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SW FL-Bonita Beach:Nice Reds Inshore; Grouper & Snapper Offshore

Capt. Dave Hanson
April 1, 2013
Bonita Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Monday, 3/18/13, I fished about 19 miles west of New Pass with Chris Ernberger, his son, Carter, Chris' dad, Jerry Ernberger, and friends Greg and Spencer. The group used live shrimp to catch five nice sheepshead, all 15 and 16 inches, four whitebone porgies, all around 14 inches, two keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, three keeper porkfish, and an 18-inch hogfish. They released a 22-inch red grouper and several gag grouper to 22 inches, due to closed season.

Tuesday morning, I headed to the near-shore reefs off Bonita Beach with Scott Saveraid, his daughter, Caroline Saveraid, and four of her friends, Ana Kugler, Elise Castro, Anna Delleman, and Claire Rayburn. The group used live shrimp to catch thirty sheepshead to 17 inches and four Spanish mackerel to 22 inches. They released half a dozen mangrove snapper shorts.

Wednesday morning, weather was a little unsettled, in advance of an approaching cold front. But, that didn't stop my six, hardy young anglers, here on spring-break, from heading out about 19 miles west of New Pass to catch some fish. Matt Meade and friends rode out a small squall with me, and then resumed using live shrimp to catch a nice variety of fish. Catches included three nice sheepshead to 18 inches, five whitebone porgies, all in the 14 to 15-inch range, and a keeper 12-inch porkfish. They released six gag grouper to 21 inches, seven red grouper to 22 inches, ten bluefish to 14 inches, blue runners, one short porkfish, and a few mangrove snapper shorts.

Jerry, Chris and Carter Ernberger, who had fished offshore with me on Monday, fished Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Thursday morning. The guys used live shrimp to land a 22-inch redfish, a brace of 18-inch black drum, three 14-inch sheepshead, and three 11-inch mangrove snapper. They released ten smaller sheepshead and five crevalle jacks to 20 inches.

Frequent customers, Jim McGrath and Bill Crockett, fished Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Friday morning, and landed two nice, keeper redfish at 22 and 25 inches, along with a 15-inch black drum. They released five smaller black drum a 20-inch ladyfish, and sixteen sheepshead to 14 inches. All were caught on live shrimp.

Saturday morning,, 3/23, seas were predicted to be fairly calm until afternoon, but the winds were strong, and the time-line on the predicted rough seas was questionable. Brothers Brett, Andrew and Kurt Dargis, along with friend, Bob Rose, decided that inshore fishing would be the safest bet, and we had quite a productive morning of fishing, along the channel edges in Estero Bay, where the wind was a little calmer. The group used live shrimp to catch six nice, black drum that ranged in size from 15 to 19 1/2 inches. They also caught a 15-inch, keeper sheepshead and a keeper mangrove snapper. They released a bunch of smaller sheepshead, as well as crevalle jacks.

By Sunday evening, another of our all too frequent weather fronts this season came through our area, bringing very rough seas and gusty winds that persisted into mid-week of the following week. I remained in po0r 3/25, 3/26, and 3/27. The northerly winds pushed the water out of the bays and estuaries, making inshore fishing a poor option too. So there was nothing to do but cancel trips on one of the busiest weeks of the year.

Thursday, 3/28, with the gulf still churned up from days of windy conditions, Richard Dahnke, son Jeff, grandson Nate, and friend John McClure decided to try some inshore fishing instead of their planned offshore excursion. Conditions were far from optimal, with low tides and muddy waters, but the group used live shrimp to catch and release four sheepshead to 13 1/2 inches, one 13-inch black drum, and a 22-inch ladyfish.

Friday morning, I managed to fish near-shore, at the reefs off Bonita Beach, as seas were finally beginning to calm. I fished with Rich Driscoll and family, and they used live shrimp to catch seventeen sheepshead in all, including two keepers to 17 inches, along with two 24-inch Spanish mackerel. They released eight mangrove snapper shorts and ladyfish to 24 inches.

Saturday morning, 3/30, seas were finally calm enough to get offshore a ways, and I headed out nineteen miles from New Pass with Chris Bumgartner, his dad Larry, Chris' daughter Madeline, and Madeline's friend, Hannah. The group used live shrimp to catch thirty-five lane snapper, twenty-five of which were keepers to 13 inches. They also caught two 12 -inch keeper mangrove snapper and a 23-inch Spanish mackerel. They released fifteen red grouper shorts to 18 inches.

The photos shown are of angler, Ron Musick, with a 29" gag grouper, caught on shrimp and released on a recent offshore trip.

Click to Enlarge Photo


Angler, Jim McGrath, with a 25 1/2" redfish, caught on shrimp on a recent inshore trip.

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


Bonita Beach Fishing Forecast:

Seas are predicted to be calm through mid-week. Wednesday night, a front is expected to pass through, bringing rough conditions for the end of the week and weekend. Fishing offshore should be good through Wednesday. Wind direction and tides will have much to do with the quality of inshore fishing later in the week.

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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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