fishbuster

SW FL-Bonita Beach: Great Fishing Inshore and Near-shore

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mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} </style> <![endif]--> Monday morning, 12/19, I fished in the backwaters of Estero Bay with Larry Baumgartner, his son Chris, granddaughter, Madeline, and family friend, Walt Barney. The tide was a little on the low side, but we made the most of it, and were able to catch a 19 ½ inch pompano and three keeper sheepshead to 15 inches. The group released seventeen smaller sheepshead, a few crevalle jacks, a 24-inch snook, and a six-pound stingray. We used live shrimp for everything.

It was still choppy well offshore on Tuesday, so Frank Barry, brothers Tim and Zack Rivera, and friend, Steve Flower, decided to stay inshore and fish the Estero Bay flats, with live shrimp. The group broke my previous record by two on the number of redfish caught in one morning: twenty-two in all! Only one of those was legal to keep, at 19 1/2 inches, so we released the rest, along with crevalle jack, ladyfish, a small founder and a 20-pound stingray. We also caught three keeper sheepshead, all around 15 inches, and we released some smaller sheepshead.

Though seas were forecast earlier in the week to be calming down by Wednesday, such wasn’t the case as of the early morning forecast that day. The winds continued to blow pretty hard, and Rob & Tracy Wessels , their son, Tanner, and their daughter, Maddie, decided to fish the backwaters, on my recommendation. The family caught half a dozen redfish, one of which was a keeper at 19 inches. They also caught two keeper sheepshead. They released eight smaller sheepshead, an 18-inch gafftop sailcat, and four stingray, the largest of which was 18-to-20 pounds.

I finished off my pre-holiday week with a backwaters trip with Bob Potts and son, Trevor, Friday morning, 12/23/11. We fished the channel down toward Wiggins Pass, using live shrimp. We caught and released a 20-inch sea trout (sea trout are presently out-of-season.) The duo also caught two nice sheepshead, 15 inches and 17 inches, and they released twenty-five smaller sheepshead. They also caught two 16-inch pompano.

Tuesday morning, 12/27, just ahead of a cold-front's approach, I fished Estero Bay with long-time customers, the Tomlinsons. Vince and Jenny, along with their son and daughter, Mike and Katie, had fun catching lots of sheepshead on live shrimp. Most were smaller than keeper size and were released, but the family kept one 13-inch sheepshead to go with a 15-inch whiting they caught, for dinner. Vince also caught a nice, 17-inch trout, which had to be released, since trout are out of season for another few days. The family also released some big sailcats, small snapper, and a 16-inch crevalle jack.

Wednesday morning began chilly, with about 48 degrees and a stiff wind. But, long-time customers Steve Spitzer and Jalissa Reever braved the chill to fish in Estero Bay with me. Jalissa also brought her son, Joe Tusing, along. The tide was dead-low most of the morning, but the trip did well anyway, using live shrimp to catch three keeper sheepshead, all in the 14-to-15-inch range, as well as a 16 ½-inch black drum and a 20-inch, keeper redfish. They released lots of smaller sheepshead, along with a puffer fish, a 6-pound crevalle jack, and a 20 ½-inch trout. Let’s hope these nice trout stick around for the opening of trout season on January 1st.

Thursday, I fished inshore again, this time with Len Salefia and friend, Jim. We caught lots of sheepshead to 17 ½ inches, two redfish, including one 18 ½-inch keeper, and a 19-inch black drum, all on shrimp. The guys kept the largest sheepshead and the black drum for a fish dinner, and released the rest.

Friday morning, seas were finally calm enough to get out to the near-shore reefs. I did so with Dick Driscoll, his son, Rich Driscoll, and grandson, Jack. They were joined by friend, Steve Calhoun and his two young daughters, Emma and Sadie. The group used live shrimp to catch two keeper pompano, 13 inches and 14 inches, three keeper sheepshead to 16 ½ inches, and a keeper flounder. They released lots of smaller sheepshead, along with lots of Atlantic barbs.

The new year began with predictions for an approaching cold-front…in fact, my offshore trip for Monday, 1/2/12 canceled, due to small craft advisories and questionable timing on the front’s arrival that morning. And Tuesday’s predicted low temp of 34 degrees scared my Tuesday trip into rescheduling for Friday, 1/6. But we’ll do our best to fish whenever we can this coming week! Happy New Year to all!

The photo shown is of angler, Joe Tusing, with a 20 ½-inch trout, caught on shrimp and released in Estero Bay on an inshore fishing trip the final days of 2011. Had this trout been caught two days later, trout season would have been re-opened and it would have gone in the fish cooler instead of back into the bay!

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