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Fishbuster Dave
9/27/08 10:06 PM
SW FL-Bonita Beach: Offshore fishing excellent thi [Post#: 2708 ] Reply to this post

We no sooner got rid of Tropical Storm Fay’s effects when Hurricane Gustav threatened the Gulf coast. We were again fortunate, much more so than the folks in New Orleans were…although, they too are counting their blessings after a small, last minute change in course saved them from the worst case scenario. But our offshore waters felt the effects even here in SW FL, with lots of wind, some rain, heavy surf and high seas. Fishing was not an option for another week or so, into the Labor Day weekend. Monday, skies cleared, but seas remained rough, even into Tuesday, 9/2, so I fished the backwaters Tuesday with Bill & Terry Major, their daughter and son-in-law. Fishing was fair in the bay but with so much fresh water, probably not as good as it would usually be this time of year. We released a 22 inch snook and sheepshead, all caught on live shrimp. Even live shrimp were in short supply, due to the shrimp boats being unable to get out in rough seas. But we had a good time catching and releasing.

And, a few more words to say about local fishing recently: "Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, and slow-season! Although we were very fortunate to have few serious effects of the storms, they did disrupt fishing with their fringe effects that included gusty winds, high seas, rain and fresh water influx. Add to that mix the slowest of all seasons in SW Florida and the result doesn't add up to a lot of time on the water.

On the bright side, with October’s page nearly ready to be showing on the calendar, many of our seasonal residents have been calling to arrange fishing trips. This week, I finally have a few trips to report. After waiting for the winds and seas to clam down from a breezy start to the week, I fished Thursday, 9/25, with Roger & Donna Briehqcek. It was still pretty rough way offshore, but we managed to fish in about 40 feet out of New Pass, where it was a bit sloppy but tolerable. We caught five keeper mangrove snapper, a keeper lane snapper and a 23 inch Spanish mackerel there, and we released lots of gag and red grouper shorts, along with a small mutton snapper. We moved to a spot closer to the beach later in the morning, where we caught and released three oversized redfish, two measuring 28 inches and one 30 inches ( see photo.) We used live shrimp for all.

The fishing was good again on Friday, when I fished with Jeffrey Frost and Brad Bernardy in selected spots from 5 to 18 miles west of New Pass. We caught a nice variety on live shrimp, including two redfish, one over-sized at 28 inches, which we released, and one keeper at 26 ¾ inches, nine Spanish mackerel to 26 inches, whitebone porgies, six keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, three keeper mangrove snapper and a keeper mutton snapper at 16 ½ inches. We released a four-foot sandbar shark, a ten-pound bonito, four undersized mutton snapper, some short yellowtail snapper and gag grouper shorts to 19 inches.

Seas were a little rougher Saturday, but Bill Newhard and Dave Kovach toughed it out for some excellent fishing. We headed out to about 36 miles west of New Pass with live shrimp and Spanish sardines. Dave caught a keeper 21 ½ inch red grouper and we released several more red grouper that were just short of keeper size. We also caught a 16 ½ inch keeper scamp grouper, eight keeper yellowtail snapper to 15 inches, a couple dozen keeper lane snapper, a half dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, triggerfish and a mess of grunts. We released three sharpnose sharks, all about 3 ½ feet long, along with lots of smaller mangs, yellowtail and grouper. We also saw three schools of peanut-dolphin (also called chicken-dolphin and mahi-mahi). Those were about 18 inches long and they surrounded the boat. We’d have loved to locate their daddies, but with no light due to cloud cover, we were unable to spot any larger ones. All in all, it was a great day of fishing.

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