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Sharks, Grouper, Snapper,
By Capt. Dave Hanson
Bonita Beach - 11-30-2017
Mike Connealy, a long-time customer, fished southern Estero Bay’s backwaters with me Friday morning, 11/10/17, using live shrimp for bait. We caught fourteen sheepshead, four of which were keepers ranging from 13 to 18 inches, and four mangrove snapper, including an 11-inch keeper. Mike also released a redfish short, eight snook shorts to 18-inches, and three big sailcats that were all about 20 inches.

Saturday morning, 11/11, I fished in southern Estero Bay with Andy Stuhlmiller and Joe Smith. The guys used live shrimp to catch seven sheepshead to 14 inches, including four keepers, a 16-inch black drum, and a sand bream. They released two mangrove snapper shorts and a short snook.

Mike Connealy, who had fished inshore with me the previous week, brought along his brother, Paul, for an offshore trip on Thursday morning, 11/16. Winds had been howling for a couple of days, and we anticipated that the two-to-three foot seas NOAA had predicted for offshore were likely under-estimated. But the tide was low and outgoing in the bay, so the guys decided to stick with their offshore plans. It was pretty sloppy out fifteen miles, but Mike and Paul used cut-bait and squid for a mixture of sport and food fish. They released four blacknose sharks measuring 24 inches, 30 inches, 38 inches and 48 inches, along with six red grouper shorts to 17 inches. They boxed a dozen keeper lane snapper, all of which were around 11 inches, along with some grunts and a 20-inch Spanish mackerel.

The photo shown is of Mike Connealy, with a 48-inch blacknose shark, caught on cut-bait, 15 miles west of New Pass.

Monday morning, 11/20, was very windy, and much too rough to fish offshore. I fished in southern Estero Bay with Marc Muinzer and his two young sons, Preston and Pierce. The boys used live shrimp to catch four black drum to 16 inches, six sheepshead to 15 inches, and seven keeper sand bream. They released a small crevalle jack and two two-pound stingrays.

Father and son team, Frank and Ryan Dwyer, fished 17 miles west of New Pass with me on Tuesday morning, 11/21. Seas were sloppy heading out and until we were well anchored, but fishing was good once we settled in. The guys used squid and cut-bait to box twenty of the thirty-five lane snapper they caught, to 14 inches. They added eight grunts to the box, and released fifteen red grouper shorts, along with a 19-inch bluefish.

Long-time customer, David Bloomfield, along with his son, Paul, and grandsons, Ross and Hogan, fished 22 miles west of New Pass with me on Wednesday morning, 11/22. The family used squid and cut-bait to box thirty-one keeper lane snapper to 13 inches, along with a few grunts. They released several red grouper shorts.

The morning after the Thanksgiving holiday, 11/24, I was looking forward to the calm, two-foot seas that NOAA had predicted for my planned offshore trip with Chris Dominik, his son, Nathan, and his son-in-law, Nick. We had escaped what was originally a rainy forecast, with the rains having moved through on Thanksgiving Day, leaving us with dry air for Friday. But the seas predictions were way off base. We saw two-footers in the bay! Out in the gulf, it was more like three-to-fours, but my hardy anglers persisted, and we got out 22 miles west of New Pass, where we fished with squid and cut-bait. The guys boxed two dozen keeper lane snapper to 14 inches, along with a few grunts, and they released a dozen red grouper shorts.

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