Monday, 1/16, after a weekend of rough offshore conditions, seas were calming down, with a forecast for two-to-three foot seas out to twenty miles. It was rougher than that, but it was calm enough for my hardy anglers, Bud Glanzer, Lee Larsen, and Alan and Wendell Bronson, all long-time customers. We headed out of new Pass to about twelve miles, where we fished with live shrimp. We caught twenty-two sheepshead, twelve of which were nice keepers to 20 inches. We also caught eight keeper lane snapper. We released about a dozen smaller lanes, along with fifteen mangrove snapper shorts, a flounder, some small gag grouper, grunts and crevalle jacks.
Jason Broctorss, his dad, Barry Broctorss, and friends, Chris Cooley and Brandon Rogers, wanted to do some sport fishing, as well as some fishing for table-fare. We headed out Tuesday morning and fished in various spots between twenty and thirty-five miles west of New Pass. First, we caught some blue runners to use for bait, and those worked to get the guys two good goliath fights with one 150-pound and one 175-pound goliath, both of which were gently released. Next, we targeted some eating fish with live shrimp. The guys caught two nice16-inch sheepshead, four nice mangrove snapper to 16 inches, fifteen nice whitebone porgies, all 14 inches and 15 inches, and a mess of big grunts to 14 inches. We released undersized triggerfish, a big blue angel fish, hogfish shorts, and five amberjack schoolies about 18 inches long. We also released lots of gag grouper to 21 ½ inches, as well as just short red grouper to 19 ¾ inches. We had a big shark surface and bite a porgy we were reeling in at the time, but the shark broke the line. All in all, we had a full, productive day of fishing.
Wednesday morning, Jim Mungo and Doug Bigelow fished a catch-and-release trip in Estero Bay with me. We had a slow tide, making the fishing kind of tough, but we released two snook to 20 inches, a 12-pound stingray, and some mangrove snapper, all caught on live shrimp.
Thursday, I headed out of New Pass with frequent customers Ron Musick and friends, Fred, Tom, Dick and Eddie, to 28 feet. The sheepshead, snapper and grouper were biting well. We used live shrimp to catch seventeen keeper sheepshead to 17 inches. We released eight smaller sheepshead. We also caught seven keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, one keeper lane snapper, a 17-inch flounder, and one keeper triggerfish. We released ten gag grouper to 21 inches, along with four red grouper shorts. We used live shrimp for all our catches.
Friday morning, I headed to the reefs off Bonita Beach, and to the close-in spots where we caught the big sheepshead the previous day. But the sheepshead action wasn’t nearly as steady as it had been the day before. David Bloomfield and his friend, Dave, released a lot of small ones, but got only one keeper sheepie at 15 inches. We also caught keeper snapper and grunts.
Saturday, I headed out to 38 feet, west of New Pass, where I fished with Rich Gosselin, his fiance, Tammy Small, his brother, Gene Gosselin, and friend, Gain Frances. Using live shrimp, the group caught and released five gag grouper to 21 inches and two red grouper shorts. They also caught a 16-inch keeper sheepshead, and released three smaller ones. They added to their fish feast six nice whitebone porgies and six keeper porkfish, as well as some large grunts. The prize catch of the day was an 18-inch hogfish, one of the biggest I have seen around here. We also released a smaller hogfish.
Monday, 1/23, Bill Daniel, Larry Flagg, Ken Holmes, Jack Ross, and Butch Adams fished offshore with me. We started out at the near-shore reefs, then moved to various spots to fish in about 45 feet of water. We used only light tackle and live shrimp, which made for some fun catches with good sized gag grouper. With gag season currently closed, we had to release them, but the guys had a great time catching three nice ones: a 32-inch, 13-pound gag; a 27 1/2-inch, 8-pound gag; and a 23-inch gag. We also caught ten sheepshead, two of which were 15-inch keepers, along with keeper porkfish and grunts. We released quite a few red grouper shorts, as well as mangrove snapper to 11 inches.
Tuesday, my frequent customers, Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonse, Fred McNeal, Dick Arnett, and Bill Ryan fished with me, about 18 miles west of New Pass, using live shrimp. We caught too many grouper to count--reds and gags, but no keepers, with gags out of season and the reds short, to 18 inches. But the group caught eight nice mangrove snapper keepers to 16 inches, three keeper hogfish to 17 inches, a dozen nice whitebone porgies, seven keeper porkfish, and a mess of grunts.
Wednesday morning, Mike McDonald fished Estero Bay with me. He caught a 17-inch black drum, a 16-inch sea trout and two 15-inch sheepshead, all on live shrimp. We released eight smaller sheepshead.
Tony and Tim Rolli, and friend, Ken Boemer, had planned to fish offshore with me on Friday. But the weather forecast was promising trouble on Friday, with probable rain and high winds and seas. With nothing booked on Thursday, I recommended we change their fishing date to Thursday, which worked out well for them. The trio caught three keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches, some nice whitebone porgies, all about 15 inches, a mess of grunts, and a keeper hogfish. The grouper action was great again, and we released three gags to 24 inches that would have been keepers, if not for closed season. We also released numerous gag shorts to 21 inches and red grouper shorts, all 18 and 19 inches, along with some short sheepshead. We used shrimp for all, 19 miles west of New Pass.
Friday was as promised: rainy and windy and rough. I remained in port. By Saturday morning, seas had calmed enough for me to get out to the near-shore reefs off Bonita Beach, where I fished a catch-and-release trip with Scott Severaid, Brian Matlock, Tim Brunkorst, and Tom Thoms. We used live shrimp to catch a 28-inch, 11-pound gag grouper and five would-be-keeper sheepshead to 19 inches. We released those, along with lots of smaller sheepshead and mangrove snapper.