SW FL-Bonita Beach: weather isn't helping, but we're catching fish anyway!

2018-01-18 11:24:52
Bonita Beach, Florida - Saltwater Fishing Report
Estero Bay flats and west of New Pass to 22 miles, gulf
Dave Hanson

As 2017 was drawing to a close, I had hoped that the good fishing weather we had over Christmas week would hold steady. But on Saturday, 12/30/17, when I fished with Rich Driscoll, Sr. and Rich Jr., joined by son Jack and his cousin, Sadie, sea conditions changed by about mid-day, and got progressively choppier, as the winds changed direction and picked up speed. We had made it out 22 miles from New Pass, and the group used squid and cut-bait to catch and release nearly forty red grouper shorts, along with a few puffer-fish. They had a couple of good battles with shark also, but never got them boat-side, since they broke the line before that could happen. The family boxed a few food-fish, including three keeper lane snapper, some grunts, and a porgy.

 Given the choppy conditions of the previous day, despite NOAA’s predictions for two-to three foot seas offshore, I advised Mark Smith, his two young sons, Harry and Charlie, and his father-in-law, Harry Stevenson, to fish inshore in southern Estero Bay on Sunday morning, 12/31. We fished an incoming tide, and the family had good action on live shrimp. They caught nine keeper black drum to 18 inches and a 16-inch sheepshead. They released a dozen shorter sheepshead, a sand bream, and a 20-inch snook.

Chris Pammer, his ten-year-old son, Jack, and his eleven-year-old brother, Jake, fished a chilly and windy mid-morning inshore trip with me in southern Estero Bay on Thursday, 1/4. We allowed the sun to warm things up a bit before we departed at 10AM, but it remained chilly, thanks to this strong cold-front that is visiting us for a few days. The boys had fun using shrimp to catch twenty sheepshead, including four nice keepers to 16 inches. They also released a 16-inch redfish, and a few small black drum.

Friday morning, 1/5, was another chilly, windy one. Isaac Wengerd treated his eight-year-old son, Henry, and four-year-old son, Gus, to a backwater fishing trip in southern Estero Bay. The boys bundled up, and had fun using live shrimp to catch seventeen sheepshead, including five keepers ranging in size from 13 to 16 inches. They also caught a 16-inch black drum, and they released a 16-inch snook and one mangrove snapper short.

 Seas were pretty rough throughout the weekend and first part of the next week. Thursday was finally calm, and long-time customer, Ron Musick, was ready for his first offshore trip of the season, joined by friends, Eddie Alfonso and Richard Arnett. The guys fished in various spots from 18 to 22 miles west of New Pass, using squid and cut-bait. They boxed twenty-five grunts to 14 inches, along with five keeper lane snapper and four porgies. They released a dozen red grouper shorts.

 Friday, 1/12, was a windy day, just ahead of another strong cold front headed to our area. With four-foot seas offshore, John Thomas, Matt Smith, Craig Sims and Steve McKey traded in their offshore plans for a morning of fishing in the backwaters of southern Estero Bay, where they used live shrimp to catch a conglomerate of over fifty fish. The guys were in town for a conference, and had no need for keeping fish, so they released all, including about forty sheepshead to 15 inches, nine black drum to 16 inches, and several crevalle jacks.

 The first photo shown below is of John Thomas with a 16-inch black drum, caught on shrimp in Estero Bay.

It was tough fishing in Estero Bay on Monday, 1/15, with the cold front having sucked the water out of the backwaters, and extreme low tides, even at their highest point. Jack Oberlin and friend, Perry, were not interested in keeping fish, since they were on a short stay at an area hotel, so, we’d planned on a catch-and-release trip. The guys used live shrimp to catch and release fifteen sheepshead to 14 inches, and that was the only species biting, so they didn’t get much variety, but at least got some action!

 Another cold front arrived on the heels of the previous one, with high winds and seas accompanying it, as well as some pretty frigid temperatures for SW FL!  Looks like conditions will normalize for the weekend, so I’m looking forward to a planned offshore trip for Saturday.

 The second photo shown is of Mark Venturin with a nearly 20-inch red grouper, caught on squid and released on a recent offshore trip.

You can view our fishing action videos at http://fishbustercharters.com/fishing videos.html

Fish Species: shark, grouper, snapper, grunts, black drum, sheepshead, redfish
Bait Used: live shrimp, squid, cut-bait & bait-fish
Tackle Used: spinning
Method Used: flats fishing and bottom fishing
Water Depth: 1-3 ft. bayside; to 50 ft, gulf
Water Temperature: 60-68
Wind Direction: variable
Wind Speed: variable
16-inch drum, Estero Bay, Bonita Beach, SWFL
16-inch drum, Estero Bay, Bonita Beach, SWFL

near-20-inch red grouper released, Bonita beach, SWFL
near-20-inch red grouper released, Bonita beach, SWFL

Dave Hanson

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.

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