Fishbuster Charters’ Captain Dave Hanson reported, “Monday morning, 4/20, I had planned an offshore trip with the family and friends of Tom Rylander, but an unsettled weather pattern with rain over the gulf and increasing winds and seas required that we change plans and fish inshore in Estero Bay’s backwaters. The group fished the bay down toward Wiggins Pass, using live shrimp. They caught a couple keeper mangrove snapper, and released some smaller ones, along with six stingray to 8 pounds.
Angler Robin Latham with a 15-inch lane snapper, tone of many keeper lanes caught on shrimp 22 miles west of New Pass on a recent offshore Fishbuster Charter. © Captain Dave Hanson
Tuesday, 4/21, the gulf was blanketed by rain and, although seas might have been calm enough to head offshore, my party wasn’t too thrilled about the possibility of staying wet all day. They decided to cancel the trip and stay dry.
Wednesday morning, 4/22, there were still a few residual rain showers to dodge, but nothing as widespread or heavy as we’d seen the previous day. prepared with rain slickers on board, I headed out 18 miles to fish with long-time customer Tom Batcheller and his friends, Gary and Steve. The guys used live shrimp to catch as many as forty lane snapper, fifteen of which were keepers to 14 inches. They released lots of blue runners, a Spanish mackerel, and a dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Larry Leach and Wayne Bauman scheduled two days of offshore fishing with me on Thursday, 4/23 and Friday, 4/24. Thursday, we headed out to about 28 miles west of New Pass, where the guys fished with live shrimp. They boxed fifteen nice-sized mangrove snapper to 16 inches, along with three yellowtail snapper, all 14 to15 inches. They chose to release a brace of 32-inch king mackerel, along with twenty must-release-red-grouper-shorts, a few of which were just 1/8 inch short of keeper size. The guys hooked two nice red grouper that probably would have been about 26 inch keepers, based upon the ten pound heads that were reeled up, after a big shark decided to make have dinner on us!
Larry and Wayne, returned to fish again on Friday, and we had hoped to get back out to catch that demon shark who ate our big groupers the day before—or at least catch some big grouper! But we didn’t have the calm sea conditions we’d had on Thursday. The winds had picked up considerably, and seas were pretty rough, even relatively close to shore. So we decided to do some goliath-grouper sport fishing at one of my spots just 14 miles offshore. We caught a bunch of blue runners, which we used for goliath bait, and we photographed and released two goliaths, estimated at 150 pounds and 320 pounds. Goliaths must be released while still submerged in the water, so the guys couldn’t pose with their catches, but they got a few good pics of the fish. Those goliath battles were enough to give the guys some sore arms and, after that excitement and also catching a 14-inch pompano, they decided to head in a bit early to relax before catching their flight back to Michigan.
Saturday, 4/25, was windy again and, although NOAA’s prediction remained for two-foot seas, I knew it would be rougher than that. I headed out 19 miles from New Pass with Peter Halunen and his son, Clinton, where we fished with live shrimp in mostly three-foot seas. The guys caught three nice porgies, all 14 inches, and a half dozen 13-inch grunts, along with two keeper porkfish and a keeper lane snapper. We would have managed a few more lanes if the dolphin hadn’t showed up on our spot to feast! We also released six red grouper shorts to 17 inches. On the way back in, we encountered mating sea-turtles, which we stopped to video.”