SW FL-Bonita Beach: Grouper bite on!
<p>Stormy weather began setting in on Monday, 4/27, with lots of moisture over the gulf. By the time Tuesday rolled around, there were scattered showers over much of the area, but Mike Boden and I managed a morning of bay fishing, with just a few drizzles, and returned to the dock just before the heavy rains began. Mike used live shrimp in central Estero Bay to catch a trio of redfish, two of which were keepers at 18 ½ and 19 ½ inches. He lost a much bigger one that broke the line boat-side. He released four stingray to 4 pounds.
Winds remained strong and seas remained choppy on Saturday, 5/2. Gene and Yoshimi Issacs fished with live shrimp in central Estero Bay with me, in somewhat muddy conditions that were far from ideal. But the couple had a good time catching and releasing fifteen mangrove snapper shorts, one keeper-sized in the bunch, along with eight sheepshead shorts.
There was no getting offshore for the next couple of days, with small craft advisories in effect. I cancelled my offshore trip for Monday, 5/4, and was able to reschedule my Tuesday trip for Wednesday, 5/6, when seas finally calmed down and were actually nearly smooth, 22 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with brothers Tom and David Duval and their wives, Kate and Bev. The group did well using live shrimp. They boxed six keeper lane snapper to 14 inches, four keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, three porgies to 15 inches, and a 22-inch keeper red grouper. They released four mangrove snapper shorts, along with twenty red grouper shorts to 19 ½ inches, within a half-inch of keeper-size.
Thursday morning, 5/7, was another nice one offshore, where I fished 20 miles west of New Pass with Don and Cathy Balas and their friends, Richard and Louise Guimond. Using live shrimp, the couples landed fifteen keeper lane snapper, a half dozen keeper porgies to 14 inches, an 18-inch Spanish mackerel, and a keeper red grouper measuring 21 ½ inches. They released twenty-five additional red grouper that were shorts.
Friday morning, 5/8, I fished 21 miles offshore with Jim Jenkins, father-son team David and Eric Ewing, and Ken Fiedler. The group caught a lot of fish, including two keeper red grouper at 20 inches and 22 inches, the larger of them biting on a bait-fish, and the smaller on a live shrimp. The guys also used shrimp to catch and release twenty-eight red grouper shorts to 19 ½ inches. They boxed twenty keeper lane snapper and released an equal number of lane shorts, along with a half dozen mangrove snapper shorts. They topped off the fish box with two keeper porgies, and released four porgy shorts.
Monday, 5/11, seas were predicted to be two feet, but both winds and seas were higher than predicted 26 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with long-time, annual customers Doug and Wade Shepherd, father and son. We cut the planned full-day trip a little short, having caught plenty of fish and having had enough sloppy seas and heat by mid-afternoon. The guys caught three keeper red grouper, one at 22 inches, and a brace of 21-inchers. They released twenty red grouper shorts to 19 inches. They also caught eleven keeper lane snapper, and released lots of lane shorts. Everything bit on live shrimp.
Tuesday morning, 5/12, Justin Padgett, Ty Cooper, Randy Parks, and Doug Winters headed out with me to 22 miles west of New Pass. The guys caught thirty red grouper, including a keeper at 23 inches, which bit on a bait-fish. The shorts, to 18 ½ inches, bit on shrimp. The guys also got twenty lane snapper keepers, and released several shorts.
Good friends, Alan Upin, Richard Gerstein, and Ed Blackman, fished the backwaters of central Estero Bay on a catch-and-release trip with me on Wednesday morning, 5/13. Using live shrimp, they released a 17 ¾-inch redfish, a dozen mangrove snapper including five would-be-keepers, and two stingray to ten pounds.
The photo shown is of angler Bradley Miller, with a 25 ½-inch gag grouper, caught on a bait-fish and released on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link.
25 1/2-inch gag grouper on a bait-fish; released
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.