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SW FL-Bonita beach: Red Grouper Season is On!

Capt. Dave Hanson
April 15, 2013
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Monday, April 1st was the first day of red grouper season re-opening, and I headed out to fish in spots 28 miles and 36 miles west of New Pass with Ron Lash, Kelley Wood, Peter Vitale, and their friends Bob and John. We used a few different live baits—shrimp, pinfish and grunts—to catch a bunch of fish of all kinds. The guys caught seven red grouper, including two at 21 inches and 22 ½ inches, which they kept, and five that were just barely at 20 inches, which we released to be on the safe side. We also released six gag grouper (which are still out of season) to 25 inches. Added to the fish box were ten nice whitebone porgies to 17 inches, three yellowtail snapper all 13 to 14 inches, four mangrove snapper all 15 to 17 inches, six keeper lane snappers (of the ten caught), and some large grunts. The guys got to exercise their muscles on a couple of sharks too—a four-foot sandbar shark and a nine-foot hammerhead--both released, but we got a photo of the hammerhead—No April foolin'!

Tuesday, I headed out 30 miles from New Pass on a full-day trip with frequent fishers Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonso, Bob Mayer, and friend Wayne. We were in dense fog until about 3PM, with about 400 feet of visibility. But that didn't stop the guys from reeling in some nice red grouper. They caught three keepers, at 22 inches, 24 inches and 27 ½ inches, all on grunts. We lost two that were even bigger to a big shark who decided he needed them more than we did! The group also caught ten porgies, and released all but the largest one at 16 inches. They also bagged a few keeper lane snapper, caught on shrimp.

Brad DeWise, his fourteen-year-old son, Cole, Brad's dad, Randy DeWise, and friend, Dave Storm, fished 20 miles west of New Pass with me on Wednesday, the last day this week likely to be good for offshore fishing, with a weather front due in Thursday to kick up winds and seas. The group used live shrimp to catch a keeper, 21-inch red grouper along with two dozen keeper lane snapper. They released twenty red grouper shorts, some mangrove snapper shorts, blue runners, and two nice bonito that weighed 8 pounds and 9 pounds each. The 9-pounder is shown below:

Click to Enlarge Photo

Thursday, with the front approaching, seas were beginning to get choppy in the gulf. Frank Partee and son-in-law, Joe Regan, traded their offshore fishing plans for a morning of fishing Estero Bay's backwaters. The pair caught two keeper redfish at 19 ½ and 22 ½ inches, and released one redfish-short at 17 inches. They also caught three keeper sheepshead at 13 inches, 15 inches and 19 ½ inches, and they reeled in a 20-inch crevalle jack that broke off boatside, just before release.

Friday morning, we awoke to rain that didn't quit until well into the afternoon. I cancelled the near-shore excursion scheduled for that day. By Saturday morning, 4/6, the cool front had moved through, and skies were clearer, but winds had the gulf churned up. I fished inshore, in Estero Bay, with Ryan Patzfahl and son, Jared. The father-son team used live shrimp to catch three keeper sheepshead to 15 inches and nine keeper-sized black drum to 19 inches. They chose to keep three drum, and released the rest, along with some smaller sheepshead, mangrove snapper shorts, and a crevalle jack.

Monday, 4/8, I fished 22 miles west of New Pass with Rob Atwood, along with his two sons, Robbie and Jake, and his daughter, Patience. The family caught ten red grouper, including two keepers at 21 inches and 22 ½ inches. They also caught twenty-five keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, a 15-inch keeper mangrove snapper, and a 20-inch Spanish mackerel, all on live shrimp. The group released lots of blue runners and mangrove snapper shorts.

Marcel and Christine Andrey and their two young sons, Gian, age four, and Laurin, age three, fished Estero Bay with me on Tuesday morning. The family used live shrimp to catch six black drum, including five keepers to 22 inches, and four sheepshead, including a nice keeper at 17 inches. They also caught a keeper, 11-inch mangrove snapper. The little boys were tuckered out after about 3 ½ hours of fishing, but they sure hung in there well for their ages!

Wednesday morning seas were rougher than predicted when I headed offshore with frequent customers Mike & Leah Connealy. So we made way slowly out to 19 miles, where we used live shrimp and pinfish for our morning of fishing. Mike caught a keeper red grouper at 23 inches, and Leah caught and released a 28-inch gag grouper. The couple added to the fish box three porgies to 16 inches and five good-sized grunts. They released a dozen red grouper shorts and another smaller gag.

Thursday, my offshore trip cancelled, due to another weather-front bringing three-to-five foot seas.

Friday morning, I fished in a windy Estero Bay with Brian and Leah Thurston and Bob Morris. The trio used live shrimp to catch two keeper black drum at 15 inches and 17 inches, and they released four sheepshead.

Saturday morning, 4/13, I fished inshore in Estero Bay with Mike Rohbach and his nine-year-old grandson, Matthew. The pair used live shrimp to catch lots of fish—Matthew himself caught twenty-two in all! Those included a keeper 19-inch redfish, a keeper black drum at 15 inches, a half-dozen short sheepsheead (released) and about twenty-five small snappers (released.) Grandpa Mike also released his share of small sheepshead and mangrove

You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action visnapper, along with a crevalle jack. He also caught one keeper-sized mangrove snapper at 11 ½ inches.

Check out our action fishing videos at the following link:

Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:

Seas are calm today, and are predicted to remain that way through most of this week. Temps are climbing to 90 degrees, so load up on water and go catch 'em up! Inshore fishing has also been good with higher tides now than we had in the winter months.

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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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