advance during the summer months. Families welcome, and anglers of all ages and experience levels will have a good time.

Contact Info:

Fishbuster Charters, Inc.
Bonita Beach
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Phone: 239-947-1688
Alt. Phone: 239-947-1688
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