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Can You Take Goliath Grouper Out Of The Water

author
Carole Stephens
• Wednesday, 18 November, 2020
• 9 min read

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.

grouper goliath catch
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Contents

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.

grouper goliath florida caught keys
(Source: www.youtube.com)

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.

In southwest Florida, presumed courtship behavior has been observed during the full moons in August and September. Eddie sat down on the deck and braced his foot against the rail, I figured we were into a big one.

When his hat fell off, and he started to make grunting sounds, I was sure of it. 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.

grouper goliath florida types water
(Source: fishingbooker.com)

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.

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.

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.

It finally took a rig spooled with 150# braid, a 500# mono top shot, and huge #16 circle hook under 2 ounces of lead to bring a Goliath to the surface. Eddie's wreck, and he pulled a big Spanish mackerel out of his cooler, the one bait he said Goliath can 't refuse.

grouper goliath giant fish shark massive endangered bite single species diver jewfish key largo ocean atlantic
(Source: abcnews.go.com)

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. Goliathgroupercan be found across the Caribbean from Central America, around the Gulf, and up the Atlantic to the Carolina's, but they are most plentiful in Florida.

goliath grouper water
(Source: www.funoncocoabeach.com)

If you find a five hundred pound Grouper at the end of your line you are going to be pretty sure it is the GoliathGrouper. Knowing how to identify them will save you a lot of headache in the long run.

Over the last 30 years that these fish have been under protection their populations in the Florida area have rebounded quite well. Many anglers are targeting these fish on a catch and release basis only.

It is not illegal to catch them but you do have to abide by a few guidelines when releasing the fish as to protect them as much as possible: The fish must be returned to the water immediately free, alive, and unharmed Photographs can be taken but only during the active act of release.

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.

Removing smaller Goliath groupers from the water to remove hooks is not necessarily a bad practice, but this process must be done with care, using proper fish handling techniques, and the fish must be returned to the water as expeditiously as possible. Like any wild animal, GoliathGrouper are most dangerous when they feel threatened or when they are hungry.

goliath grouper fishing fish water boat while charters
(Source: www.fisheyesportfishing.com)

GoliathGrouper have huge mouths and can swallow large fish whole. This exact scenario is actually the basis for a lot of shark encounters as well for divers and spear fisherman.

If you do catch a GoliathGrouper and jump in the water with them for a picture, remember, their sheer size and strength can injure you if they were to start slashing around. You will find them near reefs, shipwrecks, rock ledges, old phosphate docks, etc.

They live in shallow water up to around 150 feet deep and hold tight to the structure mentioned above. In the Atlantic Ocean They range from Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico, The Bahamas, through the Caribbean, and down most of the coastline of Brazil.

Well, they are believed to grow to over 8 feet in length and weigh up to 800 pounds making this the largest reef dwelling fish in the world! The current world record for GoliathGrouper is 680 pounds and was caught off the coast of Florida at Fernanda Beach in 1961.

There have been a lot of very large GoliathGrouper caught since 1961 when you were allowed to harvest and weigh the fish. Many anglers argue new world records have been brought to the edge of their boat.

grouper goliath tug war fish lbs
(Source: fishtenacity.com)

Since anglers are not allowed to remove large Grouper from the ocean it is impossible to know their exact weight unfortunately. One of the reasons GoliathGrouper populations are so threatened is because of their slow growth and re-population rates.

GoliathGrouper males reach sexual maturity around the age of 4 – 6 years old. At this age these fish are already around 4 ft long and would look like adults to many fishermen.

The big guys can definitely pull you off the boat and have been known to break lines and even rods! GoliathGrouper feed mostly on crustaceans like crab and lobster, fish, rays, and even sharks around the reef.

They are opportunistic feeders and will eat live or dead bait as long as it is fresh, they really aren't all that picky. Outside the US these fish are harder to find as they taste great and are not hard to spear.

They are not shy and unlike most fish, will not be in a hurry to swim away, making them an easy target. Bouncing your rig off the bottom a little to create some commotion will help them notice your bait.

grouper goliath catch fishing
(Source: www.howtocatchanyfish.com)

Make sure you have some good leather gloves when hand lining these massive fish. GoliathGrouper put up a strong, but short-lived fight.

Rigging for GoliathGrouper isn't difficult just takes some heavy-duty line and crimps, about 16 ounces of weight and a 20/O Circle Hook. For GoliathGrouperyou will want 600 pound test monofilament fishing line.

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2 www.tripadvisor.com - https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34164-d531207-Reviews-The_Square_Grouper_Bar_and_Grill-Cudjoe_Key_Florida_Keys_Florida.html
3 www.facebook.com - https://www.facebook.com/squaregrouperbarandgrill/
4 squaregrouperislamorada.com - https://squaregrouperislamorada.com/
5 www.tripadvisor.com - https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34164-d531207-r644133848-The_Square_Grouper_Bar_and_Grill-Cudjoe_Key_Florida_Keys_Florida.html
6 local.yahoo.com - https://local.yahoo.com/info-14210877-square-grouper-bar-grill-cudjoe-key
7 local.yahoo.com - https://local.yahoo.com/info-14210877-square-grouper-bar-grill-cudjoe-key
8 squaregrouper.net - https://squaregrouper.net/about/