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12/7/08 07:26 PM
SW FL-Bonita Beach: True Black Grouper & Good Fish [Post#: 2740 ] Reply to this post

A weather-front came through on Monday, 12/1, brought some rain, and left us with high winds and very rough seas. So Tuesday, Erwin and Millie Matusiak traded their offshore fishing plans for some backwater fishing in Estero Bay. We fished the shoreline with live shrimp and, while trying to stay sheltered from the cold north wind, we managed to catch seven keeper mangrove snapper and five nice sheepshead, the largest of which was 18 ½ inches. We also released a 16 inch redfish and a 20 inch snook.

Wednesday morning, I fished a catch-and-release trip, along the edges of Estero Bay with David Hellberg and son, Matt. We had steady action all morning and released twenty-five sheepshead to 15 inches and twenty-five mangrove snapper, ten of which were keeper-size. We also released two 20 inch snook.

Rick Szymanski and Al Ortenzo fished offshore with me Thursday in calm waters (finally!) west of New Pass in 46 feet. We limited out on big mangrove snapper, catching twenty of those to 18 ¼ inches. We released gag and red grouper just short of legal size and some triggerfish. These bigger snapper are great fun to catch and great eating too.

Friday morning brought calm seas of less than one foot so, once anglers George Flanders and Mark Lyda heard about the good snapper-bite offshore, they changed their original plans to fish the backwaters and headed out about twenty miles with me. We fished in 47 feet with live shrimp and caught seventeen mangrove snapper to 17 inches, one keeper mutton snapper at 16 ½ inches, five keeper lane snapper measuring 11 and 12 inches, and a few whitebone porgies. We released lots of gag and red grouper shorts.

Leon Dargis and Bob Rose picked a great morning to fish offshore—it was smooth as glass Saturday morning in 47 feet, about 22 miles west of New Pass. We fished with live shrimp and caught our federal limit of twenty nice mangrove snapper (ten per angler), all between 14 and 18 inches. We released about thirty additional mangs. The big prize of the day was a keeper 23 inch true black grouper that weighed eight pounds. True blacks are a lot more unusual to catch around here than gag grouper are.

We had one gag grouper on the line too but, as we reeled it up, an eight-foot bull-shark bit it, leaving us with 18 inches of mangled gag grouper—I think it was a decent sized gag until the shark helped himself to more than his share. We also caught four keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, whitebone porgies to 14 inches, and released triggerfish and four mutton snapper up to 15 7/8 inches (just 1/8 inch short of keeper-size.) It was an excellent morning for offshore fishing.

The photo shown below is of angler Scott Kempfert with an 18 inch sheepshead, caught on a live shrimp on a recent inshore Fishbuster Charter.

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