SW FL-Bonita Beach: Lots of Grouper & Snapper
<p>Monday, 7/11, Mike Kownacki fished the first of two trips he had with me this week. Mike was mostly interested in grouper, so we used live shrimp to catch some baitfish, then caught a couple keeper red grouper, on the baitfish--one 21-inches and one 23-inches. We released a dozen red grouper shorts, fishing 23 miles west of New Pass.
Mike fished with me again on Wednesday morning, 7/13. There weren't any keeper red grouper that day, though we released twenty red grouper shorts to 19 ½ inches. But the lane snapper were biting on shrimp, and Mike caught twenty-one keeper-sized lanes, boxed six of them for dinner, and released the rest. He also released a 13-inch grunt and a 20-inch Spanish mackerel, 20 miles west of New Pass.
Thursday morning, 7/14, I headed offshore 20 miles with Dustin Reaves and Bill Reed. The guys used squid to catch and release twenty red grouper shorts to 18 inches. The lane snapper were also biting well on squid, and Dustin and Bill caught twenty-five keeper sized lanes, of which they kept six. They also caught five grunts to 14 inches, and chose to keep four of those. As for excitement, they got to battle and released a 4-foot barracuda.
Friday, 7/15, seas weren't as calm as they had been all week, with a steady 15 knot wind 2o miles west of New Pass. I fished with Brian Kenedy, Sr, his son, Brian Kenedy, Jr., and Brian Jr.'s daughter, Shannon Kenedy. Using shrimp and squid, the family caught 20 red grouper in all, including one keeper at 21 inches, and they released shorts to 19 7/8 inches. They also caught five keeper lane snapper to 15 inches and a half-dozen grunts to 14 inches.
Tuesday morning, 7/19, I fished in Estero Bay's backwaters with long-time customer Peder Engebretson and his eleven-year-old grandson, John. The guys used shrimp and shiners to catch 25 mangrove snapper, 20 of which were keeper-size, though we released them on this catch-and-release trip. We also released three stingray, and had a line broken off once by something large. We released a couple of catfish too, a by-product of the plentiful rains and fresh water in the bay.
Wednesday, 7/20, Armando Rodriguez and his two sons-in-law, Ross and James, fished offshore with me in spots ranging from 20 to 27 miles west of New Pass, using live shrimp, squid, and baitfish. The guys caught three keeper red grouper, one at 21 inches and two at 22 inches each. They also caught 28 keeper lane snapper to 16 ½ inches and a half dozen grunts to 14 inches. They released lots of red grouper shorts and a few lane shorts.
Thursday morning, 7/21, I headed 22 miles offshore with Frank Fanta and his wife, Heidi. It was Heidi's first time fishing, and she caught the biggest lane snapper of the eight keeper lanes we boxed, using squid for bait. Hers was 17 inches. The couple added three grunts to the fish box. We probably would have gotten a red grouper or two, if not for being harassed by dolphins at one spot, and by a goliath grouper at another favorite grouper hole. We released two red grouper at 19 ½ inches before the predators began eating our catches!
Long-time customers, Paul Fenwick and son Spencer, joined by friends, John Priddy, daughter Jordan Priddy, and Jordan's boyfriend, Zak Foster, fished 22 miles west of New Pass with me on Friday morning, 7/22. Using squid, the group caught twenty red grouper, but all were short of the 20-inch mark, so we released those. We did get to box 26 keeper lane snapper though, which will make for plenty of dinner for the two families!
Saturday morning, 7/23, I fished a catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay with Kris Outman, his son, Jack Henry, and daughter, Emerson. The family used shrimp and shiners for bait, and released seven mangrove snapper, a sheepshead, five stingray to 3 pounds and, after a mighty battle, a ten-pound crevalle jack. A manatee swam up to the boat, and it was trailing bunch of fishing line with sea grass tangled in it, so we managed to get it all untangled, and it swam off happy and unencumbered. This is one reason that it is so important for anglers to dispose of their fishing line appropriately.
The photo shown is of angler Kris Outman with a 10-pouind crevalle jack, caught on a shiner, fought hard, and released in Estero Bay on an inshore trip 7/23/16
You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:
10-pound jack, bit a shiner, battled and released in Estero Bay
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.