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SW FL-Bonita Beach: January Wrap-up

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SW FL-Bonita Beach: January Wrap-up
On Monday, 1/14, I headed offshore with Bill Conklin and his two friends, Mark and Susan. NOAA had forecast seas of two to three feet well offshore, but even out just eighteen miles from New Pass, we encountered seas of three to four feet. We didnít head out any further than that, due to rough conditions. The group used cut-bait and squid to box a dozen grunts, and released a red grouper short and a remora.

Thursday, 1/17, I headed out about 22 miles from New Pass with long-time customers Ron Musick and Eddie Alfonso. The seas were calming down, after a few days of rough ones, but it was still a little choppy. The guys used cut-bait and squid to box fourteen nice porgies to 14 inches, along with a mess of grunts. They released a few red grouper shorts, along with fifteen yellowtail snapper shorts and one short mangrove snapper.

Frequent customers Mike and Clint Connealy fished well offshore with me on Friday, 1/18, in spots ranging from 35 to 40 miles west of New Pass. The father-son anglers used squid and cut-bait to catch and release 31 red grouper shorts, and they boxed ten porgies to 15 inches, and released an equal amount, having no need to keep that many fish. They added to the fish box one keeper yellowtail snapper.

Saturday morning, 1/19, seas began to build ahead of another cold front due to arrive Sunday into Monday. It was choppy 19 miles west of New Pass, where I fished with Allison Kelly, her boyfriend, Dan, and her parents, Kerry and Kevin Kelly. The group used squid and cut-bait to box a dozen nice grunts and a keeper lane snapper. They released thirteen red grouper shorts, a few sand perch, and a 13-inch triggerfish.

High winds and rough seas, ushering in the next cold front to hit our area, caused Randy Mueller and his son, Coby, to exchange their offshore fishing plans for backwater fishing on Friday, 1/25. We fished southern Estero Bay, using live shrimp, and the guys caught five sheepshead, including three keepers at 13 inches, 14 inches and 17 inches. They also boxed a 20-inch seatrout, the first seatrout I have seen in a good while See photo.)

After many days of rough seas, NOAA forecasted calmer seas on Tuesday, 1/29. But, Joe Kovach and his dad, Paul, didnít trust the forecast, and neither did I, after seeing that seas were very rough the previous day, and predicted to get back to 4 feet on Wednesday. So the guys decided to fish the backwaters instead. We fished an outgoing tide in southern Estero Bay, using live shrimp. The guys caught five sheepshead, including three keepers to 16 inches.

Steve and Beth Wilson, joined by their friends, Steve and Judy Sonda, fished southern Estero BayĎs backwaters with me on Thursday, 1/31. The sheepshead bite was on and, using live shrimp, the group caught fourteen keeper sheepshead to 19 inches.