Eddie looked up at me with a twisted smile and was just hanging onto the rod for dear life. Something was living in this wreck 10 miles off southwest Florida, and whatever it was had already beaten us up several times.
But on this day we were maxed out on gear big enough to crank one of these monsters up ... if only Capt. This started out innocently enough a few weeks earlier when a couple of fishing buddies and I dropped a live pinkish on 30# mono down on a wreck 50 feet deep looking for a grouper dinner.
Something big grabbed it, screamed out about 40 feet of drag, got into the wreck and cut the line on something sharp. Something wolfed down the pinkish and took line like the rod was tied to a dragster.
It had to be a big grouper, a shark, a giant ray, or maybe a huge barracuda. The rod bent over 180 degrees, the back of the boat went down 6 inches, and the 150# braid snapped like a rifle shot.
The steel hook, thick as a shoelace, broke off at the eye. I asked the guys in the local bait shops if they knew any captains up for the task of fishing for seemingly unwatchable monsters.
The Goliath, once called the Jewish, is the biggest member of the grouper family. Goliath's can live 50 years and grow to behemoth size.
The winds of spring kept us inshore for a couple of weeks, so we enjoyed the opportunity to fish the bridges for pompano and sea trout. Goliath's are known to inhabit bridges and even shallow water and canals, and when I watched a fisherman lower a 5-pound chunk of cut bait next to a bridge piling I knew he could only be after sharks or Goliath.
Eddie's wreck, and he pulled a big Spanish mackerel out of his cooler, the one bait he said Goliath can't refuse. It was a short, furious, and profane battle, a hard fought back-and-forth fish fight, exciting to watch with an uncertain end.
Eddie prevailed, and suddenly a giant brown fish appeared on the surface and lay at the side of the boat as exhausted as Capt. On the next calm day I returned to my wreck lying now in water so clear you could see its dark silhouette on the white sand bottom 50 feet below.
I went over the side to find an old shrimper torn apart by hurricanes and fishermen's anchors, its wheelhouse barely recognizable. And then they appeared, slowly emerging from the shadows of broken masts and rigging.
A fearless giant Goliath carries the remnants of three different rigs ripped from fishermen. Three fishing rigs hung from his mouth, one still with its sinker, medals of recent battles won, and then I recognized one of my rigs, the 150# braid to a black swivel to 200# mono, hanging out of the left side of his mouth.
There was the proof: These were the bad boys that had beat us up, and a few other fishermen, too, by the looks of it. I returned to the surface knowing those hooks will soon rust and the line will fall away, and these Goliath's will own this wreck for many years to come.
It's a serious one-on-one fish fight where it's wise to have somebody next to you ready to grab your belt and keep you in the boat. Many charter captains have only to take you to the nearest bridge to find a giant ready to take you on.
Deals on cruises, charters, car rentals, hotel stays and more… Maggie Marmoreal/For the Herald The goliathgrouper, the monster reef fish that can grow to 800 pounds and nearly disappeared in the 1970s, is off-limits for now.
On Thursday, Florida wildlife commissioners refused to lift a nearly two-decade ban on harvesting the fish, citing continued uncertainty about the remaining numbers and bowing to the demands of divers and scientists, who packed a meeting and led an online petition that drew nearly 60,000 signatures. “The fact we’re even having this discussion means we’ve been successful,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chair BO River.
Curious and generally fearless, they were easy targets for anglers and spear fishermen, especially when they gathered in large numbers in July and August to mate. After the ban in 1990, the fish began to bounce back, but scientists believe Florida's record 2010 freeze likely sent numbers downward again.
Anglers, however, have increasingly complained that the voracious fish are taking over reefs and gobbling up their catches. A survey FCC conducted in the Keys and Dry Tortugas found just a 2 and 4.5 percent increase.
They also said lobster counts have remained stable, indicating that the fish are not affecting the popular, and lucrative, crustacean. The controversy over whether to allow harvesting has divided some anglers and divers, who consider the gentle Goliath a mascot for the reefs.
On Thursday, about 60 speakers, nearly all divers and many wearing Save the Goliath T-shirts handed out by the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, criticized the move as an attempt to appease anglers. “You’re awarding a trophy fish to essentially a lazy hunter,” said Miami diver James Woodard.
UM Rosenthal School of Marine and Atmospheric Science fishery scientist Bill Hartford and Nova geneticist Andrea Bernard said they are working on building a statistical model, similar to methods used to assess blue fin tuna, that can account for gaps in catch history caused by the fishing moratorium and provide an accurate count for adult fish in Florida. “People got us into this problem and if the fishing opens back up, we'll likely be back in this position,” said Ellie Fodder, a sophomore environmental study major at Becker College who left campus at 3:30 a.m. Thursday with her dive club, the Scuba Jews, and campus rabbi, Ed Rosenthal, to make the morning meeting.
Found nearshore around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges; young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars; more abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters. Spawns over summer months; lifespan of 30 to 50 years; feeds on crustaceans and fish.
CLOSED TO HARVEST OR POSSESSION IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC EEA (FEDERAL WATERS) SINCE 1990. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has provided additional guidelines on release techniques for Goliath grouper.
Note: Goliath grouper and Nassau grouper must be released by cutting the line and NOT removed from the water. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has provided additional guidelines on release techniques for Goliath grouper.
At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage. Descending Device Requirement: Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper- grouper species; Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing. At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage.
Descending Device Requirement: Requirement: A descending device is required to be on board and readily available for use on all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper- grouper species; Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.
Click here for helpful resources, including: best fishing practices tips information on hook types how-to videos One of the tastiest and most famous fish of the sea, GoliathGrouper, is the largest form of the species of Grouper.
These fishes weigh up to 900 pounds, making them very difficult to catch. Red Grouper : These fishes are found in and around the Florida coasts.
These fishes prefer to live in rocky areas where there are a lot of holes and caves. They use these caves and holes to make it their home and hide if they sense any form of danger.
These fishes are very lonely and prefer to live in very deep waters, from 20 to 200 meters. They are massive and very strong, with some fishes being a meter in length and 300kgs in weight.
They are known to have big mouths with very distinct lips and brown bodies with white spots. They have very powerful jaws, which they used to hunt small fishes and octopuses for their food.
They are territorial fishes and cover an area of about 500 square meters. Now the thing is, due to their size and difficulty to catch them, more often than not, when you manage to catch them, the pressure created due to their size and strength of their resistance, can break their skeletal system and hence killing them.
During winter, ranging from September to March is the perfect time to fish groupers. That is because, during the summer, they usually reside deep in some cave or hole underwater.
Due to their size and strength, conventional fishing techniques cannot be used to catch a GoliathGrouper. When you go to buy a lure, you must check if it is ideal for deep trolling or not.
This kind of trolling with lures like butterfly jigs, feathers, or anything which can mimic a shellfish can attract a Grouper and is very effective. This is very effective because, once the Grouper comes out of its shelter to take a bite, they are so far off their home that once caught, and they cannot swim back in.
Frozen and natural baits such as squids, sardines, pinkish, grunts, blue runners, white mullet, squirrel fish, etc. If you use light or less strong tackles, there will be chances to break off, which will be a problem for both you and the fish.
When it comes to line and fishing Goliath Groupers, you must use monofilament instead of braid. Goliath Groupers are caught using live or dead bait with an artificial lure.
These fishes are very strong and are keen to hide in their homes when they sense danger. To do that, you just anchor somewhat close to a cave, wreck, or reef where groupers usually reside.
Now all you have to do is to bounce off your bait the bottom so that these fishes can hear the sound. Make sure you do not anchor too far away from the reefs to prevent the Goliath Groupers from returning to their home because if you are too far, they will never come out to your lure.
Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.