After several consecutive days of rough seas offshore, I was glad to hear forecasts of two- to four-foot seas Wednesday. I headed to the near-shore reefs with Chuck Neumann and friends for a morning of fishing.
Unfortunately, those seas were on top of a four- to five-foot swell left over from Tuesday night's stormy conditions. Fishing was only fair, and we managed four keeper mangrove snapper, a keeper trout, a keeper whiting and grunts, all on shrimp.
Angler Jerry Casey holds up a pair of mangrove snapper, 17 inches and 18 inches, he caught on shrimp while on a recent offshore Fishbuster Charter. Photo courtesy of MARTI HANSON
Much better conditions
Thursday, we finally caught a break in the rough seas and had two- to three-footers mostly, even out to 65 feet, where I fished with Ron Musick, his son, Mike, and friends, Richard Arnett and Eddie Alfonso.
We caught a keeper gag at 23 inches, having the line cut by a bigger one, and released lots of gag shorts.
Lots of keeper mangrove snapper were caught to 15 inches, keeper yellowtail, keeper lane snapper and whitebone porgies, all on live shrimp and pinfish.
First-time fishing for the kids
Friday, as winds picked up to about 20 knots again, I fished central Estero Bay with Jim Novy and three of his young children, Jimmy, Jordan and Jackie.
The littlest novice was still too small to go this year. The three who did go had never been on a boat before, and they had a great time catching mangrove snapper to 12 inches, releasing small snook. Jim caught the daddy-sized fish: a nice 25-inch redfish, on shrimp.
Rough seas again
What a difference a day makes. Conditions in Estero Bay were far from ideal Saturday morning when I fished with Bill Keefer and friends. The winds were out of the north-northwest, the water was shallow, and the tide never came in. We fought wind, tide and boat traffic to catch and release a few snook and sheepshead.
The trip was originally planned for offshore, but with small-craft caution in effect, winds of 15 to 21 knots and seas of three to five feet beyond 20 miles, I wasn't believing the two-to-three foot predictions for near-shore.
Early Monday, I made the mistake of believing the predictions for two- to three-foot seas near-shore, with winds calm first thing in the morning. I headed to the Wiggins five-mile reef with Tom and Dawn Wolfe and their son, Jordan.
At about 9:30 a.m., the wind picked up to about 15 knots and the seas ahead of the weather front moving in kicked up to four and five feet. The fishing near-shore was almost as slow as it had been in the backwaters Saturday, but we managed four keeper mangrove snapper and a couple of grunts, releasing red and gag grouper shorts and a couple of spadefish.
Hopefully, this approaching front might be the last of the season and we can begin to get into some calm water and good summer-time fishing.
With rain and more wind moving in Monday night, I deferred Tuesday's offshore trip to Thursday, hoping for less wind and better conditions then.