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Fishbuster Dave
2/21/09 06:23 PM
SW FL-Bonita Beach: Snapper, Sheepshead, Hogfish & [Post#: 2770 ] Reply to this post

With a small craft caution in effect Monday, I didn’t venture too far from shore with Ron Baldwin and friends. Seas were three feet even close-in at the three-mile reef and winds were twenty knots. We caught five keeper mangrove snapper and five keeper sheepshead and a few grunts.

Tuesday brought persistent winds, but their easterly direction made seas a little calmer than they were the day before, at least near-shore. I fished at the Wiggins Reef with Tom Batchelor, Lee Larsen, Bud Glazer and Steve Sidlik. We used live shrimp to bag eight sheepshead to 16 inches and a dozen keeper mangrove snapper. We released grouper, snapper and triggerfish shorts.

Andy Ungar, son Dave, and family friend, Tony Pastore fished with me Wednesday on a slow tide with no observable movement whatsoever. Those conditions made for a slow bite and we headed out farther to get into some fish, finally finding some about 29 miles out of New Pass. There, using live shrimp, we caught and released hundreds of red grouper shorts, some gag grouper, bluefish and amberjacks. We kept six lane snapper and a mangrove snapper, a 16 inch sheepshead and some good-sized grunts.

Thursday, I had planned to fish well offshore on a customer’s boat, but the timing on the weather-front predicted was unclear, and seas of three to five feet were predicted as the result of a windy front. I was afraid to risk running way out in the morning just to have seas get to rough to tolerate a little while later. So I made a judgment call to nix that trip. I ended up fishing in the backwaters of Estero Bay that morning with Jim Warner and son, Michael. We caught five sheepshead to 17 inches, a keeper flounder and a keeper mangrove snapper, all on shrimp.

Mike and Lea Conneally and friend, Bob Walz, fished on a windy Friday morning with me in Estero Bay, where we could avoid the rough seas predicted offshore for that day. We used live shrimp to catch four nice sheepshead to 17 inches and we released smaller sheepshead, along with a 20 inch snook, a 22 inch snook and a 17 ¾ inch redfish.

Saturday morning, seas were predicted to be two to three feet, but I encountered four footers all the way out to 19 miles from New Pass, where I fished with Pete Gonzales, his son, Tony, and friend, Norman Ayer. There was a stuff 20 knot wind early on, but things started to calm down later in the morning. We caught seven nice mangrove snapper to 18 inches, a 14 inch hogfish, four porkfish and a few grunts. We released triggerfish and dozens of red and gag grouper to 21 inches.

The photo shown is of angler, Dick Arnett, with a 17 inch porgie, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip. With more restrictive grouper regulations in place, many anglers have acquired a new respect for porgies—their meat makes for excellent table-fare.

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