Saturday morning, 3/23, I fished southern Estero Bay’s backwaters with Tom Weid and his son, John. The guys caught thirteen sheepshead on live shrimp, including eight keepers from 13 inches to 18 inches.
Seas were a little sloppy heading offshore Monday, 3/25, for a catch-and-release trip with Craig Javanovich, his two sons, and his dad. But it calmed down a little while into the morning fishing 19 miles west of New Pass. The family used squid to catch forty grunts, three red grouper shorts, five lane snapper shorts, and some blue runners.
Calm seas were a welcome change on Tuesday, morning, 3/26, when I headed out 18 miles west of New Pass with Frank Partee, his son, Mike, and Mike’s daughter, Katie. All the family wanted was some fish for a meal of fish tacos, and they achieved that with the seven grunts they boxed. They released lots of blue runners, along with a half dozen red grouper shorts. Everything bit on squid.
Denis Delor, his two sons, Mason and Jake, and his dad, Barry, had planned to fish offshore on Wednesday morning, 3/27, but small craft advisories were in effect offshore, due to seas of three-to-five feet. We fished southern Estero Bay’s backwaters instead, using live shrimp for bait. The family caught five keeper sheepshead to 17 inches, a keeper black drum at 15 inches, and two sand bream. They released a crevalle jack.
Thursday and Friday, 3/28 and 3/29 were both windy days with rough seas offshore that prompted a small craft advisory. Both of my planned offshore trips for those days canceled. On Saturday, 3/30, I fished southern Estero Bay’s backwaters with Roger Henderson, his son, Steve, and friend, Jack Brennen. The guys used live shrimp to catch eight sheepshead, including four keepers to 17 inches. Jack caught and released a 19-inch redfish, which would have been a keeper if not for the current redfish moratorium.
Monday, April 1st, I fished offshore with frequent customer, Mike Connealy and his son-in-law, Brett Ewig. We headed out 33 miles west of New Pass, with shrimp and squid. There were some goliath grouper and sharks harassing some of our would-be catches, but we did well in spite of them. The guys caught five keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches and released nine short mangs, along with a short yellowtail snapper. They added to the box two keeper lane snapper and ten nice keeper porgies to 23 inches. They released a dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches, and also had a three-foot kingfish on the line for a bit, but it cut the line right at the boat.
George Sloan wanted to take his son and young grandchildren offshore Tuesday morning, 4/2, to fish for whatever the kids could catch. George, his son Rob, and grandchildren Logan, Lara and Max, used squid 19 miles west of New Pass to catch and box four good-sized grunts to 14 inches, and they released lots of blue runners, a 14-inch triggerfish, a red grouper short, and some tomtates and squirrelfish.
A weather front arrived overnight Tuesday, and winds were howling Wednesday morning, 4/3. The bay wasn’t a very good option, since the front caused dead low tides there, so Mike Gambino and his three friends decided to try the gulf. NOAA had forecast seas of two to three feet, but it was way rougher than that, with steady 4-footers and occasionally worse than that. We ventured no further than the local reefs off Bonita Beach. Fishing was tough, but the guys managed to catch eight grunts on squid—enough for fish tacos—and they released lots of blue runners.
Dr. Meir Daller and his son, Brenden, fished 34 miles west of New Pass with me on Saturday, 4/6. Fishing was kind of slow, at least for keepers, but the guys caught and released plenty of red grouper shorts to 18 inches—twenty of those. They did catch a nice keeper mangrove snapper at 16 inches, and one keeper lane snapper that was nearly 13 inches, along with four 12-inch grunts, all on squid.
High winds and rough seas were again a problem the week of 4/8. I had to cancel several offshore trips. I fished inshore on Friday morning, 4/12, in southern Estero Bay with John Abernathy and his son, Ryan. The tide was slow, and the action wasn’t great. The guys caught and released three sheepshead to 12 inches, using live shrimp for bait.
Southern Estero Bay’s action was about the same on Saturday morning, 4/13, as it had been on Friday. Phil and Jill Binotti and Jill’s daughter, Kristen, used live shrimp to catch and release five sheepshead shorts to 11 inches, along with five juvenile mutton snappers. One big redfish was hooked, but was lost under the trees.
After high winds and seas for several consecutive days, I got back out offshore on Wednesday, 4/17, and fished 20 miles west of New Pass with Troy Reazin and his three sons. The guys used squid and cut-bait to catch fifteen grunts, ten of which they boxed for fish tacos. They released five red grouper shorts and lots of blue runners.
Thursday, 4/18, was windy again, and I fished inshore in southern Estero Bay with Ed Knapp and his thirteen-year-old grandson, Austin. They used live shrimp to catch five sheepshead, including a 13-inch keeper, and two 11-inch keeper mangrove snapper. They released two crevalle jack, about 12 inches each, a 17-inch redfish, and two 18-inch sail-cats.
Weather was a problem again on Friday morning, 4/19. Peyton Amato, his dad, and his two cousins had planned to fish offshore, but rough seas prevented that, so they decided to cut their planned full-day, gulf trip to a half-day, and fish in the bay instead. We managed to catch an incoming tide, and the guys used live shrimp to catch a few keepers, including two 16-inch black drum and a 12-inch mangrove snapper. They caught a half dozen sheepshead too, but all of those were just short of keeper size and were released. About an hour sooner than we’d planned to head in, the rains, which had been light and scattered grew heavy, and we headed back to safe harbor.
The photo shown is of Richard Arnett with a 24-inch porgy, caught on squid on a recent offshore trip.
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