“No oil—No spoil Our Beaches are Clean—Our Waters Pristine”
Mike Mercer and friend, Bill, were hoping to hook some big fish when they fished offshore with me Tuesday morning, 6/15. They got lucky: Between them, they caught and carefully released eight goliath grouper, ranging in size from 30 inches to 56 inches, fishing over rock piles with Spanish mackerel and blue runners as bait. Bill also hooked a big kingfish, on shrimp, but the fish ran out about 150 yards, got a loop in the line, swam back toward the boat and pulled off. We also released a 4 foot sand-shark, along with short triggerfish and yellowtail snapper. The guys also went home with some good eatin’ fish, including six keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches and a mess of whitebone porgies.
Rick Lang and his three young sons, Tim, Chris and Ben, fished in 38 to 45 feet with me Wednesday morning. The boys had fun catching and releasing four goliath grouper to approximately 100 pounds: the smaller the angler, the more impressive the enormity of those fish! Dolphins showed up at my favorite snapper hole, so we moved from there and went to another spot where we caught nine keeper Spanish mackerel to 23 inches, grunts and whitebone porgies. We released short triggerfish, three 19-inch gag grouper shorts, and small red grouper and snapper. The boys were cut off a few times, probably by king mackerel but, after the goliaths weakened their arms, they weren't too sad about that!
Saturday, with calm seas offshore, I headed out of New Pass, with a bait-well full of live shrimp, to 70 feet with James Seay, his girlfriend, Sunny Green, and friends Les Heller and Jordan Dykftra. The group was most interested in grouper and they caught three keeper red grouper, one 21 inches and a pair of 22-inchers. They also caught keeper yellowtail and mangrove snapper to 14 inches, and a mess of nice-sized whitebone porgies. They released short red grouper and snapper.
Chris Morrow, Dave Bayer, Dave’s son, Alex Bayer, age eleven, Bob Schneider, Bob’s son, Zack Scneider, age eight, and Buck Bachara, the boys’ grandfather, all fished Monday morning, 6/21, with me in 35 feet of water, west of New Pass. It was the official first day of summer and it surely felt like it, with temps approaching 90 early in the day. Fishing was pretty hot too, and we caught a variety of species. We got one kingfish, 28 inches long, and were broken off by a larger one. We also caught eight keeper Spanish mackerel, two hogfish, one of which was a keeper at 15 inches, ten keeper porgies, and a mess of grunts. We released small mangrove snapper and red grouper shorts, along with two goliath grouper at 30 pounds and 60 pounds. There were three cobia swimming around the boat at one point, and we did hook one of those, but one of the goliath grouper got to it before we could reel it in.
Gregg Runge and son, Jay, fished with me Tuesday, about 37 miles west of New Pass and at a few ledges on the way in, using live shrimp. Winds had picked up and there was a good sized swell offshore. We also ran through a big rainstorm on the way in, so it took a while longer to get to our fish-cleaning. The guys caught three very large whitebone porgies, at twenty inches plus, along with keeper mangrove snapper. We released red grouper to 19 1/2 inches, just short of keeper-size, as well as undersized triggerfish, small snapper and grunts. Jay also caught and released a 45-inch sandbar shark.
Wednesday morning, Jason Dempsey fished Estero Bay with me, using live shrimp. We caught a half dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 12 inches and released a bunch of shorter ones. We also caught two keeper sheepshead, 13 and 14 inches, and two keeper redfish, 19 inches and 21 inches.
Chris and Jan Heapy fished Estero Bay’s islands with me Friday morning, 6/25. Using shrimp, Jan landed a 16-inch trout. The couple also caught five keeper mangrove snapper and released lots of smaller snapper.
The Mike Bochman family reserved a few days of fishing in June with me many months ago. Saturday morning, we took off for the first of those and headed offshore, where we fished in 33-to-45 feet. The calm winds we had the beginning of this week had picked up quite a bit and were out of the east, about 15 knots. Seas were a little sloppy but we did fine. The group caught a keeper lane snapper, a keeper yellowtail snapper, and a mess of whitebone porgies 13-14 inches. They released short mangrove snapper, red grouper and triggerfish. We had what would have been a keeper gag grouper hooked, but a barracuda helped himself to all but the head portion of that. We casted that back in and caught the ‘cuda on a light spinning rod, with a piece of wire. Mike photographed the 47-inch barracuda and we released it. We also saw a 9-foot lemon shark, which circled the boat three times.
Mike Bochman, son John, Dennis Ring and son, Dennis Jr. had fished with me on Saturday, 6/26 and did so again on Monday and Tuesday, 6/28 and 6/29. Saturday, we focused on catching some good-to-eat fish, but we also released a big barracuda, which got the boy’ adrenalin surging for catching some big ones. Monday, we released eleven goliath grouper, ranging in size from 25 pounds to 100 pounds. We used Spanish mackerel and blue runners for bait, and the group returned with sore arms and a lot of stories to tell!
The Bochman group, comprised Tuesday of Mike Bochman, Dennis Ring and friends, Marty and Kevin, finished out their fishing adventures with an inshore, catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay, where the group released a mess of mangrove snapper, six of which were keeper-size, two 14-inch sheepshead, small redfish and crevalle jack.