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Fishbuster Dave
1/24/09 04:05 PM
SW FL-Bonita Beach: Snapper, Sheepshead & Rough [Post#: 2758 ] Reply to this post

Monday, 1/12/09, I fished offshore in 43 feet with Ed & Margie Bock, who fish with me several times each winter. We departed in a dense morning fog, with visibility of about 200 feet (thank goodness for radar) and in very low tide conditions. We headed out of New Pass to 43 feet, where we used live shrimp to catch eight keeper mangrove snapper, all about 15 inches, and a 14 inch yellowtail snapper. We also kept six whitebone porgies that were all about 14 inches. We released smaller snapper, porgies, grunts, triggerfish and grouper shorts. We had one large grouper hooked, but not well enough—he got down in the rocks on bottom and came off.

Jerry Shaffran, wife Barb, and five and seven-year-old sons, Max and Jake, fished central Estero Bay with me on an overcast Tuesday morning that got progressively windier and chillier in advance of an approaching cold-front. The boys did very well catching sheepshead on shrimp, and we boated seven of those to 17 inches. We also caught two keeper mangrove snapper and a 16 inch trout. It was Max and Jake’s first introduction to fishing and I think they are now “hooked” for life!

The balance of the week consisted of nothing but cancelled trips. With two strong cold fronts kicking up winds and seas to not only unpleasant, but downright dangerous levels, offshore fishing was impossible. I had hoped to get Saturday’s party out in the bay but the high winds coming from the northeast literally sucked the water out of the bay. It was too shallow to even float the boat off the lift. So, I cancelled three trips and rescheduled one of them for Monday 1/19.

On Monday, 1/19, I thought I was going to have to cancel my rescheduled trip yet again, with three-to-five foot seas predicted near-shore and four-to-seven foot well offshore. But Dan Harper and Mott Wuttae are hardy anglers who decided they’d brave the conditions and see how far offshore we could get. We started out in three to fours but, in the big swells to come later, it was fives to sevens, in 45 feet out of New Pass. The snapper were biting our live shrimp, though, and we caught fourteen mangrove snapper to 19 inches, most of them in the 16 to 19 inch range. We also caught eight keeper lane snapper to 13 inches and three keeper sheepshead to 18 inches. We released grouper shorts and a small bluefish.

Tuesday’s forecast called for seas to 14 feet offshore, after yet another cold front moved through overnight Monday, with gale-force winds briefly and blustery winds to persist all day Tuesday. My scheduled anglers had their hearts set on fishing offshore, which was, of course, impossible, so they decided to cancel their trip, rather than fish the backwaters. It might have been tough even anchoring bayside in the winds we had Tuesday. Wednesday’s winds were predicted to be calmer but seas offshore remained treacherous and cold temperatures weren’t very appealing either. The temperature dropped even further on Thursday morning, which brought scattered frost to the area. So, even though seas had calmed to two-to-three feet by Thursday morning, the frost that was still on the boat by 9:30 that morning caused my anglers to re-think their fishing plans and cancel.

Friday, as a warming trend began, I fished in fairly calm seas with John Ballou in 43 feet out of New Pass, where we used live shrimp to catch six keeper lane snapper, three keeper mangrove snapper, a keeper hogfish and some whitebone porgies. We released a small bluefish, along with gag and red grouper shorts.

The photo shown is of angler John Reardon with a 19 inch mangrove snapper, caught on shrimp in 43 feet, on an offshore Fishbuster Charter the first week of January.

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