Monday, 6/20, was a perfect day for offshore fishing, and I spent the day in the good company of Jamie Long, Tom O’Donoghue, Rich Shamer and Matt Booth. We fished about 36 miles west of New Pass in 70 feet, using live shrimp and bait-fish. We made out great with red grouper, catching five keepers all 22 to 24 inches, and we released about 35 additional grouper that were short of keeper-size. We also caught fifteen nice yellowtail snapper to 16 inches, twenty-five nice whitebone porgies, of which the group kept ten, a mess of grunts, and a few keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches. We had a really nice mang on the line at one point—about 16 inches—but a barracuda spotted that one and mangled it as we reeled it in. We also caught a 39 inch king mackerel, and caught and released two sharpnose sharks at three-foot each, a four-to-five-foot bull shark, and four goliath grouper ranging 50 to 150 pounds. And, our surprise catch of the day was a mahi-mahi, usually caught in Miami and the Keys, but today we were surrounded by them—small ones to about 18 inches.
Tuesday, I had a half-day trip and I didn’t venture as far as I had on Monday. But, that didn’t stop us from getting some nice catches, about 20 miles west of New Pass. I fished with Jeff Wampler, whose family has fished with me for many years. Jeff is now second-generation, and now taking his own children fishing. This time, he brought his son, Joe, and also Mike Long, who is Jeff’s daughter’s boyfriend. We used pinfish and live shrimp to catch four keeper red grouper that ranged 20 ˝ to 22 inches long. We caught over fifty red groupers in all, but only four were keepers, though many of the throw-backs were only ˝ inch shy of keeper-size. We also caught eight nice lane snapper, all about 12 inches, and released twenty-five smaller ones, along with grunts and some short mangrove and yellowtail snapper.
I had a lull in fishing trips for the next week, though this coming week looks to be a busy one, that is, if our rainy season's kick-off will allow me to get out.
I finally fished again on Tuesday, 6/28. Monday was canceled, secondary to rain showing up on radar all over the Gulf. I headed offshore Tuesday morning with Mike Bochman and family, who are repeat customers who try to get two or three days of fishing with me included in their June vacation to our area each year. Though NOAA had predicted two-foot seas all the way out to 60 miles, we encountered 25-30 knot winds and rough seas around the many storms in the gulf. We, therefore, didn't head out quite as far as we'd have liked to. Fishing in about 43 feet, we caught nine keeper lane snapper, three Spanish mackerel, all 23-24 inches, grunts and porkfish-keepers. We released short triggerfish, gag and red grouper, yellowtail snapper, and a 100 + pound nurse shark.
Mike Bochman fished with me again on Wednesday morning, this time accompanied by Zach Clark and Steve Anderson. There was still a lot of rain out over the gulf, but we were able to puddle-jump and avoid the heavier rains. We fished about 17 miles west of New Pass in 39 feet. The trio caught four keeper mangrove snapper, all 12-113 inches, and released eight smaller ones. We also caught and released three hogfish, a couple of which were too small to keep and the other a female, which we chose to release. We also kept eleven nice whitebone porgies and ten good-sized grunts, along with three keeper porkfish. We released short yellowtail snapper and red grouper shorts, along with a 4-foot, 35-pound barracuda. We caught everything on live shrimp, except for the ‘cuda, which bit a grunt that was cut in half.
Thursday morning found me avoiding rain storms once again, when I fished with Paul McConnell and his two sons, Andrew and Tim. We fished about 20 miles west of New Pass with live shrimp. The boys caught four keeper lane snapper and released fifteen smaller ones, one keeper mangrove snapper and released ten smaller ones, and a 13-inch keeper jolthead porgy. They also released triggerfish and red grouper shorts, along with a four-foot barracuda.
Friday morning, Mike Bochman fished the last of his trio of trips with me this week. It was the only day of the three that was rain-free in the gulf. Since Mike and friends planned to head back north the next day, they had no interest in keeping fish. They decided they'd like to do some goliath grouper sport-fishing. We headed out to catch bait for the big guys: Spanish mackerel to 24 inches, crevalle jacks, ladyfish and blue runners all made it to the bait box. In the course of catching those, we also caught and released about twenty-five snappers--mangs and lanes. Next, we set about finding the goliaths over hard bottom. Mike and friends, Zach Clark and Tim Lynch, wrestled with three goliaths, one at 125 pounds, one at over 200 pounds, and one about 300 pounds. We called the trip at the half-day mark, after everyone had exhausted arm, shoulder and neck muscles!
Saturday began with some unanticipated heavy storm activity. I delayed my offshore trip by a couple of hours to allow the worst of the weather to pass, then I headed offshore with Brad Wind, his son, Matt, and friends, Andrew Williams and Josh Brown. We went looking for goliaths, as this group, like several others this week, wanted to have fun with big game. The guys caught and released a total of eight goliath grouper, ranging between 30 pounds and 250 pounds, using bait that we caught, such as Spanish mackerel, crevalle jacks and blue runners. We also released mangrove and lane snappers, as well as a nice 26-inch gag grouper, which is currently out of season.