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SW FL-Bonita Beach: Good Riddance to...

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SW FL-Bonita Beach: Good Riddance to Red Tide
Fishing was tough Saturday morning, 8/11/18, when I headed out 24 miles west of New Pass with Darren Rachman, his brother, Mark, and a couple of their friends. I fished in spots that had been productive several times this week, but the bite was pretty slow everywhere we went. There were some rain storms around us, but we managed to stay mostly dry. The guys used cut-bait and squid to catch and red grouper shorts and a lane snapper.

The bite was a little more active on Tuesday, 8/14, when I fished 18 miles west of New Pass with Mark Lenhart, his son, and two of his son’s friends. The group used squid to catch and box ten grunts, all measuring between 12 and 14 inches, and they released red grouper shorts.

After two weeks off the water, with this entire area suffering from red tide, I ventured out Monday, 8/27 to explore the waters and check conditions. Red tide was bad in close-in waters, with dead fish abundant out to five miles. The further I went out, the less dead fish were evident, but red tide was still visible as far out as 26 miles, and fishing was, well, not really fishing at all, since there was absolutely nothing biting. I had hoped for better conditions out that far. All we could do was wait it out, hoping our state and federal officials would do all that is possible to alleviate this problem, or hope for some early cold-fronts to rescue us.

Meanwhile, my wife and I planned a trip to Colorado to visit family, returned, and endured more red tide, until signs that it was starting to dissipate cheered us up and brought us some fishing trips. When Hurricane Michael roared through the panhandle, the winds we got here helped push the remaining red tide away from us. We also realize that our red tide issues were nothing compared with what the residents of Panama City and surrounding area had to deal with.

On Thursday, 10/4, I fished inshore in Estero Bay’s backwaters with Don Lubbehusen, his son, Ben, and friend, Justin Bayer. The guys used live shrimp to catch and release fifteen crevalle jacks to 13 inches, ten mangrove snapper to 11 inches, a 20-inch snook, and four sheepshead to 15 inches. It was good to see clear water and fish biting, at long last.

Saturday, 10/6, I fished in Estero Bay’s backwaters, from the lower bay to Wiggins Pass, with Derek Spradling and his friend, Kurt. The guys used live shrimp to catch two black drum at 14 inches and 17 inches, a dozen mangrove snapper including two keepers at 11 inches, and three keeper sheepshead to 13 inches. The best catch of the day was a 27 ½-inch redfish, which we photographed (see pic included) and released. We also released ten crevalle jacks to 18 inches, a 16-inch snook, and a two-pound stingray.

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