SWFL-Bonita Beach:Grouper, Mackerel, Shark, Permit & Pompano
“No oil—No spoil
Our Beaches are Clean—Our Waters Pristine”
Memorial Day Monday, I had planned to fish all day offshore with repeat customers, Mack Wilson and John French. But the winds followed the NOAA prediction and increased all morning, gusting to 20-25 knots by the time 1:00 rolled around. So we decided to take a rough ride back to shore then, having already caught plenty of fish while fishing 22 miles west of New Pass with live shrimp. Our catches included two keeper red grouper, 20 inches and 21 inches, two Spanish mackerel keepers at 22 inches and 24 inches, a half-dozen keeper lane snapper all around 13 inches, porkfish, porgies, and an 18-inch filefish (an interesting catch.) We released the filefish after photographing it, along with some mangrove snapper and yellowtail snapper shorts, a bunch of short red grouper and gag shorts to 19 inches, a short king mackerel, and two sharpnose sharks, 30 inches and 40 inches.
With family visiting for about a week, I was off the water for several days. The next time I fished was Thursday, 6/9/11, with Greg and Helen Bauer, their daughter, Tara Barns, her fiancé, Glen Scheider, and his daughter, Kaylee. Seas were pretty rough, with winds having picked up over the past couple of days, but we made it out about 17 miles to fish over rocky bottom, using live shrimp and bait-fish. We caught seven keeper whitebone porgies to 14 inches, a 13-inch keeper porkfish, two Spanish mackerel, 20 inches and 24 inches, eight grunts, and a 17-inch pompano. We also had fun fighting two goliath grouper, one about 80 pounds and one about 400 pounds. We got some video of those fights, and then released the goliaths, which were caught on blue runners and crevalle jacks. We also released ten mangrove snapper, all about 11-inches and too small to keep, along with gag and red grouper shorts.
Saturday morning, I headed offshore in calm seas to fish over rocky bottom, about 17 miles west of New Pass, with Craig Rodano and his young son, Dominic. We used shrimp to catch four hogfish, two of which were keeper-sized at 14 inches, along with a dozen keeper whitebone porgies to 13 inches, and a mess of grunts. We released gag grouper shorts, small mangrove snapper and sheepshead. We caught two Spanish mackerel and used them as bait to have some fun with goliath grouper. The first goliath we hooked was about 60 pounds, and the boys only thought that was a good work-out; the second one we hooked was most likely over 450 pounds, the biggest one I have seen to date. Dominic shot some video as Craig and I wrestled that one to the surface. After that, we took our tired arms and backs to shore!
Monday morning, 6/13, I fished Estero Bay with Mike Mercer and Chris Limeberry. We used live shrimp to catch a half dozen keeper mangrove snapper, all 11-12 inches, and a keeper redfish at 19 inches. We released a 17-inch redfish, two 20-inch snook, two small black drum, ladyfish, three smaller snapper, and small sheepshead and sea trout.
Wednesday morning, despite NOAA's predictions for two-to three foot seas out to 60 miles, I knew it would be sloppier than that, with the westerly winds blowing pretty hard. I fished with Doug Sapp and family, who wanted only to have fun catching and releasing fish, so we decided to head to the near-shore reefs, where we fished with live shrimp. We caught a half-dozen Spanish mackerel to 24 inches, fifteen crevalle jacks, eleven croakers, and some small mangrove snapper and red grouper.
Chris Morrow and family fished with me about 17 miles west of New Pass Thursday morning, as he has done each year for the past several years. We fished with live shrimp and caught a couple of keeper lane snapper, a mess of twenty good-sized grunts, eight keeper porgies, and a 23-inch Spanish mackerel. We released a three-foot sharpnose shark, a dozen undersized red grouper to 16 inches, and fifteen short mangrove snapper. The group experienced many cut lines, probably due to mackerel.
Friday morning, Jeramie Sollmann and his eleven-year-old son, Mitchell, fished with me on a catch-and-release trip at the near-shore reefs off Bonita Beach, using live shrimp. Jeramie caught a nice, 24-inch permit, and Mitchell released an 18-inch gag grouper. The pair also released lots of ladyfish, grunts and ten mangrove snapper, all around 13 inches.
The photo shown is of angler, Jeramie Sollmann with a, 24-inch permit, caught on shrimp on an offshore trip last week.
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