Fishing For Grouper In Kayak

Maria Johnson
• Wednesday, 27 October, 2021
• 9 min read

It’s a bit extreme, but that type of trip still doesn’t seem as crazy as fishing the middle of Tampa Bay for gag grouper and sharks in a kayak. Erik Stevens, who guides anglers from a Hobin PA17T 17-foot catamaran style kayak.

kayak fishing fish ever florida largest saltwater sanibel grouper fake inshore kayaker shark kayaking chew landed goliath fort kayaks hand
(Source: www.youtube.com)


The system is mimicked to how a penguin moves through the water, and two people doing it together is easy, smooth, steady and comfortable.” Stevens’ gag grouper trips range from eight get of water on flats edges all the way to the middle of the bay.

If the wind is going predominately one direction, he’ll arrange a start and pickup going all the way across the bay. During the trip he’s fishing channel edges and hard bottom with heavy tackle.

Heavy spinning gear is Stevens’ preferred grouper tackle, with 40-60 pound rated rods and 8500 or bigger series reels that he trolls big lipped diving plugs on with heavy braided line. These fish are big and mean and pull hard so you better hold on tight.

This past week Stevens was able to put fellow kayak enthusiast Pamela With on four gag grouper, including one keeper sized fish, in just 45 minutes of fishing. The biggest fish we hooked was eaten to his head by a shark.

Game & Fish gear editor John Geiger fights a hand-lined Goliath grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, July 2017 (GDF video screenshot) July 19, 2017By John Geiger Asked the captain as I started to push my kayak off from his 23-foot Hanson sport fisher 6 miles off St. Petersburg, Fla., in the Gulf of Mexico.

grouper kayak goliath largest caught ever fishing fish let another take road
(Source: www.yakangler.com)

I wished I did have my knife with me, just in case something went wrong, like the 1/2-inch rope wrapping around my foot while an 800-pound fish dives with me in tow. Or I catch one of those nasty, toothy bull sharks or hammerheads that we all know live among the Gulf wrecks.

Somehow I shrugged off the start of fear and pushed off from the boat toward the blue water and the wreck. I dropped the bloody bonito into the Gulf, and it spiraled down into the dark water.

It's legal to catch a Goliath grouper as long as you use a lure or non-game fish as bait, and you don't take the large ones from the water. Footage courtesy of Davis_Bennett_@captgamble, and jmsnooky@gmail.com I wondered if I had hooked a shark instead, and that was a bad feeling being so close to the water as it sloshed over my legs and Chavez struggled to keep me from capsizing.

This is not the first time a Goliath grouper had been documented caught from a kayak by hand line. Jim Van Pelt caught a Goliath off Southwest Florida from a kayak attached to a sport fisher.

Goliath's range from Texas in the Gulf up around Florida and into Georgia on the Atlantic. They exist in the eastern Atlantic off Africa from Congo to Senegal in the Indian Ocean.

grouper fishing kayak
(Source: petermillerfishing.com)

Currently, all Goliath's must be released after being caught, and only small ones can be taken out of the water in order to quickly remove a hook. The Florida Wildlife Commission has been studying changing the regulations to allow limited harvest of Goliath grouper.

But it's memorable and sure levels the playing field by putting the anglers at the edge of the water and creating a serious offshore tug of war. Put together a video of catching Grouper and a bunch of other fish in Ft DeSoto.

Jonathan Black, of Cape Coral, Florida, managed to lead this record-breaking fish to shore where it was measured out to be 83 inches long and weighed in at about 552 pounds!! Even while running more than 220 trips in a year, fishing on and off day is what captains like Hunter love to do.

Deans showed up with 20-dozen shrimp while I provided Hunter with his favorite 1.25-ounce pink Hog balls that he targets dogfish with. I started with a lane snapper while the Hunter’s caught small grouper.

Deans’ rod bent further with drag pulling from his reel. A variety of fish seemed to be active, divulging in our shrimp offerings.

kayak grouper caught largest ever goliath fishing
(Source: www.yakangler.com)

Each stop seemed to have a few dogfish but no more, giving us the sign they haven’t quite schooled up for spawn yet. On one of the spots the gag grouper bite turned on, and a pinkish Hunter was reserving for the shallows deceived a 25-incher.

Not long after I luckily landed another 25-inch gag on a 4000-spinning reel and 1/16-ounce bighead, quite the fight! We headed back inshore with our catch filling his fish box.

Hunter prefers free lining pinkish on heavy spinning tackle. It didn’t take long for a few smaller fish to make their presence known.

Hunter has since been back on the grouper, noting the bite has been fantastic around the bay. The grouper season in South Florida closes for four months on January 1, so time is running short to catch one of the hard-fighting, great-tasting fish.

“You’re trolling those little lures around all the wrecks out to 200 feet and at some point you’ll catch baby bonitos, which are very prolific in the fall,” Smith said. “As soon as you catch a baby bonito, you hook it through the upper lip and you drop it down on the upstream side of the wreck.

grouper kayak
(Source: www.youtube.com)

“We’ve already had very good black grouper fishing this fall,” Smith added. The grouper season closure, which runs through April 30 in Atlantic waters, was implemented in 2010 to allow the populations of black, gag and red grouper to increase in number and in size, as well as protect the fish during their spawning seasons.

Bouncer’s advice and you’ll be able to enjoy several delicious meals of fresh grouper for the holiday season. We were discussing kayak fishing and all the different species of big fish we had caught.

We talked to friends of ours who had experience with Goliath grouper, and we were always answered with “It can’t be done.” I searched the internet for any videos or forum posts of anyone who had done it, and found none. We both use Hobin “Pro Angler” kayaks, which are exceedingly stable and buoyant craft.

Until we knew what damage these fish were capable of visiting upon our plastic craft, we had to err on the side of caution. Ben is a renowned Goliath grouper guide and the Host of Chew on This, a television show about pushing the limits of angling.

Jim had been talking to Ben about our plan for a few months, trying to fine tune some ideas. Finally, the day came when Ben said, “Let’s do it tomorrow,” and the waiting was over.

fish kayak grouper goliath fishing rod cape coral catch catches largest ever florida giant chew bottom caught reel shark lands
(Source: www.youtube.com)

We made our way over to the bridge span where we began to prepare for this mammoth undertaking. The current around the bridge is fairly strong and it would be impossible to keep the kayak in place in front of the pilings.

Also, we predicted the Goliath would quickly pull the kayak into the pilings, and possibly under. Once everything was in place, Jim took possession of the 30ft handling rope fitted with a gaff hook.

It didn’t take long for the rope to shudder, and then tighten. There was a fish on that quickly, and Jim furiously pulled on the rope to set the hook.

This happened a couple more times, and we were beginning to think that setting the hook would be impossible. Ben hit the gas and the boat lurched forward, pulling Jim from the pilings.

Jim noted that he had control of the fish, and didn’t feel threatened. We would still keep the kayak tethered for obvious safety reasons, but Jim would be on his own against the next fish.

kayak trolling grouper
(Source: www.youtube.com)

The line ripped through his unprotected hands as he struggled to gain control. At first, the kayak was pulled toward the pilings, but the strong current hitting the face of the concrete pushed him back off.

Jim hoisted him to the top of the water, and its giant head shook violently. This big fish was also tagged and released after a round of picture taking to commemorate the event.

That evening, we released our news over various social media outlets. I join the kayak fishing community in congratulating Jim on accomplishing what no one else thought was possible.

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