Saltwater Fishing in SW FL-Naples, Bonita, Ft. Myers Beach
Fishbuster Charters, Bonita Beach, FL
Cap't Dave Hanson
"They hatch 'em--We catch 'em!"
Who Ya Gonna Call? Fishbuster!
copyright: Fishbuster Charters, Inc. (Marti Hanson)
Multi-Month Fishing Report
Sushi at its freshest! (just kidding)
(239) 947-1688 (8AM--8PM daily)
Click on any species link below to view pics of that particular species. Click on recent pics to see a variety of catches over the past three months.
February 1, 2019--May 22, 2019
Craig and Jan Royal and their son, Dan, along with Craig's dad, Ron, fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Monday, 2/4/19. The family used live shrimp to catch four nice, keeper sheepshead, two at 14 inches and two at 17 inches. They also caught a keeper, 12-inch mangrove snapper.
George and Diane Van Der Linden, jointed by their son and daughter-in-law, Drew and Amanda, fished near-shore at the reefs with me on Friday morning, 2/15. We used frozen shrimp and squid, and caught mostly small stuff for a while, including some grunts, lane snapper, and bait-fish. We were thinking it was going to be kind of a slow morning when, all of a sudden, something big grabbed George's shrimp. That turned out to be a 40-inch cobia, the first one I have seen in a good while, and good for many nice cobia steaks.
Robin Latham and his seven-year-old grandson, Dylan, fished southern Estero Bay with me on Monday morning, 2/18. They used live shrimp to catch sixteen sheepshead, and kept the ten largest of those, all between 14 and 18 inches. They also released four ladyfish, a crevalle jack, and a 17-inch redfish.
Gary Zwicky and his friend, Shocky, fished the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with me on Tuesday morning, 2/5. They used live shrimp to catch four sheepshead, two of which were 15-inch keepers, along with one keeper mangrove snapper.
I fished offshore for the first time in a good while on Wednesday, 2/6. Scott Cooper and Gary Haugen used squid and cut-bait 36 miles west of New Pass to catch a good variety of fish. They released thirty-eight red grouper shorts to 19 inches, along with a 20-inch gag grouper, a yellowtail snapper short, and a brace of 15-inch triggerfish. They boxed a half dozen nice sized grunts, along with six porgies in the 14-inch to 15-inch range, and two keeper lane snapper. They also caught and released a two-foot long remora that was hitchhiking on a shark that ate a fish we had on the line.
Craig Kinnick and two of his friends fished 24 miles west of New Pass with me on Thursday morning, 2/7, using squid and cut-bait. The bite was a little slow, but they caught enough grunts to take him for fish tacos, and they released several red grouper shorts and a lot of baitfish, such as sand perch and squirrel-fish.
Friday morning, 2/8, long-time customers, Robin Latham and Chris Welch, fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me, using live shrimp. They caught four sheepshead, including three keepers from 13 inches to 18 inches, and released a ladyfish.
Neil and Jayne Muschett fished near-shore with me, thirteen miles west of New Pass, on a windy Monday morning, 2/11. The couple used squid to box fifteen good-sized grunts, perfect for the fish tacos they had planned. They released two red grouper shorts, along with a brace of five-pound goliath groupers.
Danny and Mary Walter fished 24 miles offshore with me on Tuesday morning, 2/12. They used squid to box sixteen large grunts, and released half a dozen red grouper shorts, before the winds and seas kicked up and we called it a day.
Friends, Daniel Prischmann, Sharon Johnson, and Lyle Crider fished the backwaters of south Estero Bay with me on Valentines' day morning, 2/14. The group used live shrimp to catch eleven sheepshead, including seven keepers to 16 inches.
George Sloan II, his son George III, grandson George IV, and family friend, Mark Sommerville, fished in southern Estero Bay with me on Saturday morning, 2/16. The guys used live shrimp to catch a dozen sheepshead, including seven keepers in the 13 to 16-inch range. They also caught a 24-inch Spanish mackerel, and released a 14-inch bluefish.
Danny and Mary Walter, who fished offshore with me last Tuesday, decided to try some backwater fishing on Tuesday morning, 2/19. The couple did very well using live shrimp to catch nine keeper sheepshead to 18 inches. They released eight smaller ones, along with four ladyfish. They also caught two nice pompano, both about 17 inches.
Roy Mittman, who usually fishes offshore with me, fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters instead, along with his friend, Rich Borgatti, on Wednesday morning, 2/20. Seas offshore were forecast to be three to four feet, so the bay seemed like a much better option. It proved to be fruitful: The guys used live shrimp to catch fifteen sheepshead, including six keepers to 19 inches. They caught a 17-inch pompano, and they released a 19-inch redfish (due to the current moratorium on harvesting redfish.")
Long-time customers, Craig and Jan Royal, joined by their brother-in-law and his wife, Curt and Barbara Claassen, fished 31 miles offshore with me on Thursday, 2/21. We had a great day—the best offshore day in a while—and the group caught a nice variety of fish. Using shrimp, they caught seven keeper mangrove snapper to 16 inches, along with fifteen yellowtail snapper that included a 14-inch keeper. Using cut-bait, they caught a mess of fifteen grunts, all around 12 inches, one keeper-sized sheepshead, and five nice porgies—unfortunately a shark helped himself to the biggest porgy, leaving us to reel in only its head. The group also caught two keeper porkfish, including the biggest porkfish I have ever seen, at 17 ¼ inches.
Gary Hourselt and his dad, Richard, fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Friday morning, 2/22. Using live shrimp, the guys caught a dozen keeper sheepshead, with two of the largest measuring 19 inches. They released eight smaller sheepshead, along with a nearly 19-inch redfish.
Dr. Meir Daller, his wife, Rie, their two sons, Julian and Brenden, and a friend of the boys', Joey, fished 33 miles west of New Pass with me on Saturday. They used frozen shrimp and squid to catch a brace of 15-inch porgies, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and a dozen good-size grunts. The winning catch was a 50-inch, 60 pound cobia, which bit on a small grunt. There were three cobia around the boat, and Meir managed to land the largest of the three. We also released an 8-foot sandbar shark.
Monday, 2/25, brothers Ed and Fred Armstrong had planned to fish offshore with me. A weather front came through the area over-night, however, and kicked up winds to about 25 knots, with very rough conditions offshore. So the guys decided to fish in Estero Bay's backwaters instead. Even the bay was challenging for fishing that morning. The tide which was supposed to turn around at 9AM, never did so, and the wind was sucking the water out of the bay. The guys managed to catch eight sheepshead, on live shrimp, but only one was a keeper at 13 inches. The rest of the sheepies were about ½-inch short of keeper-size, and had to be released. The guys also released a crevalle jack.
It was just a little less windy on Tuesday morning, 2/26, than it had been the day before. I fished the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with Charles Vanenbossche, his brother, Brian, and their parents, Mike and Sandy. The family caught eleven sheepshead, including four keepers, on live shrimp. They lost three or four others when the hook pulled out, as they sometimes do when sheepshead are hooked in the lip.
Wednesday morning, 2/27, I returned to the south end of Estero Bay, this time to fish with Dennis Mascioli and his friends, Vince and Gary on a catch-and-release trip. The sheepshead bite was slower than it has been recently, but the guys released four sheepies to 14 inches, and lost one redfish to a broken line.
Long-time customers, Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonso, and Dick Arnett fished 33 miles offshore with me on Thursday, 2/28. The guys used cut bait and squid to catch twenty nice porgies to 24 inches, along with three keeper lane snapper and a few grunts.
Dave Carr and his friends, Chuck and Wayne, fished 20 miles offshore with me on Friday morning, March 1st. They used frozen shrimp and squid to catch twenty-five grunts to 14 inches, and put a dozen of those in the fish box for fish tacos. They released the rest, along with several ladyfish, four red grouper shorts, two lane snapper shorts and one mangrove snapper short.
Frequent customer, Mike Connealy, fished 33 miles west of New Pass with me on Monday, 3/4. The winds had picked up over the weekend, and we had some hefty swells heading out, along with some choppy seas for a while. The big porgies were biting, but the goliath grouper were competing with us for those, and they got the largest of them. Still, we managed to box seven nice porgies to 18 inches, and we released four smaller ones. We added a keeper lane snapper to the box. We also released one short yellowtail snapper, a small sheepshead, and one red grouper short.
Fishing was really tough in Estero Bay Tuesday morning, 3/5, when I fished with Gary Hourselt and his son, Nick. The father-son team had fished the backwaters with me before, and had done well with catching large sheepshead. They had planned to fish offshore this time, but a weather front that resulted in small craft advisories nixed that plan. So we headed into southern Estero Bay for a catch and release trip that yielded little more than small sheepshead in wind and tide conditions that were far from ideal.
Wednesday and Thursday, 3/6 and 3/7, brought a cold front with s,mall craft advisories offshore, dead-low tides in the bay, and frigid mornings. Both of those planned offshore trips cancelled. So, it was Friday before I got back on the water. Mike and Bethany Tank fished offshore with me on Friday, 3/8, the first day in a while that has been calm enough to head offshore. We still experienced some choppy seas at first, but it calmed down nicely in the afternoon. Using shrimp, the couple fished 33 miles west of New Pass, and had a productive day. They caught ten porgies, all 14 inches to 18 inches, and three king mackerel, including two at 29 inches and one at 42 inches. We also got into some lesser amberjacks, catching and releasing five of those to 25 inches, and we spotted a huge amberjack, about five foot long. We also released a half-dozen yellowtail snapper shorts.
Mike Jansen and extended family members, Chris and his young son, Colton, and Matt and his young daughter, Lily, fished 19 miles west of New Pass with me on a pretty calm morning offshore on Monday, 3/11. The family had fun catching grunts on shrimp, and boxed over twenty of those, around 12 inches. They released a dozen red grouper shorts.
Sandy Mintz treated his grandson, Tyler Karkowski, to a catch-and-release, backwater fishing trip in southern Estero Bay on Tuesday, 3/12.They used live shrimp to catch and release an 18-inch snook, a crevalle jack, and five sheepshead to nearly 15 inches.
It was extremely windy on Wednesday, 3/13, and seas were predicted to be two-to-three feet close to shore, but I knew they would be rougher than that. Ian McKinnon and family said they didn't mind braving rough seas, having fished many rough days on the Great Lakes. So, we headed out to seven miles over rocky bottom so the kids could have fun at least catching a mess of grunts. The used squid to catch twenty-two of those, which was plenty for fish tacos!
Thursday, 3/14, was way too rough to head offshore with my planned trip, and I remained in port. Friday morning, 3/15, winds were only slightly calmer, and there was light rain for a couple hours, but Mark Ginnard and friends decided to brave it offshore anyway. We couldn't get out too far, due to rough seas, and our near-shore catches included grunts and blue runners-not a whole lot to brag about. But everyone had fun catching and releasing what was there, using squid for bait.
A weather front moved through the area overnight Sunday, causing winds and seas to kick up again, and forcing Kristen Leesman, her parents, on and Cathy, and her fiancé, Tom McGuire to change their offshore plansMonday, 3/18, to inshore fishing instead. The family used live shrimp in southern Estero Bay to catch and release a brace of 20-inch snook, along with a crevalle jack. They boxed ten keeper mangrove snapper to 12 inches.
After a rainy, windy, chilly day on Tuesday, which caused me to cancel my scheduled fishing trip, Paul Stanek, his brother, Rich, and Rich's wife, Jill, fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Wednesday morning, 3/20. The family used live shrimp to catch eight keeper sheepshead to 20 inches and a 14-inch black drum. They boxed the four largest sheepshead and released everything else.
Friends of long-time customer Joe Hahn, Darren, Greg and Spencer, fished on a very windy Thursday, 3/21, with me in southern Estero Bay, on a catch-and-release trip, using live shrimp. They guys released fifteen sheepshead to 18 inches, along with a mangrove snapper and an 18-inch sailcat.
Bill & Terry Tank, frequent and long-time customers, fished southern Estero Bay with me on Friday morning, 3/22, using live shrimp for bait. They caught five sheepshead, including two keepers to 17 inches, and two black drum, including one keeper at 15 inches. Terry landed a 19-inch redfish, which would have been a keeper, if not for the current moratorium on harvesting redfish.
Saturday morning, 3/23, I fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with Tom Weid and his son, John. The guys caught thirteen sheepshead on live shrimp, including eight keepers from 13 inches to 18 inches.
Seas were a little sloppy heading offshore Monday, 3/25, for a catch-and-release trip with Craig Javanovich, his two sons, and his dad. But it calmed down a little while into the morning fishing 19 miles west of New Pass. The family used squid to catch forty grunts, three red grouper shorts, five lane snapper shorts, and some blue runners.
Calm seas were a welcome change on Tuesday, morning, 3/26, when I headed out 18 miles west of New Pass with Frank Partee, his son, Mike, and Mike's daughter, Katie. All the family wanted was some fish for a meal of fish tacos, and they achieved that with the seven grunts they boxed. They released lots of blue runners, along with a half dozen red grouper shorts. Everything bit on squid.
Denis Delor, his two sons, Mason and Jake, and his dad, Barry, had planned to fish offshore on Wednesday morning, 3/27, but small craft advisories were in effect offshore, due to seas of three-to-five feet. We fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters instead, using live shrimp for bait. The family caught five keeper sheepshead to 17 inches, a keeper black drum at 15 inches, and two sand bream. They released a crevalle jack.
Thursday and Friday, 3/28 and 3/29 were both windy days with rough seas offshore that prompted a small craft advisory. Both of my planned offshore trips for those days canceled. On Saturday, 3/30, I fished southern Estero Bay's backwaters with Roger Henderson, his son, Steve, and friend, Jack Brennen. The guys used live shrimp to catch eight sheepshead, including four keepers to 17 inches. Jack caught and released a 19-inch redfish, which would have been a keeper if not for the current redfish moratorium.
Monday, April 1st, I fished offshore with frequent customer, Mike Connealy and his son-in-law, Brett Ewig. We headed out 33 miles west of New Pass, with shrimp and squid. There were some goliath grouper and sharks harassing some of our would-be catches, but we did well in spite of them. The guys caught five keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches and released nine short mangs, along with a short yellowtail snapper. They added to the box two keeper lane snapper and ten nice keeper porgies to 23 inches. They released a dozen red grouper shorts to 18 inches, and also had a three-foot kingfish on the line for a bit, but it cut the line right at the boat.
George Sloan wanted to take his son and young grandchildren offshore Tuesday morning, 4/2, to fish for whatever the kids could catch. George, his son Rob, and grandchildren Logan, Lara and Max, used squid 19 miles west of New Pass to catch and box four good-sized grunts to 14 inches, and they released lots of blue runners, a 14-inch triggerfish, a red grouper short, and some tomtates and squirrelfish.
A weather front arrived overnight Tuesday, and winds were howling Wednesday morning, 4/3. The bay wasn't a very good option, since the front caused dead low tides there, so Mike Gambino and his three friends decided to try the gulf. NOAA had forecast seas of two to three feet, but it was way rougher than that, with steady 4-footers and occasionally worse than that. We ventured no further than the local reefs off Bonita Beach. Fishing was tough, but the guys managed to catch eight grunts on squid-enough for fish tacos-and they released lots of blue runners.
Another weather front brought rough seas and small craft advisories for the end of last week, and I had to cancel a couple of planned offshore trips. I was back on the water Saturday, 4/6, with Dr. Meir Daller and his son, Brenden, who fished 34 miles west of New Pass. Fishing was kind of slow, at least for keepers, but the guys caught and released plenty of red grouper shorts to 18 inches-twenty of those. They did catch a nice keeper mangrove snapper at 16 inches, and one keeper lane snapper that was nearly 13 inches, along with four 12-inch grunts, all on squid.
High winds and rough seas were again a problem the week of 4/8. I had to cancel several offshore trips. I fished inshore on Friday morning, 4/12, in southern Estero Bay with John Abernathy and his son, Ryan. The tide was slow, and the action wasn't great. The guys caught and released three sheepshead to 12 inches, using live shrimp for bait.
Southern Estero Bay's action was about the same on Saturday morning, 4/13, as it had been on Friday. Phil and Jill Binotti and Jill's daughter, Kristen, used live shrimp to catch and release five sheepshead shorts to 11 inches, along with five juvenile mutton snappers. One big redfish was hooked, but was lost under the trees.
After high winds and seas for several consecutive days, I got back o out offshore on Wednesday, 4/17, and fished 20 miles west of New Pass with Troy Reazin and his three sons. The guys used squid and cut-bait to catch fifteen grunts, ten of which they boxed for fish tacos. They released five red grouper shorts and lots of blue runners.
Thursday, 4/18, was windy again, and I fished inshore in southern Estero Bay with Ed Knapp and his thirteen-year-old grandson, Austin. They used live shrimp to catch five sheepshead, including a 13-inch keeper, and two 11-inch keeper mangrove snapper. They released two crevalle jacks, about 12 inches each and two 18-inch sail-cats
Weather was a problem again on Friday morning, 4/19. Peyton Amato, his dad, and his two cousins had planned to fish offshore, but rough seas prevented that, so they decided to cut their planned full-day, gulf trip to a half-day, and fish in the bay instead. We managed to catch an incoming tide, and the guys used live shrimp to catch a few keepers, including two 16-inch black drum and a 12-inch mangrove snapper. They caught a half dozen sheepshead too, but all of those were just short of keeper size and were released. About an hour sooner than we'd planned to head in, the rains, which had been light and scattered grew heavy, and we headed back to safe harbor.
Wind, wind, wind, and more wind! That describes our weather pattern lately. Monday, 4/22, was predicted to be calm, after a couple weeks prior of mostly strong winds and rough seas. But long-time customer Roy Mittman and his son, Zack, who headed offshore with me Monday quickly decided that 18 miles would be far enough, since seas were choppy even that close-in. The guys used squid to box a half-dozen grunts and four 11-inch lane snapper. They released two short lanes, along with six red grouper shorts, two ladyfish, and three crevalle jacks that were all around two pounds.
Ann Heck, accompanied by her two young grandsons, Carter and Jackson, and by daughter's boyfriend, Dane, fished 19 miles west of New Pass with me on Tuesday morning, 4/23. Using squid, the family boxed six keeper grunts and two keeper lane snapper. They released lots more grunts, along with a 19-inch goliath grouper, five short lane snapper, and five crevalle jacks that were all around two pounds. Lines were cut twice by sharks, but we didn't get to see what kind they were.
Wednesday morning, 4/24, I fished a catch-and-release trip in southern Estero Bay with LeAnn Russell, her son, Aubrey, and Aubrey's girlfriend, Lindsey. The group used live shrimp to catch and release three sheepshead to 12 inches, three sailcats all about 18 inches, and eight short mangrove snapper. Lindsey had a redfish on, but jerked the line a little too hard, and lost it. Water conditions weren't ideal, muddied by the nearby dredging and a lot of floating grass.
Thursday, 4/25, was not at all what was predicted, and was not a stellar day of fishing. In advance of a weather front approaching the area Friday, NOAA had forecast two-foot seas, but I encountered three-to-four footers, fishing between 19n and 28 miles west of New Pass with frequent customer, Ron Musick and several of his friends and family. Fishing was extremely slow—I am not sure what was going on, but we released close to a hundred squirrel fish, and only caught one 20-inch Spanish mackerel, a keeper lane snapper and some grunts.
At the end of April, nearly all our winter-time residents headed back to their northern homes, and there was little demand for fishing trips. That will likely change for the better as families with children out-of-school for summer begin to head to our beach areas for vacation.
Wednesday, 5/15, was the next time I got out on the water. I fished southern Estero Bay with repeat customer, Gary Hourselt, and his brother, Pete. They used live shrimp to catch three keeper black drum to 17 inches, two keeper mangrove snapper both in the 11-to12-inch range, and a keeper, 13-inch sheepshead. They released a few mangrove snapper shorts and a few sheepshead shorts.
My next excursion was on Wednesday, 5/22, when I headed offshore to 35 miles west of New Pass with Mike Wething, his sons, Mike Jr. and Dave, and friend, Nick Hugher. With squid, cut-bait, and shiners for bait, the guys caught a nice variety of keeper fish. They caught five keeper vermillion snappers, all 11-to-12 inches long, six keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, six keeper yellowtail snapper, five keeper lane snapper, a dozen keeper grunts to 15 inches, and a dozen keeper porgies. They released two 17-inch red grouper shorts, nine yellowtail shorts, and eight mangrove snapper shorts.