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Post Info TOPIC: SW FL-Bonita Beach: Good Action--Lots of Hogfish!

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SW FL-Bonita Beach: Good Action--Lots of Hogfish!


“No oil—No spoil

Our Beaches are Clean—Our Waters Pristine”

Monday, 2/21, Don Kennis, his dad, Doug, and his twelve-year-old son, Bradley, fished a catch-and-release trip with me about 18 miles west of New Pass. We released a hogfish, thirty mangrove snapper, red grouper, grunts, porkfish and sheepshead. There were some keepers among the mangs and sheepies, but the Kennis family just wanted to fish for sport, while visiting from Ohio, so we released all.

Tuesday morning, Mike Connealy, his sister, Kass, and her husband, Rod, headed out with me in hopes of playing with the goliath grouper for a while, then catching some table-fare. We did hook a few goliaths, but never got one close enough to photograph. We moved on and fished in 43 feet with shrimp to catch about sixteen food-fish, including whitebone porgies, grunts and triggerfish. We released mangrove snapper and grouper shorts.

Wednesday morning, the keeper-sized fish were more abundant, when I fished with Frank Partee, his son, Mike, and Mike's wife, Ginger in 43 feet, 18 miles west of New Pass, though the fog persisted offshore most of the morning.. The Partees chose to release everything except what they needed for dinner, but we caught a nice variety, including a dozen keeper whitebone porgies, all about 14 inches, of which we kept three, and eight sheepshead, including four keepers, of which we kept the largest, 18 inches. We also caught about twenty mangrove snapper and kept one that was 13 inches. We released a 12-inch hogfish, grouper shorts, grunts, porkfish, triggerfish, and a 20-inch Spanish mackerel.

Thursday, Ron Musick, who fishes with me frequently during winter-season, brought his friends, Dick Arnett, Eddie Alfonse, Fred McNeil and Denzel Green, and we headed out about 38 miles to fish with live shrimp in 70 feet. We brought home 39 fish, including 38 large whitebone porgies to 22 inches and one 15-inch mangrove snapper. We actually caught close to a hundred keeper-sized whitebones, but released all but the largest of those. We also released gag and red grouper to 20 inches.

Jim McGrath and Bill Crockett, who fished with me last week, fished with me again on Friday, 2/25. Winds picked up that morning, and seas were a little sloppy so we decided to fish near-shore at MAY Reef, off Bonita Beach. We did very well, using live shrimp, and caught twenty-seven keeper-sized sheepshead. The guys kept a dozen of those to 18 ½ inches. We also caught thirty keeper-sized mangrove snapper and kept ten of those to 17 inches. We released grouper shorts, and we enjoyed steady action the entire morning.

With the bite as good as it was at the reefs on Friday, I headed back out to fish there on Saturday, this time with long-time customers Lee Larsen and Bud Glazer, and their friends, Joe Kaufman and Alan Bronson. After a couple of minor mishaps on the way out, which included running up on a mud flat in the dense early-morning fog, then getting a wad of improperly discarded fishing line wrapped around my starboard engine, we ended up doing well catching fish. So, other than losing the shine on my prop and having to spend some time unraveling fishing line, which had completely shut down my starboard engine, it was a good morning! (Notice to all anglers: Please discard your fishing line appropriately, which means not in the water.) Anyway, using live shrimp, we caught three keeper hogfish, 13 inches, 16 inches and 17 inches, a keeper triggerfish at 14 inches, nine keeper sheepshead to 17 inches, and thirteen keeper mangrove snapper. We released smaller sheepshead, snappers and grouper-shorts.

Monday morning, 2/28, predictions were for calm seas, but the winds picked up to 15 to 20 knots and there were 3 foot seas even at the near-shore reefs, where I fished with Joe and Ursula Padavic. We caught about twenty-five sheepshead, and kept five of them that ranged from 13 to 18 inches. We also caught two hogfish, including one keeper at 15 inches. We released the shorts, along with a 20-inch Spanish mackerel.

Tuesday, Ron Musick fished with me again, this time at the near-shore reefs, along with his friends, Eddie Alfonse and Dick Arnett. Once again, the bite was on! We caught seventeen keeper mangrove snapper, two hogfish that were 13 inches and 16 inches, three keeper Spanish mackerel, and about forty sheepshead, of which we kept ten to 15 inches. We also caught a mess of grunts, and we released grouper shorts.

I suspected that Tuesday would be the last day this week for calm seas, as rain ushered in a windy cool-front late Tuesday. Sure enough, there were small-craft cautions issued for Wednesday morning, and seas were building to three-to-five feet offshore. Ross McDonald, his son Gary, his eight-year-old grandson, Evan, and his ten-year-old grandson, Ethan, had planned a morning of offshore fishing. Once advised of conditions, we changed that plan and, instead, fished in Estero Bay. The boys caught a lot of sheepshead, most of them released, but we did get two keepers at 14 ¾ inches and 15 ½ inches. We also got a 15-inch flounder, which we kept, and we released a five-pound crevalle jack.

Jim McGrath and Bill Crockett, who fished offshore with me a couple times over the past several weeks, also had to trade their offshore plans for backwater fishing on Thursday, with strong winds and rough seas keeping us inshore. We used live shrimp to catch two keeper trout at 19 inches and a6 inches, and we released sheepshead-shorts and ladyfish…oh, and Bill wanted to be sure I gave him credit for his “back-bay, garbage-can slam,” which included a catfish, a stingray, a ladyfish and a crevalle jack!

Rough conditions persisted Friday and Saturday and I had to cancel my offshore fishing trips those days.

The photo shown is of angler, Ron Musick, with a 22-inch whitebone porgy, caught on shrimp, on an offshore trip 2/24/11.

22-inch porgy

Captain Dave Hanson Marti Hanson, Manager Fishbuster Charters, Inc. 239 947-1688 www.fishbustercharters.com fishbuster@comcast.net
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