SW FL-Bonita Beach: Lots of Action Offshore & Inshore
<p>Monday morning, 5/18, Mike and Casey Calvert fished a catch-and-release trip with me in Estero Bay's Mound Key area, using live shrimp for bait. The couple caught and released a good variety of fish, some of which were would-be keepers. The couple released a pair of 18-inch snook, a 16-inch black drum, two redfish at 17 inches and 22 inches, two sheepshead to 14 inches, two mangrove snapper to 12 inches, and a 12-inch mutton snapper. The mutton is kind of an unusual catch in the backwaters.
Ron and Betty Bergland fished offshore with me Tuesday morning, 5/19, about 20 miles west of New Pass. Ron caught a nice, keeper red grouper at 24 inches, which bit on a bait-fish. The rest of the couple's catches were on shrimp, and included fifteen red grouper shorts to just below the 20-inch legal size, thirteen yellowtail snapper, including one keeper at 13 inches, three keeper lane snapper, all about 12 inches, a half-dozen porgies, including one keeper, and fourteen grunts. The Berglands also released a 3 ˝-foot blacknose shark and a 9-foot nurse shark.
Wednesday morning, 5/20, John Fiorito and his son, Mike, fished Estero Bay's backwaters with me, in the area around New Pass. Using live shrimp, they caught four keeper mangrove snapper, all measuring about 11 inches, along with a 12 1/2-inch sheepshead. They released fifteen mangrove snapper shorts and two sheepshead shorts.
Thursday, 5/21, Mark Weikel and son, Zach, wanted to learn about fishing in Estero Bay, and chose a catch-and-release trip that covered a lot of territory. We fished in spots from Mound Key south to the Imperial River, using live shrimp. The guys released three redfish all about 17 inches, along with three sheepshead and a dozen would-be-keeper mangrove snapper at 11 to 12 inches. They also released a short mutton snapper, which is the second mutton I have seen in the backwaters this week—very unusual.
Saturday morning, 5/23, Bob Miller, son Jeff, and thirteen-year-old grandson, JJ, fished 22 miles offshore with me, using live shrimp. The guys caught two keeper red grouper at 22 inches and 24 inches, JJ having landed the larger one, which weighed nine pounds. The group added a 13-inch mangrove snapper to the fish box, along with five keeper porgies to 14 inches. They released about thirty red grouper shorts, along with a three-foot bonnethead shark.
I was off the water for about a week, given the typical end-of-May lull, plus some family plans that took up most of the Memorial Day weekend. I got back out fishing on Monday June 1st, when I fished the west wall of Estero Bay on an inshore catch-and-release trip with Keith and Chris Miller. The couple had no desire to keep fish, but enjoyed a relaxing morning on the water catching a good variety. They released a 14-inch flounder, two sheepshead to 14 inches, a 12-inch mutton snapper (yes, another one of those in the bay, which is odd), a 13-inch pompano, seven mangrove snapper to12 inches, and three sail-cats to 23 inches.
Scott Saveraid and friends usually book a few goliath grouper trips each year, for the thrill of reeling in the big ones. Scott was joined by Mike Wernsman, Terry Brandt, and Ran Woodsin this trip, which was on Tuesday morning, 6/2. The guys used blue runners to lure four goliaths to the surface, where they were photographed and released. The weight estimates on those were 50 pounds, 65 pounds, 180 pounds and 200 pounds, which made for lots of sore arms. The guys used live shrimp to catch and release two cobia, one 26 inches and one 30 inches.
Wednesday morning, 6/3, I headed 25 miles offshore with long-time customer, Bob Sawyer, joined by his friends, Bill Jameson, Bill Teutsch, and Keith Kies. The guys caught twenty-eight red grouper, including three keepers at 21 ˝ inches, 23 inches, and 26 inches. The keepers all bit on bait-fish, and the 25 shorts to 18 ˝ inches bit on live shrimp. Also on shrimp, the guys caught eighteen keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, and four 14-inch grunts.
Scott Saveraid, Mike Wernsman, Terry Brandt, and Ran Woodsin, who fished for catch-and-release goliaths with me on Tuesday, fished again with me Thursday morning, 6/4, this time going after table-fare. The guys caught three keeper red grouper, two of which bit bait-fish, and one that bit on shrimp. The group boxed a 20 ˝, 21 and 23-inch trio of red grouper, and released thirty shorts. Two big ones also broke the line and got away. Added to the fish box were a couple of keeper lane snappers and a 13-inch mangrove snapper. The guys released ten mangrove snapper shorts, four lane snapper shorts, a 36-inch bonnet-head shark, and a 38-inch sharp-nose shark, along with lots of blue runners.
The photo shown is of angler Keith Kies, with a 26-inch red grouper, caught on a bait-fish on a recent offshore trip.
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link.
26-inch red grouper on a bait-fish
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.