SW FL-Bonita Beach: 30-lb Permit, Cobia, Goliaths to 425 lbs!
After a few days off the water, with high winds and seas persisting into mid-week, I got back offshore on Friday morning, 5/20, with long-time customer Casey Miller. This time, Casey was in town for a wedding, and he invited the groom and friends to fish with us. The group, consisting of ( in addition to Casey) groom, Scott Smith and friends Jeff Jorth, Travis Blazer, Joel Clausen and Jeremy Vaught, had no interest in keeping fish, but they had a lot of interest in wrestling with some big fish, and that we did! We headed out about fourteen miles and fished in 45 feet, over some rocky bottom. We started out using live shrimp, and those got us three Spanish mackerel to 24 inches, five keeper-sized lane snapper to 14 inches, a 13-inch pompano, seven crevalle jacks, and two cobia, one 30 inches and the other 45 inches and about 20 pounds. We released the cobia and kept the Spanish, a few jacks and a couple of lanes to use for bait for much bigger things to come. The group got to wrestle with five goliath grouper, ranging in weight from 40 pounds to over 400 pounds. The biggest one of those completely straightened a 12/0 hook, and nearly pulled two of us out of the boat! We shot some pics and video and released all.
Saturday morning, I fished with Sean Flora, T.J. Taylor, age twelve, T.J’s grandpa, Jessie Hernandez, and Steve Mitchell. It was kind of a déjà vous with Friday’s trip because this group was also in town for a wedding and we fished in the same spots, fourteen miles west of New Pass. Once again, we hooked up with the goliaths, using crevalle jack, Spanish mackerel, and blue runners for bait, and we released five of those to 425 pounds. As if that wasn’t enough of a workout for the boys, they also caught a 40-inch, 30-pound permit and a 36-inch cobia, both of those on shrimp, the permit eating a free-lined shrimp that we had out for mackerel. We also released gag and red grouper shorts, Spanish mackerel, and small mangrove snapper.
Thursday, 5/26, I fished with Bob Granger, in central Estero Bay. Our plan was to catch redfish and anything but catfish. We started out at a small point, with the tide flowing into it, baited with live shrimp. We caught two nice 18-inch reds and two sheepshead to 14 inches. Moving on to the next spot, we hooked up with two more 18-inch reds, one small mangrove snapper, and the odd porcupine puffer, then a catfish--time to move on! Hitting one more spot on the way back in, we managed another 18-inch red, making the total redfish count five, along with a 14-inch trout.
Bob & Katie Sawyer, Katie’s mom, Ann, and Ann’s husband, Mike, fished central Estero Bay with me Friday morning. We caught two keeper sheepshead, each 13 ½ inches, a 13-inch sand bream, and a 24-inch black drum (which we released.) We released three redfish to 17 ½ inches, two crevalle jacks, and two 17-inch snook.
Saturday morning, I fished Estero Bay again, this time with long-time customers, Steve Spitzer and Jalissa Reever. Steve and Jalissa have fished offshore with me before, and decided to try the backwaters this trip. We caught a nice variety of fish on live shrimp, including a 16-inch keeper trout, a 19-inch keeper sheepshead, a keeper redfish at 18 inches, and an 11-inch keeper mangrove snapper. We released a 24-inch Spanish mackerel, several crevalle jacks, a stingray and a 3-foot long bonnet-shark.
The photo shown is of angler Casey Miller, with a 30-inch cobia, caught on shrimp and released, on a recent offshore trip.
I can so understand this Bob Granger. Just looking at catfish throws off any appetite I might have.
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