Rough waters inshore
Another windy day, as were the several before it, and I encountered three- to four-foot seas even at the near-shore reefs where I fished with Sandy Hook, sons-in-law Ryan Abbot and Matt Ball, and grandchildren Nathaniel Ball, age 13, and Emmit Ball, age 10.
We caught a keeper sheepshead, a large grunt and five keeper Spanish mackerel, all about 20 inches, before calling it a morning, taking a rough ride back in.
Angler Margie Harned holds up the beautiful ornamental fish she caught and released on a recent offshore FB charter. This was originally identified it as a “rock beauty,” but an aquarium buff buddy tells me it’s a blue angel fish.
Thursday morning, we played it safe and stayed inshore, as the winds continued to blow hard. Mike Curran and son, John, and father-son team, Don and Dan Bernardi fished central Estero Bay with me, using live shrimp. We caught an 18-inch trout, a 19-inch pompano, three keeper sheepshead and a keeper mangrove snapper.
Friday morning, as yet another windy front roared through, I fished Estero Bay with Jeff Reichle and friend, Warren.
We caught four keeper-sized sheepshead to 15 inches and a 21-inch keeper redfish, releasing two small snook at 18 inches and 22 inches.
Playing it safe
I had planned to fish offshore Saturday, but seas were too rough. When the winds are this high, even back-bay fishing is challenging, so I scrapped Saturday's fishing plans and remained in port.
Close but no cigar
Monday 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 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, Griffin.
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 19.5 inches, so we had to release him, along with gag shorts, Spanish mackerel and blue runners.
Not too shabby
Keith Erickson and friends fished central Estero Bay 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.