SW FL-Bonita beach: Fishing good when conditions allow
<p>Monday, 2/16/15, I fished the backwaters of lower Hickory Bay with Patrick Gartland, his dad, Tom Gartland, and friend, Chris Ladtke. The guys used live shrimp to catch four nice sheepshead to 16 inches. They released four redfish shorts in the 17-to-18-inch range, along with a dozen mangrove snapper shorts and a 15-inch snook.
Tuesday, 2/17, high winds and seas prevented an offshore trip, and I fished the backwaters with Steve Fisher and Dale Neil. The spots that had been productive the previous day for large sheepshead were not as productive in terms of keeper-sized fish. The guys used live shrimp to catch and release two 17-inch redfish shorts, three sheepshead shorts, a puffer-fish and a stingray.
Wednesday through Friday, 2/18 through 2/20, brought more winds, rough seas, low tides, and frigid temperatures. I canceled my fishing trips for those days.
Saturday morning, 2/21, I fished in lower Hickory Bay, trying to fish on the best of the morning's low tide. Joe Haberkorn and friends, Jerry and George, released nine ladyfish and a couple of three-pound stingray, caught on shrimp.
Monday morning, 2/23, I headed offshore 22 miles west of New Pass to fish with long-time customer, Kari Vilamaa and his friend George. The guys caught twenty nice lane snapper to 15 inches, three 14-inch porgies, and a few good-sized grunts. They released ten red grouper shorts to 18 inches and two 18-inch gag grouper shorts.
Tuesday 2/24, began foggy and ended foggy, with only a little clearing in between. I fished all day with Jack Miller, his son, Vince, and friends, Alan Feingold, Tim Moore, and Dick Deldello. We went out about 18 miles, and with winds and seas picking up, decided not to venture too much further. The snapper bite was good and the guys boxed eighteen nice mangrove snapper, all 14 and 15 inches, caught on live shrimp. They added to the box a dozen keeper lane snapper, a half dozen 14-inch porgies, a few good-sized grunts, and a brace of 17-inch sheepshead. They released two dozen grouper shorts, a mix of reds and gags, to 18 inches.
Wednesday, 2/25, I fished in various spots between 18 and 28 miles west of New Pass with long-time customer Tony Rolli and his grandsons, A.J. Rolli and Cory Bomer. It was another foggy morning, but it cleared up for most of the day, and got foggy again when the wind changed on our way in. The guys did well fishing with live shrimp, and caught a brace of 21-inch red grouper, a 24-inch king mackerel, a dozen keeper lane snapper to 15 inches, and a few grunts. They released twenty-five porgy shorts, all about 11 ½ inches.
Thursday and Friday, 2/26 and 2/27 brought rain, winds and small-craft advisories yet again--a familiar theme this month. I had to cancel my offshore trips, and the bay was not an option, with barely enough water to float the boat, with negative tide conditions persisting most of each day.
Saturday, 2/27, winds and seas began to calm down, but were still up to 4 feet well offshore. My full-day offshore trip scheduled for that day decided to cancel.
The photo shown is of angler, Tom Gartland with a 16-inch sheepshead, caught on shrimp on a recent trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link.
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.