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SUBJECT: SW FL-Bonita Beach: Inshore & Reef Report

Submitted by Captain Dave Hanson ( from FLORIDA on

With gusty winds and high seas Sunday morning, 3/22, Stuart Norris and Mike Holers took my recommendation to fish the backwaters. We fished central Estero Bay with live shrimp, where we caught a 23 inch black drum and five keeper sheepshead. We released lots of smaller sheepshead and crevalle jack.

Eight-year-old angler, Alex Goodall has been fishing with me yearly since he was three years old. He, his dad, Joe, and two family friends, Dave Bixby and Fred Irish, fished Estero Bay with me Monday. Alex caught an 18 ½ inch trout, once again out-fishing the adults, as he usually does. The group also caught three keeper pompano, two keeper mangrove snapper and seven keeper sheepshead, all on live shrimp.

The winds were howling Tuesday morning but they were easterly and the close-in forecast was for two to three foot seas, even though it was much rougher than that well offshore. I headed out to the near-shore artificial reefs with Ron Musick, Richard Arnett, Richard’s grandson, Jack, and father-son anglers Larry and Mark Laudick. We caught fourteen keeper sheepshead to 18 inches, with Jack catching the largest of those. We also caught five keeper mangrove snapper and a couple of large grunts, all on shrimp. We released lots of grouper shorts.

Wednesday was another windy day and I encountered three-to-four foot seas even at the near-shore reefs, where I fished with Sandy Hook, sons-in-law Ryan Abbot and Matt Ball, and grandchildren Nathaniel Ball, age thirteen, and Emmit Ball, age ten. We caught a keeper sheepshead, a large grunt and five keeper Spanish mackerel, all about 20 inches, before we called it a morning and took a rough ride back in.

Thursday morning, we played it safe and stayed inshore as the winds continued to blow hard. Mike Curran and son, John, and father-son team, Don and Dan Bernardi fished central Estero Bay with me, using live shrimp. We caught an 18 inch trout, a19 inch pompano, three keeper sheepshead and a keeper mangrove snapper.

Friday morning, as yet another windy front roared through, I fished Estero Bay with Jeff Reichle and friend, warren. We caught four keeper-sized sheepshead to 15 inches and a 21 inch keeper redfish. We released two small snook at 18 inches and 22 inches.

I had planned to fish offshore Saturday, but seas were too rough. When the winds are this high, even back-bay fishing is challenging, so I scrapped Saturday’s fishing plans and remained in port.


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