SW FL-Bonita Beach: Shark, grouper, lots of rough seas
<p>Monday, 1/19/15, predictions for 15-knot winds and seas of two to three feet were just wrong! The wind blew 20 to 25 knots and seas were four-feet-plus at times, 18 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with David Bloomfield, David Price, and David Price, Jr. the guys used live shrimp to catch fifteen porgies to 15 inches, boxed six of those for dinner, and released the rest. They also boxed a keeper mangrove snapper at 15 inches, and a few grunts. They released a dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches, along with some lane shorts, and also released an 8 ½-foot sandbar shark that bit on a porgy being reeled in.
Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonso, and Dick Arnett, who usually fish with me weekly during winter season, fished offshore, 18 miles west of New Pass, on a cloudy, dreary-looking Tuesday, 1/20/15. The rain was predicted to hold off until later in the afternoon, but it began raining offshore about 1:30PM, so we headed in then. The guys used live shrimp to catch a keeper red grouper at 20 ½ inches, and they released lots of red grouper shorts and mangrove snapper shorts. They boxed five porgies to 15 inches, and they had two fun battles with sharks: One was with a 7-foot tiger shark, and another with an 8-foot sandbar shark, both of which bit on blue-runners.
Skies were clear, seas were calm, and the air temperature was pleasant Wednesday morning, 1/21, when I fished 18-to-20 miles offshore with Leo Walsh and friends, Jim, Jack & Dave. The fish weren't as active as they had been in the preceding days, though. The guys boxed a dozen grunts, a few porgies to 14 inches, and a few keeper lane snapper. The rest of the action was on lots of undersized red grouper to 18 inches, which we released.
Thursday morning, 1/22, Long-time customers Clement and Evelyn Wong, along with their son, Daniel, and his girlfriend, Tiffany, fished 20 miles west of New pass with me. The group used live shrimp to catch and release twenty red grouper shorts, all the way up to within a half inch of keeper size, along with a few gag grouper shorts. They boxed fifteen keeper lane snapper and three porgies to 14 inches.
Rex Crandall and friends tried to get offshore fishing with me on Friday morning, 1/23. The guys had wanted a full day, but I told them we'd get as much time as we could before the approaching weather-front kicked up winds and seas. NOAA had forecast winds of 10-15 knots, and seas of two-to-three feet out to 60 miles—NOT! Just out of the pass, we encountered boat soaking waves of nearly 4 feet. We had a choice to deal with, at best, sloppy seas close-in and try for some action at the near-shore reefs for the morning, or to scrap the trip entirely. The guys decided on the latter, and they rescheduled for a date in February.
Saturday, 1/24, brought rain and gusty winds. I canceled my planned fishing trip and remained in port. We had more of the same, plus some rain squalls on Monday, 1/26, which canceled out that day's trip also. Tuesday, 1/27, I had a bay trip scheduled, and winds had calmed significantly, with warming temperatures, but my clients decided they would rather defer their trip, given all the nasty weather days that had just preceded.
Wednesday morning, Tom Bacheller and friends had hoped to get offshore with me, but small craft advisories remained in place, with seas of 4-6 feet, and winds picking up once again, as a reinforcing cold front hit the area. The guys fished inshore instead, in lower Hickory Bay on an outgoing tide that was pretty low. Conditions were not optimal. The guys released a couple of stingray, four sail-cats, one keeper-sized sheepshead and five croakers.
Thursday, 1/29, remained windy, though seas were predicted to calm to two to three feet. I didn't really believe that prediction and, as it turned out, my scheduled angler had to cancel his trip that day anyway, due to illness.
By Friday, 1/30, winds really had calmed down and seas were about two feet—what a treat! I headed offshore with Dave and Judy Eckrich and friends, Frank and Ruthie Tarnawski. The group had a productive morning fishing with live shrimp 22 miles west of New Pass. They caught three keeper red grouper, a 21-inch, a 22-inch and a 23-inch. They also boxed four nice keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches, along with ten keeper lane snapper and nine porgies about 15 inches. They released nearly thirty short red grouper, a dozen smaller porgies, and nine lane snapper shorts.
Saturday morning, 1/31/15, winds were stronger once again, but I had an inshore trip scheduled, so there were no rough seas to worry about. Corey Elzner, his girlfriend, Lindsey Young, Lindsey's son, Ivan, and Ivan's grandpa, Bobby Woodard, fished a catch-and-release trip in lower Hickory Bay with me, using live shrimp. The group released six sheepshead to 15 inches, a 12-inch mangrove snapper, and a redfish short.
The photo shown is of angler Hib Doe, with an 18-inch hogfish, 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.
18-inch hogfish, 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.