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Wednesday, 1/20, seas laid down nicely and I had a great morning of fishing with Rick and Ann McGrath and Orlando and Susan Ferrer. We headed out of New Pass to 43 feet and fished with live shrimp. We did well with grouper and snapper, and caught two keeper gag grouper at 25 inches and 23 inches, and thirteen keeper-sized mangrove snapper to 18 1/2 inches. We also caught a few keeper lane snapper and sheepshead, and we released lots of smaller grouper and snapper, with steady action all morning.

Unfortunately, those ideal conditions were short-lived. Another weather–front moved in and, as of Thursday morning, there was a small craft advisory and seas of three-to-five feet offshore. Friday was only slightly better in terms of seas, with strong winds and heavy fog most of the day. Both my Thursday and Friday trips were for offshore and both had to be cancelled.

Saturday, seas were predicted to be two-to-four feet, but the wind’s strength led me to believe that the seas would likely be at the higher end of the range. Since my anglers that day included two six-year-olds, we voted to fish in the backwaters. We fished central Estero Bay with live shrimp, and caught nine keeper whitings and a 15-inch sheepshead. We released lots of smaller sheepshead, some crevalle jacks and lots of ladyfish.

The next weather-front moved in overnight Sunday, bringing rain and gusty winds Monday morning, and I had to cancel Monday's offshore trip. Tuesday's trip was also for offshore and the seas, still in the 3-5 foot range, necessitated also cancelling that one.

Wednesday, seas were still sloppy, but slightly better, with predictions of two-to-four feet out to 60 miles. I had a group of experienced, hardy anglers going with me, so we headed offshore to 43 feet. If it hadn't been so sloppy we might have headed out further but, as it turned out, we were exactly where we needed to be--We had an awesome day of fishing, using live shrimp to catch a plethora of fish. We landed a 28-inch gag grouper (see photo), twenty-eight beautiful mangrove snapper to just over 20 inches, three keeper hogfish to 17 inches, three keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, and a few triggerfish that were keeper-size but that we chose to release. We also released lots of smaller mangrove snapper, red grouper and gag grouper.

Thursday, I headed back offshore to 46 feet, this time with Drew Van Werden and his young sons, Gabe, age eight, and Charlie, age ten. We caught a mess of nice mangrove snapper to 18 inches, two keeper sheepshead to 17 inches and a 22-inch, keeper red grouper. We released lots of undersized red and gag grouper, triggerfish, grunts, porgies and a small hogfish. The boys had a great time, with steady action all morning.

More nasty weather rolled in over the weekend and I was off the water from Friday, 1/29 through Tuesday, 2/2.


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