I spent about a week off the water, as I only had a couple of fishing trips scheduled and they were both offshore trips that were made impossible by the winds and rough seas, which were relentless for days on end. I finally got back out fishing on Monday, 5/19 and, even then, winds were still blowing about 20 knots. But I fished inshore with long-time customer Jim Dean, who fishes with me annually on a two–day spread, one day designated for the backwaters and one for offshore. So, with hopes that Tuesday would be the calmer of his two days, we elected to fish in Estero Bay’s backwaters on Monday, 5/19, using live shrimp, thinking we might get some trout. We didn’t get trout, but we did get a surprise bite from a 40-inch bonnet-head shark, right on the edge of a sandbar, and Jim had a good time battling it to the surface before photographing and releasing it. We also released a big, 20-inch sail-cat, along with some stingray.
Tuesday morning, 5/20, wasn’t nearly as calm as we would have liked it to be offshore, but that didn’t stop Jim Dean from heading out 25 miles west of New Pass with me to fish for grouper and snapper. We caught five slot red grouper, but had to release the two smallest of those, due to legal limits. We boxed three at 26 inches, 24 inches, and 23 inches, and released two at 22 inches each. We also released a bunch of red grouper shorts. All the groupers bit on pinfish or grunts. We used live shrimp to catch fifteen keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, which we added to the box, so it was worth braving some choppy conditions.
Wednesday morning, 5/21, I fished in Estero Bay, near New Pass, with Tom Wolf and his young sons, Jordan and Patrick. Using live shrimp, the boys caught a keeper redfish at 22 inches and a 13-inch sheepshead. They released two stingray and broke off a big redfish on an oyster bar.
Thursday morning, 5/22, Bob Granger headed out on a near-shore trip with me to spots between 8 and 11 miles west of New Pass. Using live shrimp, Bob caught a 21-inch, keeper red grouper, a nice lane snapper at 13 inches, and three sharp-nose sharks at 39 inches, 38 inches and 30 inches. We released the sharks, along with lots of red grouper shorts to 19 ½ inches.
Friday, 5/23, I headed out 26 miles with father and son anglers Hans and Jeremiah Fox. We used pinfish for grouper fishing, and the guys caught four nice, keeper red grouper at 21 inches, 24 inches, 26 inches and 28 inches. Using live shrimp to lure some snapper worked well, with twenty keeper-sized lane snapper hooked. Of those, we kept a dozen to 16 inches, and released the rest. The guys also released lots of red grouper shorts, along with a 40-inch sharp-nose shark.
Steve and Kathy Boeckman and their friend, Colin, fished with me Saturday, 5/24. We started out fishing relatively close-in, but fishing was tough there so we ventured out further, about 25 miles from New Pass. The group caught a 23-inch, keeper red grouper, which bit a pinfish, and they released twenty red grouper shorts. They added to the box fifteen keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, a 13-inch keeper sheepshead, and a few grunts, all caught on shrimp. They released short triggerfish and mangrove snapper, along with a total of three 40-inch sharks—two sandbar shark and one sharp-nose shark.
Fishbuster Charters, Inc.
Bonita Beach, FL
Captain Dave Hanson
Marti Hanson, Manager