SW FL-Bonita Beach: Crazy-hot snapper bite!
<p>Monday morning, 3/30, after a windy weekend, seas had calmed down to two-to-three feet, and I headed twenty miles offshore with Paul Kikendall and friends, Greg, Rick and Tom. The guys did very well snapper-fishing with live shrimp, and caught forty keeper lane snapper to 14 inches. They released tree red grouper shorts.
Tuesday, 3/31, frequent customers, Ron Musick and Eddie Alfonso, joined by friends, Bob Meyer, Bob's son, Brian Meyer, and Terry and her son, Brennen, fished nineteen miles west of New Pass with me, using live shrimp. The snapper bite was good for mangrove and yellowtail snapper, and the group caught six keeper mangs, all 12-to16 inches, along with three keeper yellowtails to 14 inches. They added twenty-five porgies, all nice ones about 15 inches, along with a mess of grunts to 15 inches. The group released red grouper shorts to 18 ½ inches and gag grouper shorts to 20 inches.
Rob and Sherry Steffen enjoyed a calm morning of fishing offshore with me on Wednesday, 4/1/15. We fished 23 miles west of New Pass, over rocky bottom, and did well with grouper and snapper. The couple caught three keeper red grouper, at 21 inches, 22 inches, and 23 inches. They released forty additional red grouper shorts, including a half dozen that were only ¼ inch short of keeper size—heart-breaking! But they ended up with plenty of good eating fish, adding to the box a mess of nice, keeper lane snapper to15 inches. They caught one of the keeper red grouper on a bait-fish, one on a piece of octopus, and one on a shrimp. The snapper all bit shrimp.
Bill and Marie McSkimming, daughter, Jenn McSkimming, and grandsons, Austin and William Spooner, fished 20 miles west of New Pass with me on Thursday morning, 4/2, using live shrimp for bait. The family caught two king mackerel, one at 26 inches and one at 34 inches. They did well with lane snapper too, culling twenty-five keepers to 14 inches. They released fifteen red grouper shorts to 17 inches, along with some blue runners.
Friday, 4/3, I headed offshore with Gary Brooks, his son-in-law, Justin Herman, future son-in-law, Sean Montellese, and friend, Hans Cooper. The lane snapper bite was hot again, as it has been recently, and the guys caught twenty keeper lanes on shrimp. They added to the box a couple of nice red grouper at 21 inches and 22 inches, both of those also caught on shrimp, and they released another seventy-plus red grouper shorts to 18 inches. A half dozen nice-sized grunts topped off a full fish box.
Saturday morning, 4/4, I fished a catch-and-release trip in the backwaters of Estero Bay with Tom Anderson and his two sons, Ben and Chris. The guys used live shrimp to catch three mangrove snapper, one sheepshead, one snook, and five stingray. One of the stingrays was a big one at about 10 pounds, making for a worthy battle.
Monday morning, 4/6, I fished with long-time customer, Frank Partee, joined by his extended family, Joe, Joe's three sons, Jack, Dave and Michael, and Joe's brother and dad, Pat and Jeff. The guys did well with snapper fishing, using live shrimp, and culled thirty-five keeper lanes to 12 inches, along with four good-sized grunts. They released a dozen red grouper shorts to 17 inches, 22 miles west of New Pass.
Ron Musick and Eddie Alfonso, who fish with me frequently each winter and spring, fished 29 miles west of New Pass on Tuesday, 4/7. The guys loaded up on lane snapper, with twenty-five keepers. They caught about as many porgies and grunts as they did lanes, so there was plenty of table-fare to choose from. Everything bit on live shrimp.
Wednesday morning, 4/8, Nick and Christa Brown, son, Jake, daughter, Marissa, and Nick's parents, Glen and Bernie, fished 19 miles offshore with me, using shrimp for bait. The group caught a total of forty keeper-sized lane snapper, kept eighteen of those, and released the rest. They also caught a 14-inch porgy, an 18-inch Spanish mackerel, and a few grunts. They released ten red grouper shorts to 17 inches, and also released what would have been a 40-inch long king mackerel, that is, if a big barracuda hadn't decided to make it its lunch as it was being reeled in. The 'cuda bit the kingfish off at its dorsal fin, and there was still 25 inches of it remaining on the hook!
Jim Novy has been taking his children, Jimmy, Jacklyn, Jordan and Julia, fishing with me annually for years, ever since the kids were very young. They fished with me offshore on Thursday, morning, 4/9. Conditions were a little sloppy offshore, so we stayed within ten miles of land, and used live shrimp for bait. Action was steady, and the kids counted 104 total fish caught, most of which were released. They boxed two Spanish mackerel and about fifteen keeper lane snapper, along with a few grunts. They released lots of lane snapper shorts, red grouper shorts, and ladyfish.
NOAA's forecast for seas of less than two feet out to twenty miles for Friday morning, 4/10, was not accurate—maybe seas were two feet right off the beach, but they were a lot choppier where I fished, 19 miles west of New Pass, with Roy Mittman and his son-in-law, Zach. The guys braved the waves, and used live shrimp to catch four 14-inch porgies, two keeper lane snapper to 15 inches, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and a few grunts. They released a dozen red grouper shorts.
Saturday morning, 4/11, I fished Estero Bay's backwaters with Sam Sommer and his friend, Jerell. The tide was not optimal, and there was heavy boat traffic and jet-ski traffic, making fishing more of a challenge. The guys had fun, nonetheless, using live shrimp to catch and release some lane snapper shorts, along with two stingray, one of which was a big one at nearly ten pounds.
The photo shown is of angler Sherry Steffen, with a 23-inch red grouper, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link.
23-inch redfish on shrimp
About The Author: Captain Dave Hanson
Company: Fish Buster Charters
Area Reporting: Bonita Beach
Bio: Captain Dave Hanson is a native of southwest Florida. He has been fishing local waters since childhood, and has been fishing professionally for over fifteen years. He is Coast Guard licensed, and is a member in good standing of the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce. He has been featured in several national fishing magazines, and he also appears weekly in the fishing reports sections of the Bonita, Ft. Myers, Ft. Myers Beach, and Naples, FL newspapers.