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)
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.
July 1, 2021--January 4, 2023
Friday, 7/1, I fished twenty miles offshore with Brian Fuller and family and friends. Using squid, the group caught and released two dozen red grouper shorts to 19 inches, and two yellowtail snapper shorts. They boxed a dozen grunts and a keeper lane snapper.
Mario and Nancy Quiroz, joined by their son, James Quiroz, fished in southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Monday, 7/18, using live shrimp. The family caught a nice variety and quantity of fish, including seven keeper mangrove snapper, all around 11 inches, four sand bream,five sheepshead to 12 inches, five permit 13 to 14 inches, two snook at 16 and 18 inches, two crevalle jacks, and two redfish at 20 inches and 26 inches. They released the shorts and out-of-season catches, along with most of the others, keeping only the snapper for dinner.
Stacey Beals, her husband, their young daughter, Colleen, and Stacey's father-in-law, fished offshore with me on Tuesday, 7/19. It was one of those days that, despite a NOAA forecast for one-to-two-foot seas, it was rough heading out. We made it as far as 15 miles, and decided not to head out any further. Colleen was a little trooper, even though conditions weren't the best. The family used squid to catch fifteen grunts, which they boxed for fish tacos. They released two short red grouper and a 13-inch triggerfish.
Mario, Nancy, and James Quiroz, who fished inshore with me on Monday, fished offshore with me on Wednesday, 7/20. They had a great day catching a variety of nice fish, using squid and cut-bait 35 miles west of New Pass. They caught five keeper vermillion snapper all in the 12 to 13-inch range, and released five smaller ones. They added to the box five keeper yellowtail snapper ranging from 13 inches to 20 inches, and released ten smaller ones. They boxed seven keeper lane snapper, and released five lane shorts. They released ten mangrove snapper shorts. Seven keeper lanes completed the snapper haul, with an additional five lane shorts released. The family caught thirty grunts, and kept seven of those that were all about 14 inches. As for grouper, they caught and released fifty-some red grouper shorts all the way to 21 inches, just an inch-shy of legal size. They also caught and released a 27-inch bonito.
Jordan Clark, joined by friends, Steve and David, fished 22 miles west of New Pass with me on Thursday morning, 7/21. They used squid to catch seventeen keeper lane snapper, all in the 12 to 13-inch range. They added four grunts to the fish box. They released a dozen red grouper shorts, two yellowtail shorts, and two blacknose sharks at 38 and 39 inches.
Ryan and Anne Thurston, their son, Calder, and their daughter, Arabel, fished the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with me on Tuesday morning, 7/26. The family used live shrimp to catch a variety of fish. They caught and released two barracuda, each about 18 inches, and kind of an unusual catch for the bay. They caught fifteen mangrove snapper, including four keepers, along with three sand bream and a 17-inch permit. They released an 11-inch sheepshead, as well as two redfish that were 19 inches and 21 inches.
Nick and Hillary Madsen and their two young daughters, Kelly and Scarlett, fished a catch-and-release trip in southern Estero Bay's backwaters with me on Tuesday, 8/2. Using live shrimp, the family released a 20-inch barracuda, an18-inch redfish, six mangrove snapper to 11 inches, one sheepshead, and an 18-inch snook.
Nick Madsen returned on Wednesday morning, 8/3, this time for a guys' only offshore trip with his dad, Jim. We fished 23 miles west of New Pass, using squid for bait. The guys caught a total of two dozen red grouper, including two keepers at 21 inches and 23 inches. They boxed fourteen keeper lane snapper to 12 inches, and released ten short lanes. They added nine grunts to the fish box before calling it a day as the scalding afternoon temperatures set in.
Richard Garner wanted to get his son, Jackson, out fishing before school started back up this week. They had planned to fish offshore, but Monday's seas were 3 feet, even close-in, so they swapped their offshore plans for inshore fishing in southern Estero Bay. Using live shrimp, they caught six sheepshead, including one keeper, along with fifteen mangrove snapper, including three keepers. They also released a sand bream, two mutton snapper shorts, and an 18-inch barracuda.
Aaron Matlock, Dave Schorrenberg, and Jack Eaves had planned to fish offshore on Friday morning, 9/9/22, but there were stormy conditions offshore, so they opted to fish inshore in the backwaters of southern Estero Bay. They used live shrimp to catch and release a brace of 15-inch snook. They also caught eight mangrove snapper, including two keepers, a 13-inch sand bream, and three keeper sheepshead, all about 14 inches. The catch of the day was Jack's 25-inch redfish.
Hurricane Ian blasted through our area on September 28th, with fury we have never seen in past storms. Its surge of 7.5 feet here in our location, wiped out nearly everything, and did damage to both of our boats. The inshore (bay) boat remains in the shop for repairs, but we have managed to get the offshore (gulf) boat up and running. I ventured out in that boat today, 11/4/22, for the first time since the storm, with Jeff Flemington and three of his friends. As luck would have it, after a period of time with calm winds and seas following the storm, the winds picked up to 15 to 20 knots for today, and seas were choppy. Between that and the fact that debris still litters our waterways, it was slow heading out to the Spring, and we ventured no further than that. The guys had fun using squid to catch and release some good-sized blue runners, which are known for fighting hard. But that was about all that was biting that close in. We saw abundant live turtles, which was an encouraging sight-much more encouraging than the destruction we observed on the way out. Hogue channel is littered with cars and trailers, along with much other assorted debris. In other potentially bad news, I did observe an algae bloom, brownish in color, and probably predictive of red tide, which is moving south from the Sarasota area. It is good to be back on the water, but it will take a while before things normalize. I have a few gulf trips planned for this month and, on calmer days, I will be able to venture out further and hope for some better variety of fish, along with lessening debris and gradual normalization of the habitat.
Having not tested the boat again since that nearshore run on 11/4, long-time customer and friend, Mike Connealy, along with his brother, Paul, consented to do a catch-and-release trip with me on Tuesday, 11/15, to scope out the red tide, as well as conditions well offshore to 36 miles west of New Pass, which is the farthest reach thee offshore boat has gone since we recovered it after Ian. Fortunately, the boat ran well, though its gel coat still doesn't look too pretty in spots. We did see red tide nearshore and out to about 20 miles, where we saw lots of dead bait-fish. Further out, around the 36 mile spot, we had good success. Most of what we caught, using squid, would have had to be released anyway due to being shorts or out-of-season, such as the twenty-five keeper-sized lane snapper, with their season now closed. Likewise for the 23-inch red grouper. A 22-inch gag grouper was a couple inches short of keeper-size, and an 18-inch black grouper was also short. The only potential keepers we released were fifteen grunts in the 13-to-14-inch range, and three 14-inch yellowtail snapper.
On Friday, 11/25, I fished in various spots to 18 miles west of New Pass with Jerry Jenkins and his grandson, Lucas. They used squid to catch and release a dozen keeper-sized, but out-of-season lane snapper to 14 inches, along with three triggerfish to 14 inches. They also released seven red grouper shorts to 18 inches, as well as a 16-inch gag grouper. As for fish tacos, fourteen keeper grunts to 12-inches saved the day. I spotted a red tide bloom about six miles off the beach, right around the artificial reefs, but saw none of that further out.
Saturday morning, 11/26, I fished a8 miles west of New Pass with Jeff and Beth Heimrich, their son Tanner, daughter Maddie, and Uncle John. They used squid to catch and release twelve triggerfish shorts to 14 ½ inches, three lane snapper, and an 18-pound goliath grouper. They boxed twenty-five nice sized grunts.
I ventured out 19 miles west of New Pass on Tuesday, 12/6, on a sight-seeing/exploratory/ occasional fishing trip with Erwin and Millie Metusiak. The Metusiaks have gone out with me for years, but always in the bay (inshore.) Since my bay boat remains in the shop, undergoing repairs since Hurricane Ian, Irwin and Millie decided to head offshore with me in calm waters, mostly to see what the waterways are like post-storm. Dolphin were everywhere (which usually means fish aren't!) I did have some frozen squid onboard, so we did immerse a line or two, and released a half dozen grunts, a dozen small red grouper, a 12-inch triggerfish, and a bunch of squirrelfish. Keeper-sized lane snapper were abundant, but are currently out-of-season. We saw some red tide, close-in, but none beyond five or six miles. We also saw a lot of debris still littering the trees along the bay and even to about a mile offshore.
On Saturday morning, 12/10, I fished in spots between seventeen and twenty miles west of New Pass with Matt Burris. We used squid to catch and release a dozen lane snapper, eight of which would have been keepers at about 12 inches each, if it were not for closed season. We also released fifteen red grouper shorts. Seven grunts made their way into the fish box, destined for fish tacos.
Ingel Merz and his two sons, Matt and Max, fished with me a few years ago, but have not been back for a while, due to the pandemic. They fished offshore with me on Tuesday, 12/13, in spots ranging from 28 to 36 miles west of New Pass, using squid for bait. They boxed thirty grunts, all about 14 inches, and released an equal number. They added to the fish box five mangrove snapper keepers at 13 to 14 inches, and one 14-inch porgy. As for releases, there were a dozen red grouper to 20 inches, which are currently out-of-season a half dozen lane snapper to 12 inches also out of season, two yellowtail snapper shorts, three lesser amberjacks all around 16 inches, and a nine-pound goliath grouper.
Mike Connealy, a long-time customer, usually fishes offshore, but with seas of three to five feet on Wednesday, 12/28, he changed plans to fish a catch-and-release trip in southern Estero Bay. Using shrimp, we caught thirty sheepshead to 17-inches, a dozen of which were keeper-size, though we released them all. Mike also released a 17-inch seatrout.
Matt Burris and his friend, Frank Mullaney, fished southern Estero Bay with me on a catch-and-release trip Thursday morning, 12/29, using shrimp for bait. They caught five black drum to 6 inches and 25 sheepshead to 15 inches, including eight potential keepers. They also released a 12-inch mangrove snapper, a pufferfish, and a ladyfish.
The first fishing excursion of the New Year was on Monday, 1/2/23, when I fished offshore, in spots 17 to 25 miles west of New Pass, with Jay Johnston, his son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Amy, and their nine-year-old son, Merritt. The family used squid and cut-bait to catch six keeper lane snapper to 17 inches, along with a dozen grunts. They released fourteen red grouper shorts and an abundance of squirrel fish.
Adam Smith, his dad, Dale, and his young son A.J., joined by family friend, Yang, had planned to fish offshore on Tuesday, 1/3, but the winds and seas had other ideas. With gusts of 20 knots offshore, they were more comfortable fishing inshore, where they used live shrimp to catch and release nine sheepshead to 15 inches, along with a redfish short.
Mike Connealy and his brother, Ted, also scrapped their offshore plans on Wednesday, 1/4, due to rough seas in the gulf. They fished a catch-and-release trip instead in southern Estero Bay, using shrimp, and released twenty-five sheepshead, including six would-be-keepers to 14 inches. They also released a 15-inch seatrout, an 18-inch redfish short, and two black drum at 13 and 14 inches.