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Monday, 3/30, looked like it might have to be an inshore day when I heard the marine forecast the night before. But by early morning, the forecast had changed and it was looking calm enough to head to the reefs. I fished there with Dave Kempston, his sons, Alex, Brennan and Connor, and Alex’s friend, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Griffin</st1:place></st1:City>. Using shrimp, we caught a dozen keeper mangrove snapper to 17 inches, most of them in the 14 to 17 inch range. We also kept five sheepshead, all about 15 inches. We almost had a red grouper, but he was just a bit short at 19 ½ inches so we had to release him, along with gag shorts, Spanish mackerel and blue runner.

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Keith Erickson and friends 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 Tuesday morning. We almost had a couple of nice reds, but one broke off and we lost the other before we could boat him. We did catch a 17 inch sea trout, two keeper mangrove snapper and two keeper sheepshead for the box.

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Wednesday morning was a tough call on gulf versus bay, with the time-line of this windy front uncertain. Jerry and Denise Demars and grandson, Jake, managed to get a morning of fishing at the reefs about 5 miles off Bonita Beach before it got too sloppy out there. We caught six keeper mangrove snapper, keeper Spanish mackerel, a 15 inch flounder and large grunts. We released under-sized triggerfish, grouper and sheepshead.

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Decisions on fishing offshore were made easier on Thursday, when seas of three-to-five felt were predicted within twenty miles. I cancelled my offshore trip for that day. I did likewise on Friday, but ended up re-booking the morning for an inshore catch-and-release trip with Gary Mozina, his friend, Mike, and Mike’s eleven-year-old son, Eric. There was a stiff wind blowing all morning and the fishing wasn’t as good as it had been in the bay earlier this week. We released four sheepshead, a few mangrove snapper and ladyfish.

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Saturday morning, seas were relatively calm but there was a good sized swell left over from the windy front, so I fished near-shore at the reefs with Rob Wessels, his daughter Sydney, son, Tanner, and friend, Kristi Whalen. We did well with live shrimp for snapper and sheepshead, ending up with fourteen keeper snapper to 15 inches and four sheepshead, all 17-18 inches.

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The photo shown is of angler, Terry Vallely, with a 14 inch hogfish, caught on shrimp on a recent gulf trip.


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