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 SW FL-Bonita Beach: 9 lb. Mang! Nice Grouper, Hogs & Sheeps & Trout

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Posts : 243
Join date : 2008-04-04

PostSubject: SW FL-Bonita Beach: 9 lb. Mang! Nice Grouper, Hogs & Sheeps & Trout   Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:11 pm

On Wednesday, 2/3, after watching the rain for the two preceding days, I finally got out fishing. Seas were still rough offshore so I fished Estero Bay’s backwaters with Bob Graham, daughter, Jenn Ness, her husband, Ryan Ness, and their adorable little boy, Graham Ness. Using shrimp, we caught two keeper sheepshead at 14 inches and 17 inches and a 17 inch keeper whiting. We released loads of ladyfish, which kept little graham amused—his 24-incher was almost as tall as he is! We also released lots of smaller sheepshead and mangrove snapper.

Thursday morning, I fished Estero Bay with John Hornell and his dad, Bud. We caught a 19-inch sheepshead, four keeper whitings and we released lots of ladyfish, small snapper and sheepshead. We used live shrimp for all.

Friday was rainy and windy, but the skies cleared Saturday, as the next front moved through, leaving a high pressure system in effect. Unfortunately, winds continued to be strong and offshore plans had to be traded for a morning of bay fishing. Brian Distefano and friends, Ron, Jim and Jim’s son, Nick, fished Estero Bay with me, using live shrimp. By mid-morning, the winds were roaring so we stayed as sheltered as possible and managed to catch five keeper sheepshead, all about 15 inches. We released lots of smaller ones.

As luck would have it, Monday was the one day this week I did not have anyone scheduled to go fishing and it was the calmest day predicted all week. None of my clients were able to change their schedules, so I had to let the relatively calm conditions go unappreciated. The forecast for the rest of the week was not at all encouraging, with seas up to nine feet predicted by mid-week to week's end.

The next time I got out on the water was Thursday morning, and that was in the backwaters on a catch-and-release trip with Mike Daley and son, Chris. It was chilly early on but warmed up nicely, and we delayed our start a bit to allow the sun to warm the air temperature. We used live shrimp to catch lots of sheepshead, the largest being 17 inches and 20 inches. We also released an 18-inch trout and some ladyfish.

Friday’s five-to-seven foot seas prohibited my offshore trip from going out. We might have fished the bay, but with cold winds and a 90% chance of rain, the group decided to bag the trip entirely. Saturday morning, four brave anglers headed into Estero Bay with in early morning temperatures of right around fifty degrees, with a cold, NW wind gusting 25-30 knots. Shannon and Rob Staples and their friends, Lisa and Bob O’Keefe fished in the most wind-sheltered spots I could find for them. Using live shrimp, the group caught five keeper sheepshead to 18 inches and released lots of smaller ones. Bob & Lisa also landed two nice trout at 19 inches and 17 inches.

Monday morning, 2/15, I had to look out the window and check the NOAA forecast twice to believe what I was seeing and hearing...CALM seas! I couldn't have asked for a better day to fish offshore with long-time customers, Jim Sistek, his son, Jim Sistek Jr., grandson, Ryan, Andy Unger and his son, Dave, and friend, Frank Burkosky. We got out to 75 feet of water, 37 miles west of New Pass, where we had a great day of fishing with live shrimp. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if grouper season wasn't closed because we released four nice ones, three gags at 22, 23 and 25 inches, along with a 21-inch red grouper. We also caught our limit of mangrove snapper, the largest one being 24 inches and nine pounds, which is among the largest I have seen around here (see photo). The next largest was 21 inches and all of them were respectable size, mostly 16 to 17 inches. We also caught two keeper hogfish, 14 inches each , keeper sheepshead to 17 inches, grunts,and several nice whitebone porgies to 17 inches.
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