SW FL-Bonita Beach: Kingfish are here! Grouper, Snapper, Redfish Too
<p>Monday, 3/16/15, I headed offshore nineteen miles west of new Pass with frequent angler, Mike Connealy and his friend, Roger. The guys used live shrimp to catch and release lots of red grouper shorts to 18 inches, lots of mangrove snapper shorts, and lots of blue runners. As for keepers, they boxed nine lane snapper to 12 inches, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and a few grunts.
Tuesday, 3/17, frequent customers, Ron Musick and Eddie Alfonso, fished offshore with me, 19 miles from New Pass, where they used live shrimp to catch a 20-inch keeper red grouper, fourteen keeper lane snapper, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, a 16-inch sheepshead, a 15-inch porgy, and seventeen grunts to 14 inches.
Wednesday, 3/18, I fished in central Estero Bay's backwaters with Dean Bitter, his son, Andrew, and his daughter, Sarah. The family used live shrimp to catch and release three sheepshead shorts and a ten-pound stingray. They boxed an 18 1/2-inch redfish and a 17-inch whiting.
Stuart Norris, who has fished with me each March for many years, brought his son, Buzz, along to fish twenty miles west of New Pass on Thursday, 3/19. The guys had a good morning of fishing, using live shrimp. They caught three king mackerel to 31 inches, twenty lane snapper keepers to 13 inches, and a few grunts. They released a 17-inch red grouper short.
Jim McGrath, son Steve, and family friend, Bill Crockett, fished twenty miles west of New Pass with me Friday morning, 3/20. The lane snapper were biting well on shrimp, and we caught 40 keeper-sized lanes to 13 inches. The guys also caught three king mackerel, ranging 28 inches to 32 inches. They released a red grouper short, a few short porgies, and blue runners.
Saturday morning, 3/21, long-time customers Robin Latham and Chris Welch fished with me, 20 miles west of New Pass. Robin and Chris typically fish inshore but, with very low tides in the bay and calm seas offshore, I recommended they try the gulf this trip, which proved to be productive, especially for snapper. We caught twenty-five lane snapper to 15 inches, along with a 25-inch kingfish and three keeper porgies, including two at 15 inches, all on live shrimp. The guys released four red grouper shorts, all 17-to-18 inches.
Monday morning, 3/23, seas were predicted to be two-to-three feet, but they were four foot, just 5 miles off the beach, at the near-shore reefs I fished with Jim Jensen, Jeff Keiner, Brian Davis and Kevin Ransom. The guys used live shrimp to catch six nice sheepshead to 18 inches and eight grunts to 12 inches. They released a red grouper just ½ inch short of keeper size, along with eight mangrove snapper shorts and eight yellowtail snapper shorts.
Tuesday, 3/24, frequent fishers, Ron Musick and Eddie Alfonso, fished twenty miles west of New Pass with me. Heading out, there were some big rollers, left over from the previous day's windy conditions, but seas calmed down nicely after a while. The guys used live shrimp to catch thirty-nine keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, and added a keeper porkfish and a few grunts to the fish box. They released red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Greg Greutman and his two sons, Sergei and Carl, fished 18 miles offshore with me on Wednesday morning, 3/25. Heavy fog was over the area until about 10AM. The boys used live shrimp to catch a 23-inch Spanish mackerel, a half dozen 13-inch porgies, and six grunts all about 12 inches. They released red grouper and porgy shorts, along with four out-of-season triggerfish.
Thursday morning, 3/26, long-time customer Pat Fitzgerald, his two sons, Jimmy and Tommy, along with Brent Thompson and son, Nick, and friend Brandon Linn, fished 20 miles west of New Pass with me, using live shrimp. The group did well with snapper, and caught thirty keeper lane snapper to 16 inches, along with a 13-inch, keeper mangrove snapper. They added to the box a few grunts and a 20-inch Spanish mackerel, and they released a 15-inch, out-of-season triggerfish.
With small craft advisories and seas of three-to-five feet on Friday, 3/27, ahead of a cool front, Rusty Hook and son, Jeremy, and Ryan Abbott and son, Reid, traded offshore plans for a morning of fishing in central Estero Bay, around the islands and as much out of the wind as possible. Using shrimp, the guys caught three redfish, one of which was an 18 ½-inch keeper, and fifteen mangrove snapper, one of which was a keeper. They also released a 17-inch snook and a big, 20-pound stingray.
I had an offshore trip planned for Saturday, but four-to-six feet seas offshore nixed that one.
The photo shown is of angler Buzz Norris, with a 31-inch king mackerel, 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.
31-inch king mackerel, 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.