Pat Fitzgerald and his sons have fished with me for years. This year, the boys brought some friends along for a boat-load of six, including Pat, sons Jimmy and Tommy and friends, Matthew, Jacob, and Brandon. We headed out of New Pass Thursday morning, 7/1, to fish in 44 feet. The boys caught a mess of yellowtail snapper and kept two of those that were 14 inches. They also caught a few nice whitebone porgies to 15 inches, along with a 44-inch king mackerel. We caught a big blue runner, about 4 ˝ pounds, and used him as bait to hook and release a huge goliath grouper—I estimated him at about 375 pounds and about as big around as an oil-drum! We also released small mangrove snapper, triggerfish, Spanish mackerel and porgies.
Friday, 7/2, Scott and Jeanette Thron and friends, Mike Radkin and Jerry Vojtush, had hoped to spend a full-day fishing offshore. But, after checking the weather forecast, I had to tell them that we’d likely be lucky to get a half-day in before the rains. So, we headed out of New Pass with intentions to fish as long as we could. We did well with hogfish, catching four of them, three of which were keepers to 16 ˝ inches. We also caught eight keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, keeper porkfish to 12 inches and some keeper whitebone porgies, all on live shrimp. We released smaller porgies and yellowtail snapper, along with a 90-pound goliath grouper that bit a 25-inch mackerel. We made it in just before the heavy rains began so we got wet while cleaning fish but, at least, we were off the water.
After a rainy weekend over the 4th of July holiday, long-time customers, Dennis and Jamie Riddell brought their friends, Doyce & Kay Paine along to fish offshore with me on Monday morning, 7/5. We fished with live shrimp in 34 feet, off of Naples. Dennis caught a keeper gag grouper at 23 inches and Jamie caught two keeper hogfish, 13 ˝ and 15 inches. The group also caught a half dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 15 inches. We had tried to catch a grouper on a pinfish at one point, reeled in the bait and had it hanging just at the water’s surface to lure a cobia, when a 4-foot bull shark bit the pinfish—we released him, along with some smaller mangrove snapper and undersized triggerfish.
Tuesday morning, the rains held off but seas were pretty sloppy early in the day, having been churned up by storms the evening before. I headed offshore with Tanner Rust and family to 45 feet, and we decided not to venture further than that in the sloppy conditions. The boys had a great time with goliath grouper, hooking and releasing seven of those, to 150 pounds. They also released mangrove and yellowtail snapper shorts, short red grouper and short gag grouper to 21 inches. They caught a mess of good-sized whitebone porgies and grunts so they could have something to cook after their day of goliath adventures.
Tim Otterlee and his three young sons fished Wednesday morning with me, over live-bottom in about 35 feet, near-shore, where we caught keeper mangrove and lane snapper, porgies and Spanish mackerel. We released red grouper shorts.
Robert Duhlberg was in town on business, along with his boss, Lair, so the two snuck away for a morning of fishing in Estero Bay on Thursday. We used live shrimp to catch eleven trout, though only one was keeper size at 16 inches. We also caught fifteen mangrove snapper, two of which were keepers.
Monday morning, 7/12, Frank Krumm and his twelve-year-old son, Jordan, fished in 75 feet with me, using live shrimp. They caught six keeper yellowtail snapper and released smaller ones, along with porgies and triggerfish. They had planned to fish all day, but decided they'd had enough heat by 1PM, so we returned then.