With rough seas persisting into the weekend, my Saturday charter was deferred to Monday, 11/14/11, when seas calmed to two-to-three feet. I headed about 22 miles offshore, out of New Pass, with Bob and Stephanie Rose. We caught a bunch of grouper, but no keepers. Using shrimp and pinfish, we caught and released fifteen red grouper to 18 1/2 inches and three gag grouper to 18 inches. We used shrimp to catch five mangrove snapper to 16 inches, seven keeper lane snapper, and ten porgies. We released yellowtail snapper shorts.
Tuesday, Mike Lischer and Jeff Heinrich, who had fished the bay with me the previous Friday, decided to try an offshore trip. We headed out about 23 miles west of New Pass, where we caught and released a mess of undersized red and gag grouper before we hit the jackpot with a 25-inch, 11-pound red grouper, which bit a pinfish. We also caught about fifty keeper lane snapper, though the guys kept only nine of those, and we released porgies, grunts, blue runners and a remora.
Thursday morning, 11/17, I fished the backwaters of Estero Bay with Peder Engebretson and Dan Fazendin, using live shrimp for bait. We caught a 21-inch keeper redfish, two big black drum, at 26 inches (15 pounds) and 29 inches (18 pounds), a 15-inch sheepshead, and six mangrove snapper. We released some short mangs and a few crevalle jacks. The guys decided to release the two big black drum also, as they had enough fish for dinner without them. So they are out there, waiting to be caught once again!
Saturday morning, I fished in Estero Bay with Vince Tomlinson, Andrew Steiger, Bob Krough and his son, Ryan Krough. We caught four redfish, two of which were keepers at 18 1/2 and 19 1/2 inches. We also caught three keeper sheepshead, all 13 1/2 to 14 1/2 inches. We released two 18-inch snook, a pufferfish and some ladyfish.
Monday, 11/21, I headed offshore for a day of fishing with Wayne Bauman and his son-in-law, Mike Lorenz. Fishing was great, about 38 miles west of New Pass, where we got into some nice grouper. We caught six keeper red grouper to 21 ½ inches, using spot-tail grunts for bait. We released more than a hundred additional red and gag grouper shorts to 19 inches, and we lost three other big ones. The rest of our catches were on live shrimp, and included twenty-five keeper lane snapper, all about 11 inches long. The guys chose to release all but five of those. We also caught a 14 ½ inch triggerfish, and released lots of smaller triggerfish, along with a mess of big grunts. The mangrove snapper we caught were mostly shorts, except for one nice 16-inch mang that we kept. We also caught two nice yellowtail snapper at 16 inches each. Of the thirty keeper-sized whitebone porgies we caught, the guys kept only the largest one, at 17 inches. We also released four small amberjacks, all about 20 inches. All in all, it was a very good day of fishing!
Wayne and Mike returned, despite sore arms from the previous day's fishing, to fish with me again on Tuesday. We fished in a couple of spots 28 miles and 36 miles west of New Pass. We continued to catch lots of red grouper, and released about fifty of those. Two were mighty close to keepers at 19 7/8 inches but, when they are that close, it is safest to release them. We also released four gag grouper, all about 21 inches. We caught a 29-inch king mackerel, four keeper yellowtail snapper, four keeper mangrove snapper, and we released lots of mangrove and yellowttail shorts. We also caught five keeper-sized triggerfish, and the guys kept the biggest one of those, which measured 15 inches. We also kept eight out of thirty whitebone porgies, as well as a 15-inch sheepshead. We released two 20-inch amberjacks and a 70-pound goliath grouper.
Wednesday morning, I fished the islands in Estero Bay on an incoming tide with Tom Zensen, John Hamilton and Greg Bauer. We caught thirteen redfish in all, six of which were keepers to 21 1/2 inches. We also caught three keeper sheepshead to 15 inches, and released eight small crevalle jacks.
After the Thanksgiving Day holiday, I was back in Estero Bay Friday morning, fishing a catch-and-release trip with Amy Banks and Andrew Gires. They had planned to fish offshore, but the rough seas and high winds dictated otherwise, so we headed to the most wind-sheltered fishing holes in the bay. We did well with redfish, using live shrimp. We caught six of those, to 21 inches, along with a 15-inch sheepshead. We also released smaller sheepshead, snapper, crevalle jacks, ladyfish, and a stingray.
Winds and seas picked up over the weekend, with small craft advisories offshore. Rough conditions are forecast into the middle of the coming week.