When the time to reproduce comes, Goliath groupers come together in large groups that are rarely made up of less than a hundred individuals. In other words, the Goliath groupers utilize the same few places and same few days a year to spawn, which makes them predictable, and thus, easy targets for fisherman looking to catch them.
You’ll only need fresh and cleaned grouper fillets, a lemon, and an Italian seasoning mix along with some salt and pepper. Put a generous amount of salt and pepper on both sides of the fish, lay the fillets out on the foil drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.
Rub salt and pepper over the fillets, lightly dust with flour, and fry in butter and olive oil (yes, both) for 3-4 minutes on each side. Squeeze some lemon over it when you flip the fish (be careful because the juice will start bubbling when it hits the heat).
Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years. Grouper is a family of fish that can reach sizes of up to 500 pounds.
Goliath and other larger grouper, however, have tougher meat that is best used in chowders and stews. While Goliathgroupercan only be caught and released in the United States, there are many Asian countries that allow free-for-all fishing of these whoppers.
Remove the scales of the fish on both sides by sliding the knife from the head, below the gills all the way down to the tail. Photograph by Raul Toulon, National Geographic Creative The Atlantic goliathgrouper (Epimetheus Tamara) isn’t the meanest or fastest fish on the reef.
Though the Atlantic goliathgroupercan grow up to 800 pounds (363 kilograms) and eight feet (2.4 meters) in length, it subsists almost entirely on smallish mud crabs. “From all available data, goliathgrouper do not eat sharks,” said Dr. Matthew Craig, a National Geographic grantee and marine biologist at the University of San Diego in California.
Christopher Koenig, a biologist from Florida State University, confirms that groupers preying on sharks is unlikely under normal conditions. “They are designed to hold the fish within the mouth cavity, not to cut it in pieces.
Craig said he has seen groupers in aquariums misjudge the size of prey and gulp it down anyway: “The result is that the tail end of the fish sticks out of their mouths until the other end is digested, and they can swallow it” Game fisherman prize the Goliath because of their size and the fish stories earned by hauling one in.
Watch video of Goliath groupers up close with photographer David Doublet, who shot the images for a story on this fish in the July issue of National Geographic magazine. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering opening up a limited Goliath grouper season for the first time in nearly 30 years.
It's gone,” said Dave Westley, owner of Lear's Economy Tackle in North Fort Myers. A slot is a designated minimum and maximum size that's used to ensure that the larger breeding population is not overfished.
FCC staff proposed a maximum $300 tag and no harvest of the species during the spawning season, which runs from July through September. The staff also recommended a slot of 47 to 67 inches, which means fish must measure between those two numbers in order to be kept legally.
“Staff was directed to gather public input on a potential limited harvest of Goliath grouper and bring those comments back before the commission in late 2017,” Amanda Valley, with FCC, wrote in an email to The News-Press. Westley remembers times when fishermen would carry Goliath grouper fillets in wheelbarrows and slice them up into tiny bits that would later be fried.
The goal of the FCC proposal is to allow a limited fishing season that won't impact the rate of recovery the species has enjoyed over the past 20 years. Florida made it illegal to keep Goliath grouper in 1990, and the species was listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered in 1994.
Goliath grouper are also susceptible to large events like red tide and seasonal cold fronts, according to FCC. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will hold a public input meeting regarding Goliath grouper management in Naples from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Collier County Public Library on Oct. 18 and from 5-8 p.m. at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County, 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte on Oct. 17.
There’s a good chance angler Jay Cross has spent more time on the Skyway Fishing Piers than anyone else over the past few years. Over the past few weeks Cross has seen quite a few big gags coming over the rails of the fishing pier.
In addition to smaller grouper, Cross, and his friends who frequently fish the pier known as the Skyway Misfits Crew, enjoy playing tug of war with the bigger Goliath that now frequent the pier. He makes 400-pound wire leaders that are 10-feet long, giving the abrasiveness needed against massive sharks like bulls and hammerheads they target.
On a recent night, Cross’s friend Jake Covington borrowed one of his leaders, but found himself tangled up to another one of the bridge’s Goliath. Cross, who was working at the time, closed up the bait shop and went to assist the release of the massive goliathgrouper.
“We have a rope that we used to pull in big sharks up to 400 pounds on the bridge to release them. In a scene that looked like it was from the movie “Mission: Impossible,” Cross dangles from the rope around his waist with pliers in hand.
The fish kicks away, and Cross is pulled back to the bridge. I knew with that long heavy leader it probably would have gotten tangled up in the structure and died.
Normally, we don’t use that tackle on Goliath so it presented the problem when it ate the shark bait.” When targeting Goliath, Cross uses a 900H Diana on a broomstick-esque rod allowing him to winch them up.
He pinches the barb down on those hooks, allowing an easier release on the Goliath he’s landed up to 300 pounds. It's a fish that can reach the size of a grizzly bear, and it's loved by divers and despised by many fishermen.
The goliathgrouper, capable of growing to 800 pounds, bobs around the reefs and swallows the occasional crab or passing fish. As fishermen tell it, these marine blimps hover in wait of easy meals, parking themselves next to fishing boats and snatching someone else's hard-won catch off the line.
They face strong opposition from environmentalists, divers and some scientists, who relish the opportunity to see these enormous, surprisingly curious fish just a few hundred yards from South Florida's condo towers. “If you sit still, they'll come to you and see what's going on,” said Kevin Metz, owner of Underwater Explorers of Boynton Beach, whose business from August through October consists almost exclusively of taking divers to see Goliath groupers at a submerged wreck.
Brian Sanders of Davie has taken famous South Floridians including former Miami Dolphins' linebacker Zach Thomas and former pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fishing for Goliath. Written comments to the wildlife commission in support of allowing them to be taken again describe similar experiences.
Whether to allow them to be killed, the wildlife commission has received 439 written comments so far, the majority from fishermen who blame the resurgence of Goliath groupers for a decline in the number of other fish. “They eat massive amounts of reef fish to maintain and grow to these huge weights.
Known until 2001 by the politically incorrect name “Jewish,” the goliathgrouper had sustained a sharp decline due to overfishing for its meat, the loss of coastal habitat for young fish and the inherent vulnerabilities of a long-lived species that takes years to reach sexual maturity. The species is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of wildlife populations.
“Recent stock assessment indicates abundance in South Florida has greatly increased since the fishery closed in 1990,” said Amanda Valley, spokeswoman for the wildlife commission. “While a limited harvest of smaller-sized fish in south Florida is unlikely to harm the population, the FCC also wants to take into consideration stakeholder perspectives.
Sylvia Earle, one of the world's foremost marine biologists, who was named a Hero for the Planet by Time magazine, strongly supports keeping the ban, saying that living Goliath groupers are ecological treasures that support a growing tourism industry. “The spawning aggregations of these huge fish have grown in the past decade and divers now come from all over the world to see the magic, which in turn supports ecotourism in Florida,” she said in comment emailed to the Sun-Sentinel.