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NAPLES — Another wild and windy weekend ruined many a fishing trip. With gusts hitting well over 30 mph and sustained winds well over 20 mph, no one in their right mind would want to be out on the water. This was the third weekend in a row that Mother Nature tried to shake all the leaves off the trees, and hopefully it will be the last for a while.
As all you offshore anglers know, April 1 marked the end of our two-month closure for all grouper: the gags that they want to protect and the reds that are in reasonable supply.
In the minds of most of the offshore captains, this move is counterproductive since it forces the charter boats to go after mangrove snapper, kings and other species that haunt the same structure as the gags.
Tackle, especially for mangrove snapper, is scaled down to coax a bite out of the eagle eye fish. But since snapper will be found in the same structure as the gags, a great many gags are hooked and then break off the lighter tackle. Red grouper are found in areas not usually frequented by the gags. By allowing a red grouper season during those two months we will actually be helping the mortality of the gags, according to Capt. Tom Marvel. Recently Tom, at his own considerable expense, went to the meeting of the Gulf Council, the federal regulatory agency for our fishery. While Tom patiently waited his turn, about 80 Texans got up to speak about red snapper regulations.
After hearing 80 people say the same thing, the council members seemed to enjoy the change of pace when Capt. Marvel started to speak about the grouper dilemma. It seems that several of the members, including Larry Abele and Bob Gill as well as council head Roy Crabtree, were willing to look further into Tom’s data. Maybe in time for the 2013 season we could see a change in the two-month closure. Here’s hoping. Thanks for the effort, Tom.
Offshore: Capt. Tom Robinson actually ventured slightly offshore with a group that just wanted to go. Four kids and two adults braved 4 to 6 foot seas to enjoy pretty good action on short grouper and grunts. No one got sick until the ride back!
On Thursday before the big blow, Ed Palmer and his group went out on the “Sea Legs” with Capt. Tom and they nailed a limit of nice gags. After the gags Tom went to an old wreck that he hadn’t visited in 15 years and the crew boated mangrove snapper to 18 inches and several goliaths up to 80 pounds.
Ten Thousand Islands: Capt. Rob Walczak canceled his weekend trips but did go out on Thursday. Using shrimp on jigs and under a cork his anglers landed about a dozen reds in the 17- to 23-inch range and another 10 snook of similar size.
A good-sized bull shark fell for a chunk of ladyfish to end the day with some frantic action. Rob says the water is dirty and will take a few days before it starts to clean up.
Naples/Estero Bay: In Estero Bay, Capt. Mike Malay fished Tuesday with conditions still very tough. The water started off somewhat dirty, but got a lot worse as the tide came in.
Malay was fortunate to get a few baits before the water turned to mud, and with those baits his anglers were able to pick up a few fish. Several snook and a couple of flounder made it to the boat, but compared to the end of last week before the wind it was not very good. On his last trip on Friday bait was much more available, and so were the targeted fish. Snook, reds and trout were had in decent numbers.