After several weeks off the water because of a family reunion trip, followed by lots of rainy days unsuitable for fishing, I finally got offshore on Friday, 7/20/12 with John Hamilton and friends. We fished 36 miles west of New Pass, where we got into some red grouper. We didn't get a keeper, though, out of the 100+ reds we caught and released. All were between 16 and 19 1/2 inches. The guys did catch some food-fish, however: Six large grunts, six big whitebone porgies, and six yellowtail snapper to 14 inches. They also released a 38-inch sharp-nose shark and a 70-pound goliath grouper.
I had an offshore trip scheduled for Monday, 7/23, but the rains of the weekend threatened to persist into Monday, so I postponed that trip to Tuesday morning. I headed out about 18 miles on Tuesday with Ron Sticha and his twelve-year-old son, Noah. We used live shrimp to catch a variety of fish, including a 17-inch keeper hogfish, four keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, two keeper lane snapper, three keeper porkfish, three Spanish mackerel to 26 inches, grunts, and eight whitebone porgy keepers to 14 inches. We released fifteen additional mangrove snapper that were shorts, a few yellowtail snapper to 11 1/2 inches, a half dozen gag grouper to 20 inches, six red grouper to 18 1/2 inches, a triggerfish-short, and some blue runners.
Friday morning, 7/27, I headed offshore to about 18 miles west of New Pass with Joel Anderson, his nine-year-old son, Samuel, Joel's brother Chris, Chris' daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Jonathan Metcalf, and Chris' other daughter, Amber Anderson. We used live shrimp and caught a good variety of fish, including three hogfish, one of which was a keeper at 14 inches, eight keeper lane snapper, four porkfish keepers, and five whitebone porgies, all around 14 inches. The group also released yellowtail and mangrove snapper shorts to 11 inches, a small Spanish mackerel, and gag and red grouper shorts to 18 inches.
Saturday, I headed out about twelve miles to fish in 35 feet with Dr. Meir Daller, wife Mie, and their two sons, Julian, age eight, and Brenden, age four. It's nice that gag grouper season recently re-opened because Meir got to keep the 23 1/2 inch gag he caught on a bait-fish. The family also used live shrimp to catch a 17-inch keeper hogfish, a couple of keeper porkfish, three keeper mangrove snapper, grunts and whitebone porgies. They released some shorter mangrove snapper, along with most of the fifteen Spanish mackerel they caught, keeping only four of those to 24 inches.
Monday, 7/30, I fished with Paul Fenwick, his two young children, Emma and Spencer, along with John Purdy and daughter, Jordan, and friend, Susan Carlisle. We fished with live shrimp in 38-40 feet, targeting anything that the kids would enjoy catching. The group caught four keeper Spanish mackerel all 20-22 inches, ten keeper lane snapper, two keeper porkfish and some grunts. They released about twenty red grouper shorts, measuring all the way to 19 7/8, just missing the 20-inch legal size. They also released a triggerfish–short, and had a ton of fun!
Thursday, 8/2, I fished inshore in Estero Bay with David Rosati, son Tanner, and Tanner's friend, Kyle. We used live shrimp to catch three redfish, two of which were keepers at 18 inches. The group also caught fifteen mangrove snapper, seven of which were keepers at 11 inches, one 14-inch black drum, and a 12-inch sheepshead. They released one small stingray and one 16-inch snook.
Friday, I headed out to fish in 30 feet with Mark and Nina Dulberg and their three children, Jessica, Jason and Max. We caught twenty-five Spanish mackerel to 24 inches, and the group kept a dozen of those. They released mangrove snapper shorts and small grunts. At one point, we had a very big hogfish hooked, but a goliath grouper decided he deserved that dinner more than the Dulbergs did!