If you can fish these guys with 90lbs of drag in stand-up gear without a chair or harness you should probably call ESPN about the World’s Strongest Man contest. The largest GoliathGrouper I hooked broke the boat off the anchor, towed us around, and snapped an impossibly thick rod.
They will engulf almost any reef fish you hook in certain parts of Florida, including Snappers, Permit, rays, sharks, etc. In some parts of Florida their primary food source is stealing fish that have been hooked by fishermen.
They have a lot more bulk than most groupers, and only the stoutest of tackle will keep them from reaching freedom. Some huge ones are essentially impossible to land on rod and reel, because no matter how strong your line is and how tight your drag is, they will just pull the boat backwards and break you off in the rocks.
You need a large reel capable of 90lbs of drag and loaded with 400lb+ monofilament if you want to consistently land the big ones. I highly recommend you find one of the few guides who really specializes in this type of fishing and use their gear.
That being said, I was able to land a 175lber on heavy spinning gear (100lb braid on a Died Saliva Dogfight reel) when we were fortunate enough to hook it far from a reef. Smaller Goliath's hang around docks and pilings and can be landed on lighter tackle.
Large GoliathGrouper are almost exclusively caught on live or dead bait. The key to successful GoliathGrouper fishing is anchoring close enough to the reef or wreck so that they will come out to eat your bait, but far enough away that you have a chance of pulling them away before they get back and break you off.
Because of the ban on keeping them their numbers have increased significantly, and this is one of the few places you can find a guide who specializes in them. In most of the rest of their range that I know of they are pretty fished out and not available in sufficient numbers to target successfully.
GoliathGrouper have made a major comeback over recent years after being completely decimated by commercial pressure in the 70s and 80s. Goliath's can reach weights over 600lbs and love to engulf anything they can fit in their mouths, whether that is a jack, snapper, shook or permit, they couldn't care less.
Although their aggressive personalities make them easy to hook, pulling them away from the safety of their dens is another matter entirely. Depending mainly on the depth of the water and the structure, we employ 30-80 size reels on broom sticks for stand-up rods.
In the past 10 years the Clearwater area and entire gulf for that matter has seen the Goliath grouper population explode. Due to the sheer size of these 100 pound plus grouper, even pulling them out of the water is not advised, by doing so will crush their skeletal system often killing them, which is considered harvesting.
Armed with top of the line Fin Nor 2-speed 30W and 130lb class rod guarantees you have a solid chance of landing one of these giants! Usually we use large dead fish, such as Bonita, mackerel or any other oily species to entice these brutes off the wreck or reef.
After getting them boat side, pictures are taken, and the hooks quickly removed, all while the fish is still in the water. They make great targets for our captains, and clients love the excitement and anticipation of battling a true sea monster.
Although an experienced Tampa fishing guide maneuvering the boat correctly can make the fisherman’s job much easier. The average size for an angler might do battle with during a Tampa Bay fishing charter is 100 to 400 pounds.
Unlike a lot of the other larger species that roam our oceans the Jewish is a true bottom dweller actually living inside of reef caves, sunken boats or any kind of hole they can hide inside. This makes it more difficult for an angler to land the larger specimens without getting a snapped line.
It was caught many years ago in 1961 when the species was severely over fished commercially, and the season was finally closed to harvest in 1990. It is only due to the closed harvest that the GoliathGrouper world record has not been officially broken.
More than likely if the harvest was reopened, it wouldn’t be long before the world record would increase in pounds. Tampa fishing guides all have their preferred king of bait, which range from whole Mackerel, Jacks, King fish, and False Albacore and yes, even sting rays.
Though big ones can be caught on much lighter gear and might evolve into long-drawn-out battles. The bait is then lowered down to the Giant Grouper, and much of the time it doesn’t even make it to the bottom before it’s eaten.
The battle can last from ten minutes to an hour all depending on the size fish and the man or woman pulling. GoliathGrouper fishing is so exciting there are few angling experiences that can mimic the anticipation of the bite and the glow of the massive beast down deep as he is battled to the boat.
The feeling of getting to see and touch one of these huge fish up close is extremely exhilarating; along with the release knowing you both gave it your all and now it is time to part ways and both go home. On August 26th, Joshua Anyzeski caught the prohibited species, removing it from the water to take a picture.
The picture circulated on social media, which tipped off officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I brought home enough fresh Mangrove Snapper to feed a troop and my 9-year-old son caught a Shook bigger than anyone in my family has Ever caught (see pic below).
Port Charlotte, Florida, United States Thanks, Capt Jesse for a great day of fishing and a bunch of firsts for our fishermen.
He is wonderful with children and loves to teach the next generation a sport that lasts a lifetime. Capt Jesse goes out of his way to make sure your day on the water is the best it can possibly be.
I would recommend Jesse for a charter trip, he is an excellent guide and professional in every respect. Reviewed June 23, 2014, I chartered a trip for myself, my son and two grandsons.
Due to inability to overlap travel, a third grandson had to come earlier. Captain Jesse was able to schedule an extra trip for us on short notice.
Especially appreciated the pictures provided by Kelly which will commemorate this trip. The second trip was also great, my other grandsons were a little young for tarpon, but Jesse got us on some good snapper and grouper fishing and everyone had a great experience and some good eating. Reviewed June 16, 2014, In spite of a bad storm prior to our fishing trip that made the originally planned offshore fishing be changed, and extremely rough waves, Captains Jesse McDowell and Kelly Eberle gave us the fishing trip of our lives.
We caught trout, shook, and three Goliath grouper with the largest one weighing about 400 pounds. They knew where the fish were at, where to catch the bait, and how to keep us safe.
The giant of the grouper family, the Goliath (formerly called Jewish) has brown or yellow mottling with small black spots on the head and fins, a large mouth with jawbones that extend well past its small eyes, and a rounded tail. The skeletal structure of large Goliath grouper cannot adequately support their weight out of the water without some type of damage.
If a large Goliath is brought on-board a vessel or out of the water, it is likely to sustain some form of internal injury and therefore be considered harvested. Goliath grouper populations declined throughout their range during the 1970s and 1980s due to increased fishing pressure from commercial and recreational fishers and divers.
At their July 2014 meeting in Key Largo, this committee reviewed the most up-to-date scientific information on goliathgrouper and recommended a new stock assessment for this species. As a result, the most recent stock assessment, conducted by the FCC was completed in June 2016 (Sedan 47).
The stock assessment indicates abundance in south Florida has greatly increased since the fishery closed in 1990. However, in the final step of the review process, the assessment was rejected by an independent panel of scientists for use in federal management due to a lack of reliable indicators of abundance outside south Florida.
Goliath are also susceptible to large scale mortality events such as cold temperatures and red tide blooms. When not feeding or spawning, adult Goliath groupers are generally solitary, sedentary and territorial.
Before the goliathgrouper reaches full-size it is preyed upon by barracuda, king mackerel and moray eels, as well as sandbar and hammerhead sharks. Calico crabs make up the majority of their diet, with other invertebrate species and fish filling in the rest.
Reproductive maturity first occurs in fish 5 or 6 years of age (about 36 inches in length) due to their slow growth rate. Males mature at a smaller size (about 42 inches) and slightly younger age than females.
These groups occur at consistent sites such as wrecks, rock ledges and isolated patch reefs during July, August and September. Studies have shown fish may move up to 62 miles (100 km) from inshore reefs to these spawning sites.