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Monday, 2/23 brought yet another windy start to this week. I headed out of new Pass with Jim Sistek, his son, Jim Jr., grandson and friend, Frank, in what was predicted to be two-to-three foot seas. We were barely out of the pass before we were contemplating turning back because of strong northerly winds and rough seas. But the wind calmed a little bit and allowed us to get to some live bottom in about 30 feet. We used live shrimp and caught eight keeper mangrove snapper, nine sheepshead to 20 inches, and some grunts. We also caught what would have been a keeper gag grouper, at 23 inches, but we had to release that one due to extended closed season. We also released lots of gag and red grouper shorts, porkfish, triggerfish and small snapper, along with a fourteen-pound goliath grouper and an eleven-pound bonito.


I delayed heading offshore by about an hour Tuesday, with Ron Musick, Dick Arnett and friends, Eddie, Larry & Bob, in order to give the winds a chance to decrease a little. The windy-morning, calmer-afternoon pattern of Monday was duplicated Tuesday. It was still pretty sloppy when we headed out, but we were able to get out from <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">New</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> about 19 miles, where we caught keeper mangrove snapper to 15 inches, porgies and grunts. We released lots of grouper shorts and triggerfish.


Relief from rough seas came on Wednesday, when I fished inshore with Alene Haug, her son, Scott Kempfort, her mother, Carrie, and friends Doug & Cathy. We used live shrimp on oyster-bottom and caught five keeper sheepshead to 16 ½ inches. We released smaller sheepshead and snapper.


Fishing at the near-shore reefs off Bonita Beach Thursday with Ed & Margie Bock, we caught five nice sheepshead to 18 ½ inches, along with half a dozen keeper mangrove snapper. We released lots of smaller snapper and sheepshead, with an active bite all morning.


I fished central <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Estero</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Bay</st1:placetype></st1:place> Friday with Joe Burgert, son Max, and friend, Jim Gunz. We caught six keeper sheepshead to 16 inches, along with a keeper mangrove snapper, and we released a 17 ¾ inch redfish, just ¼ inch lacking for keeper-size. We also released smaller sheepshead and crevalle jack.


Saturday morning, I fished 19 miles out of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">New</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> with Earl Meturfman and friends. We had lots of action all morning, but that included a lot of grouper and snapper shorts that we released. We ended up with two keeper mangrove snapper, three sheepshead to 18 inches, and whitebone porgies to 14 inches, all on live shrimp.


The photo shown is of angler, Ron Musick, with an 18 inch mangrove snapper, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip.


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