Here are a few things that will make the GoliathGrouper easy to identify: Over the last 30 years that these fish have been under protection their populations in the Florida area have rebounded quite well.
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. 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.
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. 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. When it is time to spawn, during the months of July, August, and September, these fish form groups of around 100 fish and all congregate at specific sites like shipwrecks, reefs, and rock ledges to spawn.
Although, Scientists believe these fish live on average 50 – 100 years! Now that you are aware of the protections that surround these amazing fish, you can still go out and “catch” one.
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. Make sure you have some good leather gloves when hand lining these massive fish.
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 GoliathGrouper you will want 600 pound test monofilament fishing line.
You can do it relatively close to shore with a live Sting Ray and a hand line if you don't have heavy-duty gear. I think the weight messes with the fish on a knocker rig.
I also want the fish to have a second to eat the bait without feeling the weight, a fish finder rig allows for this. The 60lb is a little stealthier and I've found produces more bites.
Flip the bait out and let it fall on a slack line. Open the bail and raise the rod quickly and lower it quickly so it causes slack, do that about 6-7 times, then grab the slack with your free hand and feel the bait as it falls.
As you hold the line, you'll feel the fish start to tap it, reel in the slack and set the hook. It takes forever for the bait to reach bottom sometimes, but its definitely worth a try.
To possess tunas, billfish, swordfish, amber jacks, snappers, groupers, hinds, cobra, Yahoo and dolphin fish in Louisiana waters, recreational fishermen (except those under age 16 and those on a paid for-hire charter trip) must obtain a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit, in addition to required licenses. Seasons and regulations may differ in federal waters off Louisiana’s coast.
Size Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonNotes12 inches minimum total length25 per person per day except in specified areas of Cameron and Calcasieu parishes where the limit is 15 per person per day with no more than two over 25 inches total length. Reef Fish The captain and crew of a vessel under charter may not harvest red snapper, greater amber jack, or grouper of any species; their creel limit/bag limit is zero.
Specialize Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonGag 24 inches minimum total length gag per person per day within the four grouper aggregate; four grouper per person per day in aggregate. No more than two red grouper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
No more than two red grouper and two gags per person per day within the aggregate bag limit. Open year-round in state waters except February 1 through March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary.
Open year-round in state waters except February 1 through March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary. No more than two red grouper and two gags per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open year-round in state waters except February 1 through March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom (120 feet) boundary. Open year-round in state watersVermilion snapper10 inches minimum total length 10 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermilion and lane snapper, Almach jack, gray trigger fish, and tile fish.
Size Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonNone20 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermilion and lane snapper, Almach jack, gray trigger fish, and tile fish. No more than one gray trigger fish and 10 vermilion snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Size Limiting and Possession LimitSeason15 inches minimum fork lengthened per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermilion and lane snapper, Almach jack, gray trigger fish, and tile fish. No more than 10 vermilion snapper per person per day within the aggregate bag limit.
Open September 1, 2021 ; LDIF will monitor federal actions regarding the closure of the gray trigger fish season and will close concurrently with federal waters (currently scheduled for October 26) Size Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonNone20 per person per day within the 20 reef fish aggregate; the 20 reef fish aggregate is vermilion and lane snapper, Almach jack, gray trigger fish, and tile fish.
Specialize Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonBlue marlin99 inches minimum lower jaw fork lengthNoneOpen year-round in state waters White marlin66 inches minimum lower jaw fork lengthNoneOpen year-round in state waterside Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonNotes29 inches minimum carcass length or 33 pounds minimum dressed weight No more than five per vessel per trip Swordfish taken under a recreational bag limit shall not be sold, purchased, exchanged, bartered, or attempted to be sold, purchased, exchanged or bartered. Prior to fishing for or harvesting tuna, be aware of the most current federal regulations, including size and bag limits and seasons.
Specialize Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonNotesBluefin tuna73 inches minimum curved fork lengthened trophy per vessel per year if caught incidentally while targeting other species while the trophy season is open Opens January 1 each year and closes when the quota is met Currently closed April 16, 2021, through December 31, 2020, Check with NOAA Fisheries for more information. Directed or targeted recreational fishing of blue fin tuna is prohibited in the Gulf of Mexico.
*A person may fish for but not retain white shark with rod and reel only under a catch and release program, provided the person releases and returns such fish to the sea immediately with a minimum of injury. Size Limiting and Possession LimitSeasonNotes63 inches minimum lower jaw fork lengthNoneOpen year-round in state waterspout must report all recreational landings of sailfish to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours of landing.