SW FL-Bonita Beach: Summertime Shark Action, Grouper & Snapper

2017-05-11 14:49:51
Bonita Beach, Florida - Saltwater Fishing Report

Monday morning, 4/24/17, winds were howling, as they had been for several days and, with small craft advisories offshore, the Stevens family, Mike & Michelle and young sons, Ryan and Jonah, traded offshore plans for a backwater trip in southern Estero Bay. The family used live shrimp to catch six sheepshead to 18 inches, along with a spadefish, two puffer fish (a southern spiny puffer and an oyster-cruncher puffer), and a 3-pound stingray.

Wednesday, 4/26, seas were choppier than predicted heading out of New Pass, but they did calm down later in the morning. Bruce Debuke treated his son and three grandsons to an excursion 17 miles offshore, where the family used cut-bait and squid to box two dozen keeper lane snapper and a few grunts. They released eleven red grouper shorts to 18 inches, and experienced two sharpnose shark battles before releasing one 35-inch and one 40-inch.

Friday, 4/28, though NOAA had predicted two-foot seas out to 60 miles, seas were much rougher than that at spots 22 and 24 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with Roland Roth and his friend, Doug. The lane snappers bit well on squid until the dolphin showed up, so we boxed a dozen lanes and moved on. The guys added a few 13-inch grunts to the box, and released five red grouper shorts, before calling it a morning.

After rough seas and gusty winds over the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday, I finally got to take an offshore trip on Wednesday, 5/3, and seas were pretty calm even 26 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with Mark Vale and his friend, Dave. The guys limited out on keeper lane snapper to 16 inches, keeping forty of the largest and releasing lots more. They also released twenty-five red grouper shorts to 19 inches, along with a four-foot barracuda, caught on the big pole, and a 40-inch sharpnose shark, caught on a light spinning rod. Everything bit on squid and cut-bait.

Randy and Beth Bartz and their friend, Rick Barstow, had planned to fish offshore with me a week ago, but they had to reschedule for Monday, 5/8, since the previous Monday's winds and seas were prohibitive. We were able to head out 29 miles from New Pass, and used cut-bait and squid for bait. The group caught a keeper red grouper at 21 inches and released thirty-five red grouper shorts to 18 inches. They added to the fish box thirty lane snapper keepers to 15 inches, a 15-inch mangrove snapper, and three grunts. They also released a 35-inch blacknose shark, and battled a big hammerhead that bit on light tackle until he broke off.

Seas were calm on Tuesday, 5/9, when I headed out 25 miles from New Pass with long-time customer, Dick Wilson, and our mutual friend, Captain John Vest. We used pinfish, squid, shrimp and cut-bait for a nice mess of fish that included a keeper 21-inch red grouper, twenty keeper lane snapper, two yellowtail snapper keepers, and a few nice sized grunts that were about 14 inches. We released lots of red grouper shorts to 19 inches, thirteen yellowtail shorts, and three sharpnose sharks that were all around three foot long.

You can check out all of our shark and goliath grouper action videos at the following link:


The photo shown below is of Nate Binder, with a 24-inch redfish, caught on shrimp on a recent inshore trip.

The photo shown below is of Turner Holthaus, with a 21-inch red grouper, caught on squid on a recent offshore trip.

Fish Species: shark, grouper, snapper, grunts, redfish, sheepshead, black drum, whiting
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 60 ft, gulf
Water Temperature: 75-85
Wind Direction: variable
Wind Speed: variable
24-inch redfish, on shrimp
24-inch redfish, on shrimp

21-inch red grouper, on squid
21-inch red grouper, on squid

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.

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Dave Hanson