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Blue Water Stories Thread, SW FL-Bonita Beach: Big game and tablefare in TribeNwater Fishing Stories; Long-time customers, Jim McGrath and Bill Crockett, fished 19 to 23 miles west of New Pass with me on Monday, ...
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Bonita Beach, FL, United States
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Snapper SW FL-Bonita Beach: Big game and tablefare

Long-time customers, Jim McGrath and Bill Crockett, fished 19 to 23 miles west of New Pass with me on Monday, 3/19. They used squid and cut-bait to box fourteen keeper lane snapper and three 12-inch grunts. They released seventeen smaller grunts and sixteen red grouper shorts.

I fished inshore for a few days before heading back into the Gulf.

Saturday’s seas, 3/24, were predicted to be two feet offshore but, after a week on high winds and seas, the gulf must have needed a little more time to calm down. It was choppy heading out to 19 miles west of New Pass on 3/24 with Lee Larsen and friends. The red grouper were biting, but none were keeper-size, so the group released a dozen of those, and they boxed some grunts to take home to eat. The dolphin invaded us a couple of times and, though fun to watch, they don’t help with the fishing!

Monday, 3/26, was supposed to be the calmest day offshore this week, but Walt Barney and family faced some three-to-four-foot seas with me when we headed out 20 miles from New Pass. We stayed out a little longer to allow for a little calming of the seas for our trip back in. Fishing was a little slow too, but the family boxed a dozen keeper lane snapper, five 12-inch porgies, and a dozen grunts, all caught on squid and cut-bait. Two of the larger fish hooked were pursued and eaten by either a shark or a goliath grouper before we could boat them.

Seas were slightly calmer than they had been for many days, but still far from calm, when I headed out 24 miles west of New Pass with three dads and three sons on Friday, 3/30. Long-time customer, Rusty Hook, was joined by his son, Jeremy, and two of his brothers-in-law, Ryan and Matt, with their sons, Russ and Emmett, respectively. Cut-bait and squid worked well to lure the lane snappers, and the guys boxed eighteen keepers. They added three grunts to the box, and they released a dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches.

Seas were just a little calmer on Saturday, 3/31, when I fished 19 to 22 miles offshore with Brett Wacker and family members, Jerry, Scott, Jack, Thomas, and Tripp. The guys used squid and cut-bait to box two dozen keeper lane snapper and grunts, and they released a dozen red grouper shorts, along with a 14-inch triggerfish.

Calm seas—what a treat and a novelty! Monday, 4/2, I headed offshore 22 miles west of New Pass with Bob Bockhorst and Don, Kevin and Kristen Leesman. The family used squid and cut-bait to land twenty nice keeper lane snapper to 15 inches, and a few 13-to-14-inch grunts. They released a 14-inch triggerfish and 27 red grouper shorts to 18 inches.

Seas were still calm on Tuesday, 4/3, when I headed out 35 miles with Paul Russell, Jeff Hoffman Sr., and Jeff’s sons, Jeff Hoffman Jr. and Dylan. Using squid, cut-bait and bait-fish, the guys did great with snapper, boxing fifteen lane snapper to 16 inches, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and two dozen vermillion snapper. They added to the box fifteen keeper porgies, and they released four short mangrove snapper, thirteen yellowtail shorts, five banded rudder fish that were all about 20 inches, and thirty-two red grouper shorts to 18 inches. They also battled a five-foot goliath grouper that they photographed and released boat-side.

Frequent customer, Mike Connealy, and his son, Brett, fished 15 and 19 miles offshore with me on Wednesday, 4/4/18. They wanted to tackle a goliath, so we headed to one of my goliath spots, hooked a blue runner to use as bait on a heavy rig, and reeled in a 90-pound goliath, which we photographed and released boat-side. After leaving that spot, we used squid to catch a 13-inch mangrove snapper and a trio of 14-inch grunts. Mike also caught an unusual snapper—an 11-inch schoolmaster snapper, which we also photographed and released (see photo below.)

Winds and seas increased on Thursday, 4/5, but it was still tolerable for Roy Mittman and his son, Zach. They used cut-bait and squid to catch four keeper lane snapper and15 grunts all about 12 inches. They released two mangrove snapper shorts and a half-dozen red grouper shorts.

On Friday, 4/6, seas were actually a little calmer than predicted, and I was able to get out 22 miles from New Pass with Ashton Lockhart and his young daughter, Barrett, along with David Clayton and his young daughter, Baylee, and another friend, Paul. The group used cut-bait and squid to box twenty-one keeper-sized lanes to 16 inches, along with a couple of grunts, out of the eight they caught. They released twelve red grouper shorts.

Winds picked up dramatically on Saturday, 4/7, so I fished inshore in southern Estero Bay. That report, along with other details of my inshore trips (and pic) can be viewed on the inshore forum.

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