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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 <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Estero</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Bay</st1:placetype></st1:place> with live shrimp, where we caught a 23 inch black drum (see photo) and five keeper sheepshead. We released lots of smaller sheepshead and crevalle jack.<o:p></o:p>

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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 <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Estero</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Bay</st1:placetype></st1:place> 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Estero</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Bay</st1:placetype></st1:place> with me, using live shrimp. We caught an 18 inch trout, a19 inch pompano, three keeper sheepshead and a keeper mangrove snapper.

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Friday morning, as yet another windy front roared through, I fished <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Estero</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Bay</st1:placetype></st1:place> 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.

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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.

resizedStuartNorris-23in-black-drum.JPG.

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