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Monday, 2/2/09, I fished near-shore at the six-mile reefs off Bonita Beach with Larry Dahlstrom and friends. We debated a while over whether to go or not, with rain predicted to usher in our next cold front and with rough conditions to follow. But it looked as though we’d have a only a light drizzle at worst in the morning and that the worst weather would hold off until afternoon. We decided to head to the reefs, close in enough that we could make a quick run back for the dock, if necessary. We did, in fact, get that light drizzle we expected and seas were 3 foot or so even at the reefs, and building by the time we came in. But we did well with sheepshead, catching seven of those to 21 ¾ inches, along with three keeper mangrove snapper, all on shrimp. For the first time in a while, we caught two keeper-sized gag grouper in near-shore waters, each 24 inches, and both having to be released, due to new regulations that close gag season from February 1<SUP>st</SUP> through March 31<SUP>st</SUP>…so we shed a few tears and threw them back.

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The winds and seas roared Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as the mercury slipped down into the thirties. The bay was pretty shallow on Friday, but I managed to find a few spots to fish with Leeds Hutchinson, son Bill, and grandchildren, Tim and Ruth-Ann. We caught a 16 inch trout, three keeper sheepshead and released twenty-five small snapper. Eleven-year-old Ruth-Ann was keeping a close count on her hook-ups and was proud to declare seventeen.

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Saturday morning, I fished at the reefs off of Bonita Beach with Bob Colangelo and son, Peter Butcher, Frank Vayda and friends. The water temperature was only 59 degrees and the bite was kind of slow, not to mention the goliath grouper pests that tried to compete with us for fish. But we managed to catch five keeper sheepshead to 15 inches and we released a 26 inch snook that Peter caught on live shrimp. We also released a lot of small snapper.

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The photo shown is of young angler, Max Shaffran, with a 17 inch sheepshead, caught on shrimp on a recent trip that was Max’s first ever fishing expedition.

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