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.
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.
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. 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.
I’ve seen a lot of crazy things on the water over the last 5 years that my clients and I will never forget. In the past 10 years the Clearwater area and entire gulf for that matter has seen the Goliath grouper population explode.
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.
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Gag grouper are also found inshore, but these fish are much smaller on average than what you can catch offshore. Average catches inshore usually range from 5 to 10 pounds, which is still a really nice fish, and they taste great.
Inshore, anglers target gag grouper along the mangroves, around docks, near bridges, around oyster beds, in deep water holes and along ledges. Some live baits that work well for gag grouper are crabs, pinkish, sand perch, shrimp and squid.
Goliath grouper, also called Jewish, are becoming some of the most exciting fish to catch in the United States. Inshore, anglers can find tons of these big fish near docks, bridges, in deep holes and on ledges.
Smaller goliathgrouper can be found in the estuaries around oyster bars, docks and mangrove-lined shorelines. Offshore, goliathgrouper can be found on the reefs and wrecks in very deep water.
Goliath grouper eat a variety of different baits, but most anglers will target them with jack crevasse, mullet, menhaden and sting rays. Scamp Grouper are found around nearshore and offshore reefs and wrecks.
Warsaw Grouper are found in very deep offshore waters, and they grow very big. Yellow edge Grouper are usually found in very deep water on the offshore reefs.