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I had planned to fish everyday of Thanksgiving week, but by Wednesday, 11/24, it was raining in advance of a cold front that kicked up seas to 5-7 feet offshore on Friday. The next time I got to fish, after Tuesday, was on Saturday morning, 11/28, and with seas as rough as they were Friday, we decided to play it safe and fish the backwaters. I fished with Mike & Regan McIntosh and their friends, Clark & Ashley Horgan. The redfish bite was on and we released eleven of those, along with several sheepshead. We kept a larger sheepshead and a 15-inch flounder, all caught on live shrimp.

Monday morning, 11/30, with seas calmed down offshore, I headed out to 43 feet with Nicole Sennett and her boyfriend, Mike. We caught a mess of Spanish mackerel to 24 inches, keeper mangrove snapper, keeper lane snapper, and whitebone porgies. We released lots o grouper shorts, yellowtail snapper, and triggerfish to 13 inches, all caught on shrimp. Mike had fun catching and releasing a 60 pound goliath grouper, which bit a pinfish.

Tuesday was a good morning of fishing, especially for grouper, with Erwin and Millie Metusiak. We fished in 46 feet out of New Pass with live shrimp and caught a 26-inch keeper gag grouper, a 20 ½ inch keeper red grouper, a 16-inch keeper triggerfish, and keeper lane and mangrove snapper. We released lots of shorts of all those species. It was good to finally get a keeper trigger, since the new size-limits on those (14-inch minimum) have made keepers hard to come by.

Wednesday, it rained all day and did much of the same parts of Thursday, all of Friday and most of Saturday. I had to cancel all my trips for those days and was unable, unfortunately, to reschedule them. I set my sites upon better weather for this coming week, which is predicted, at least for the first part of the week. We have an El Nino weather pattern in effect this winter, which is notorious for interfering with fishing plans, given the wetter winter it brings.

Monday, 12/7, was finally a nice day to head offshore and I did exactly that with Mark Muller and son, Mark Muller, Jr. We fished 37 miles west of New Pass and did very well with snapper of all varieties. We caught fourteen yellowtails to 16 inches, ten mangs to 15 inches, and a half-dozen lanes to 13 inches, all on shrimp. We also caught keeper-sized Spanish mackerel to 20 inches, and keeper-sized porgies, but we released those, as the guys had plenty of snapper to feast upon. We also released lots of grouper and triggerfish shorts, a 4 1/2 foot sandbar shark, and an 80-pound goliath grouper, which bit a blue runner. On our trip in, about 4 1/2 miles offshore, we saw a nice tarpon roll, but we were underway at that time.

Tim Carberry and June DeJonge fished Estero Bay with me on a windy Wednesday morning. The two were admitted novices, but they caught on quickly and had a good time fishing with live shrimp. We caught and released four redfish to 17 ¾ inches, just ¼ inch short of legal keeper-size. We also caught a keeper sheepshead at 13 inches and a 19-inch black drum.

Friday morning, I fished the bay with Jonathan Tracy and friend, Jeff. The tide was low and slow and we tried to stay as sheltered as possible from the twenty-knot winds that blew most of the morning. We caught keeper sheepshead and mangrove snapper on shrimp.

Saturday, with seas still kicked up offshore, the Dargis family decided to stick with the backwaters. Grandpa Leon, son, Brett, and grandsons, Connor and Blake, caught and released redfish just short of keeper-size, along with an 18 ½ inch snook. The group also caught keeper some sheepshead and a half-dozen keeper mangrove snapper, all on shrimp.

The photo shown is of young angler, Ben Hutson, with a 25-inch gag grouper, caught on shrimp on a recent offshore trip.


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