Tuesday morning, 2/16, after a gorgeous day offshore on Monday, seas were back to their usual for this winter—rough, with small craft advisories issued. Brad Urlaub and family traded their offshore fishing plans for a morning of bay fishing. We used live shrimp to catch lots of sheepshead, including three keepers measuring 13 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches. We also caught a 15-inch whiting and a 12-inch mangrove snapper. We released lots of ladyfish, along with the smaller sheepshead.
Wednesday morning found me back in the bay, as there were again small-craft advisories offshore. I fished with Frank Partee, son Mike and daughter-in-law, Ginger. We caught five keeper sheepshead to 17 inches and released some smaller sheepshead and some ladyfish.
Thursday was a chilly morning, when I fished with Mike Daley and daughter, Elizabeth Hayes, in Estero Bay. We used live shrimp to catch nine keeper whitings to 16 inches.
Friday, seas began a calming trend, so I headed offshore for a day of fishing with Bill Conklin, his son Eric, and friends Mike Grandominico and Dennis Baker. We fished in 73 feet, 37 miles west of New Pass, and did well. We released four keeper grouper (due to closed season), three gags to 26 inches and a 21-inch red grouper. We also caught two keeper hogfish at 14 inches and 16 inches, nine mangrove snapper to 18 ˝ inches, and some nice whitebone porgies to 18 inches, all on live shrimp.
Bill Conklin and friends, who fished with me Friday, had originally planned to fish one day gulf-side and one day bay-side but, after seeing the low water in the bay and the calm seas offshore, they decided to take advantage of the good offshore conditions and head out again on Saturday. We fished 22 miles west of New Pass with live shrimp. We did very well with snapper and hogfish again, as well as sheepshead. The group caught six hogfish, five of which were keepers raging in size from 14 inches to 16 inches. They also caught a dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 18 inches, three whitebone porgies to 15 inches, grunts, and three keeper sheepshead, the largest of which was a whopping 24 inches and 8 pounds. We released two 24-inch gag grouper, due to closed grouper season, along with smaller sheepshead.
Monday, 2/22, we awoke to rain. It was light on shore but there was rain out to 40 miles offshore and my party of six felt like conditions were too unstable to get out there so they postponed their trip. Unfortunately, Tuesday's trip had to cancel due to a family-medical issue.
Wednesday morning, I headed offshore ahead of the next weather front, while seas were still calm. But morning fog was thick with about 1/8 mile visibility most of the morning. Mike Connealy and daughter, Mandi, fished with me in 43 feet, about 20 miles west of New Pass. Using live shrimp, we caught nine mangrove snapper to 18 inches. We released two grouper, due to closed season: a 20-inch red grouper and a 24-inch gag. We also released lots of shorts, including triggerfish, snapper, grouper, porkfish and grunts.
Thursday morning was another chilly, windy one. I fished the backwaters with Eduardo Heriques and his two sons, Eduardo Jr. and Richie. We used live shrimp to catch five keeper sheepshead to 18 inches and an 18 ˝ inch trout.
Friday, seas were predicted at two-to-four feet and I hoped to get offshore but, with morning wind-chills in the thirties, by customers wanted no part of being on the water. My Saturday anglers called to say they were unable to get out of the airport in N.Y., with a massive snowstorm up that way. This is shaping up to be a winter of record, to say the least.
Ed and Marge Bock fished Estero Bay with me Monday morning, March 1st. Though predictions were for 2-3 foot seas out to twenty miles, after the rough conditions of the previous several days, I expected sloppy seas and a swell, so I advised the Bocks to fish bayside instead. Using live shrimp, we caught a 16-inch trout and two keeper sheepshead to 16 inches. We released lots of smaller sheepshead.
Tuesday, we awoke to gusty winds and thunderstorms. I had to reschedule the trip I had planned in the bay.